top of page

Establishment of the Foundation (cont....)

The Sir Henry Royce Foundation Australia was initiated when David Ekberg, a Member of the Victoria Branch of the Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club of Australia (RROCA), having been impressed with what the Sir Henry Royce Memorial Foundation had achieved in the UK, conceived the idea of forming a similar organisation in Australia. David promoted the idea of an Australian foundation to the RROCA Federal Council, where David Vann was the then Federal President.

David Vann and Ian Dunn (Federal Secretary) tirelessly pursued David Ekberg’s idea and approached Malcolm Johns, an Honorary Life Member of the RROCA to advise on how such a foundation could be formed.

At the Federal Rally of the RROCA in Wollongong on the 28th April 1996 it was agreed that “an irrevocable Trust for charitable purposes be established” and that it be called “The Sir Henry Royce Foundation Australia”. 

The founding trustees were David C Jones AM OBE (Chairman), James C Kelso and David G Vann OAM.  The inaugural Trustees then invited Malcolm N Johns to be the fourth Trustee.

Over time, there have been changes in the people serving as a Trustee.  David Jones retired and David Vann became Chairman.  David Neely and David Davis were appointed as Trustees.  Russell Rolls was appointed as a Trustee. David Davis, Malcolm Johns and David Neely retired.  David Vann retired as Chairman but remained a Trustee with Russell Rolls taking over as Chairman.  Frank Carroll, Brian Crump and Eric Henderson were appointed as Trustees.  David Vann retired as a Trustee.  Jeanne Eve was appointed a Trustee, followed by Wallace Moorhouse. Clare Lukes appointed as a Trustee in 2023.

The current Trustees are; Brian Crump (Chairman), Frank Carroll, Russell Rolls, Jeanne Eve, Eric Henderson, Wallace Moorhouse and Clare Lukes

The Trust Deed states: “The charitable objects of The Foundation are the advancement of the science and technology of mechanical engineering for public benefit and the advancement of education.”  It went on to state that “The collection policy is to collect, document and exhibit any objects whatsoever illustrating or connected with the science of mechanical engineering and especially related to the work of Sir Henry Royce.”

“The Collection is to include such items as:


  • The published and unpublished records of experiments, research and work of the late Sir Henry Royce,

  • Any objects whatsoever illustrating or connected with the science of mechanical engineering as it relates to Sir Henry Royce,

  • Those items that illustrate the activities associated with motor car manufacture, sale and distribution.”

The Foundation was officially launched on the 1st October 1999 at a meeting of interested supporters at the Fox Classic Car Museum in Melbourne at which there was a gallery displaying cars, engines, motors, models, photographs, memorabilia and related items by then collected and assembled by the Trustees.  Until The Foundation was able to establish its own premises, many years later, much of the collection was on public display at the Fox Museum.


There was a steady growth in donated funds, artifacts and memorabilia that forms the basis of the present collection. The Foundation found support from established organisations such as the Museums Victoria and the Australian War Memorial who loaned historic Rolls-Royce aero engines for display.


As an indication of the confidence placed in The Foundation for the preservation of the Australian heritage of Rolls-Royce, the two ex-Australian Government “royal” Phantom V limousines have been donated to The Foundation by separate donors.


In 2010, following a very generous donation from Jean Allsep, The Foundation was able to purchase a substantial building at Rowville (an outer suburb of Melbourne) in which The Foundation’s collection is now housed.  These premises, Bill Allsep House (BAH), are named after Jean’s late husband, Bill, a long-time, enthusiastic Member of the Victoria Branch of the RROCA.


Under the terms of a legal agreement between The Foundation and the Victoria Branch of the RROCA, the Branch has the use of Bill Allsep House as their club rooms with the day-to-day costs of occupancy being met by the Branch.


In 2014, following a very generous donation from Lionel Gell (a long-standing Member of the Victoria Branch of the RROCA), a second property was acquired nearby in Rowville.  These premises, the Lionel Gell School of Instruction for Rolls-Royce and Bentley (LGSI), have been set up with car hoists, benches and workshop facilities specifically to accord with the educational objectives of The Foundation – to promulgate the engineering ethos of Sir Henry Royce and his successors to a wider community.  LGSI is used, in part, by the Technical Section of the RROCA Victoria Branch for regular seminars.


The Foundation’s archival records collection is housed in Bill Allsep House was maintained by Gilbert Ralph until his retirement in 2021 and are now maintained under Russell Rolls and the BAH group of dedicated volunteers. 


This archival collection ranges from books, magazines, brochures, RROCA and Branch historical documentation to service records from Australian Rolls-Royce and Bentley dealers.  Further, The Foundation has a collection of over 20,000 photographic images documenting the history of the Club, the cars and the Company in Australia.  This is a valuable resource for Club Members and for wider historical research.

The Foundation also houses the archival collection from the Australian Chapter of the 20 Ghost Club.

Australia is a vast country with population centres thousands of kilometres apart in different States.  As the main Archives of the Sir Henry Royce Foundation are housed in Melbourne Victoria, it was decided that two Sub-Archives be established in Queensland; one a museum and the other a showroom. 


In Brisbane, items with special Queensland provenance are housed along with any copies of archival material from Melbourne. In Coolum, the large new premises is the showroom for the larger aero and ‘C‘ series Diesel engines as well as the second ex vice - regal Phantom V. 


Details of all Queensland catalogued items are forwarded to the Archivist for the central database of the SHRF. All items are subject to the same archival and cataloguing policies and procedures as the main SHRF Archive. The SHRF has legal ownership of all the material under the care of the curator of the Coolum premises, but all these materials will remain in Queensland for display as the core Sub-Archives, Queensland.

Originally in Queensland the SHRF had the Geebung Museum which was opened on 2 June 2018. It has five rooms of books and technical displays, various engines displayed in the front showroom, the Royce room, the Bentley room, tools and equipment and a TV room plus several bookshelves and cabinets of memorabilia. Car clubs and other interest groups regularly visit. The Geebung Museum was closed in June 2022 due to the sale of the building.

The Coolum Showroom of the Foundation was officially opened on 17 November 2018 by Federal MP Ted O’Brien. It contains 620 square metres of air-conditioned displays including 5 notable Rolls-Royce engines (including a 1945 Merlin aero engine), 340 model cars, archives, books and 7 very special Rolls-Royce and Bentley motor cars. It is open to the public (in normal times, without pandemic) on the first Saturday of each month, 7am to 10am, in conjunction with “Sunshine Coast Cars n Coffee” plus other times, by appointment, for car clubs and other special interest groups.


The Sir Henry Royce Foundation Australia is now an important element of the worldwide movement to preserve the historical artefacts and documentation relating to the engineering ethos of Sir Henry Royce and to the Rolls-Royce and Bentley marques.  The Foundation’s collection includes historically important aircraft engines, ex Australia Government “royal” Phantom Vs and an extensive archive of printed material and photographs, primarily related to Australian topics.  The educational objective of The Foundation is served by the collection being open to all.

bottom of page