When the Home of Rolls-Royce at Goodwood first opened in 2003, it employed 200 people, and produced just one motor car a day. By the end of its first decade, the workforce had grown to more than 1,400 and the collection had expanded from the original Phantom to include Ghost and Wraith, with more than 20 cars created a day. Today, Dawn has joined the Rolls-Royce collection and over 1,700 desginers, engineers and crafts people reside at the Home of Rolls-Royce.
With worldwide demand for its luxurious hand-made cars continuing to grow, the company can look forward with confidence to its future in West Sussex.
How it Started
How it Started On 28 July 1998, BMW acquired the rights to the Rolls-Royce Motor Cars marque from Rolls‑Royce Plc, and announced that it intended to begin production on 1 January 2003 at a new manufacturing facility to be built in England.
Starting with a blank sheet of paper, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars faced the daunting task of designing and building a new worldwide headquarters and production facility in order to start producing the first cars in just four and a half years. At every stage, from selecting the site to the materials and methods used in the building’s construction, the company was inspired by the maxim of our founder, Sir Henry Royce; ‘Strive for perfection in everything you do’.
Today, the Home of Rolls-Royce welcomes patrons, journalists, photographers and enthusiasts from around the world. The site employs more than 1,700 people, over three quarters of whom live within 15 miles of the plant, and produces more than 20 hand-built cars every day – some 90% of them going for export.
The Location On the day it acquired the Rolls-Royce marque, BMW Group stated its intention to build a new manufacturing plant in England. From a shortlist of possible sites, Goodwood in West Sussex emerged as the natural and most suitable choice.
Tucked away in the heart of the South Downs National Park and in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it is a quintessentially English setting, perfectly in tune with the values of the brand and patrons’ expectations. Close to the ports of Southampton and Portsmouth, it’s also easily accessible from London Heathrow and Gatwick airports. The famous Goodwood Motor Circuit and glamorous Goodwood Racecourse are both on the doorstep, with the historic cathedral city of Chichester just a short drive away. The South Coast has a centuries-old tradition of boat-building and a strong equestrian influence, and some of the specialists now working in our Woodshop learned their trade in this skilled and exacting craft.
While Goodwood was an entirely new location for Rolls-Royce manufacturing, it also had a powerful historical connection. The plant is less than 10 miles from the charming village of West Wittering – home to one of the founding forefathers, Sir Henry Royce, from 1917 until his death in 1933.
The Design The South Downs is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, so choosing to build a maunufactory at Goodwood presented numerous planning challenges. In true Rolls-Royce style, it overcame them through innovative design, careful choice of materials and unswerving attention to detail.
The manufacturing plant was designed by renowned British architect Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, whose portfolio also includes the celebrated Eden Project in Cornwall. The main manufacturing building is laid out on a 20m x 20m grid, with steel columns supporting roof lights 8m in diameter. Windows running the length of the assembly area – the so-called ‘glass mile’ – allow natural light to flood in, and give visitors a view of the entire production line.
The building is two storeys high, rising up to 10 metres. However, before construction began, around 80,000 tonnes of gravel were extracted from the site. This enabled the company to build the plant one to two metres below the surrounding ground level. Combined with the curved sedum roof (see below) this helps the building ‘disappear’ into the landscape.
The landmark has received prestigious architectural awards from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Royal Fine Art Commission and the American Institute of Architects (AIA); it also won first prize in Italy’s L’Architettura Automatica competition.
Sustainability and Environmental Impact
Sustainability and Environmental Impact As well as blending into its rural surroundings, the Goodwood plant is designed to have the smallest possible impact on the environment. Since 2003, it has been accredited to the international standard ISO 14001 for its environmental management and pollution prevention systems. Sustainability informs every aspect of the building, including:
- Construction materials and methods: The exterior is clad with a mixture of limestone and cedar wood from sustainable sources. Recycled materials have been used wherever possible, including gravel extracted from the site prior to construction.
- Timber louvres activated by a weather station on the roof control the light entering the building, reducing the need for natural lighting and helping to regulate the internal temperature. The walls are 25% more thermally efficient than required under current Building Regulations.
- Living roof: The roof of the main building is planted with thousands of hardy, low-maintenance sedum plants. Covering over 32,000 square metres (around eight acres) it’s the largest living roof in the UK. As well as providing extremely effective ‘camouflage’, the roof improves insulation, reduces rainwater runoff, and is a haven for wildlife, particularly skylarks, which have nested successfully here for many years.
- Landscaping: Across the 42-acre site, the company has established over 400,000 plants and trees of more than 120 species, including many that occur naturally in the local area. The large central lake, which attracts numerous wild birds, acts as a heat sink for the plant’s climate-control systems, providing drastic cost and energy savings over air-conditioning. It also forms a vital part of the Sustainable Urban Drainage System (SUDS) water management system, storing filtered runoff from the roof and car parks before allowing it to drain naturally into he ground, preventing flooding.
- Production processes: All the company’s production processes are designed to minimise waste, energy requirements and water consumption. Well over 60% of waste, including cardboard, paper, plastic, tyres and polystyrene, is recycled; leather off-cuts from upholstery are re-used in the fashion and footwear industries; off-cuts of wood veneer are donated to a local charity, which uses them to make furniture and other fund-raising products. The company even composts all the green waste produced from its 42 acres of grounds.
What Happens at the Home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood?
What Happens at the Home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood? Goodwood is where all Rolls-Royce motor cars are hand-built – a process that involves around 60 pairs of skilled, experienced hands in specialist departments including the Surface Finish Centre, Leathershop, Woodshop, and Test & Finish. The Sir Henry Royce Institute, the company’s academy for apprentices and centre for technical training, ensures its people have the skills and knowledge they need to build the best cars in the world.
As Rolls-Royce’s global headquarters, Goodwood is also home to design, R&D, sales and marketing, senior management and other corporate teams. From Goodwood, cars are dispatched to customers across six continents. For many, however, part of the magic of ownership is taking delivery in person at the Home of Rolls-Royce itself, in the dedicated Customer Studio.
Rolls-Royce has always keenly encouraged its customers to come and see for themselves where their car is designed and built – and meet the people responsible.
Plant Expansion Following record sales in 2010, the company announced a £10 million expansion plan. By 2012, the new extension was fully operational, adding more than 2,500m2 to the main Assembly Hall, and almost 650m2 to the Surface Finish Centre. The extra space has also allowed Rolls-Royce to expand its Bespoke operation, which has more than doubled in size since 2003.
Technology and Logisitics Centre
Technology and Logisitics Centre The new Rolls-Royce Technology and Logistics Centre (TLC) opened, on schedule, in January 2016. This purpose-built 30,000m2 facility is located in Bognor Regis, eight miles from Goodwood. The TLC provides logistics support to the manufacturing plant for current and future models, and consolidates three operations: an inbound warehouse for production parts, a distribution centre – including an inbound body store and finished car store – and a workshop. The TLC was built from the outset with the potential for future expansion and the buildings will be extended in late-2017 by almost 10,000m2 to meet growing demand and in readiness for future models. The expansion will give the TLC the same overall footprint as the Home of Rolls-Royce, more than doubling the scale of the company’s facilities since its launch in 2003.