Temple 2000 – Manchester, England - Atlas Obscura

Temple 2000

Hulme Park

A small statue shaped like the grill of a Rolls-Royce marks the suburban location where the company’s first automobiles were manufactured. 


People familiar with the history of Rolls-Royce may know that the founders of the company, Charles Steward Rolls and Henry Royce, first met at the Midlands Hotel in central Manchester in 1904, and multiple commemorations at the hotel mark this event. However, far fewer people may be aware of the location of the factory where Henry Royce first built the company’s automobiles.

This factory was located just south of Manchester City Center in the suburban area of Hulme. Henry Royce first established his business with Ernest Claremont in the area in 1884, but he initially manufactured things like domestic electrical fittings, dynamos, and electric cranes. He only started experimenting with the manufacturing of motor cars in 1901.

After meeting Charles Steward Rolls in 1904, Henry Royce would manufacture the first Rolls-Royce automobiles in this factory in Hulme. Eventually, Royce relocated the automobile manufacturing to Derby in 1908. The factory in Hulme would continue to manufacture cranes as part of a separate business named Royce & Co. (later Royce Ltd.). This business was later bought by Herbert Morris in 1932. Eventually, the factory was demolished, and the area was redeveloped as a suburban residential area.

In 2007, Manchester City Council commissioned a commemorative sculpture from noted artist George Wyllie to mark the site of Henry Royce’s first factory. At the time, Wyllie was recognized as “Scotland’s greatest living sculptor.” A self-taught artist who only broke into the art scene when he was in his 40s, Wyllie was known for such eccentric creations as Straw Locomotive (a locomotive-shaped sculpture made of straw that was set on fire after being displayed for 48 days) and Paper Boat (an enlarged version of a single sheet paper boat that could hold people and that sailed around the world).

Wyllie applied his eccentric perspective when creating the sculpture that would mark the location of Royce’s factory. Named Temple 2000, the sculpture is a 1.5-meter tall stainless steel sculpture that is shaped like the grill of a Rolls-Royce automobile but that also, in some ways, resembles the entrance to a Greco-Roman temple. Seven pillars stand on a base holding up a triangular top with the RR emblem and crowned with a stylized version of the company’s Spirit of Ecstasy hood ornament.

Today, Temple 2000 sits within a grassy area within Hulme Park near the site of the Royce’s first factory. Only the sculpture and a couple of additional historical plaques give any indication that this relatively mundane suburb to the south of Manchester was once an industrial area that saw the creation of one of the world’s most well-recognized automobile companies.

Know Before You Go

Temple 2000 stands in the middle of the southern section of Hulme Park between Royce Road and Stretford Road. The two other commemorative plaques are also located nearby. The park is open to visit at any time.

The location is easily reached by car (as may be expected), with parking available on the side streets adjacent to the park. The site is also less than a 15-minute walk away from the southern side of Manchester City Center, and several buses travel down Stretford Road from the city center and other locations within Greater Manchester.

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