Chronology of his life and works

1910Born Eaton Road, Chester.
1914Family move from Chester to house called Radnor View Cusop near Hay.
1920Ten-year-old Tom goes to Cheltenham College as a boarder.
1921Parents move to Stanley Pontlarge, Gloucestershire.more about Stanley Pontlarge
192616-year-old Tom leaves Cheltenham College.
Tom starts working with steam ploughing engines, at Bomford Bros, farmers and agricultural engineers.
Commences work at Pitchill.
Tom's father, Lily (Lionel), purchases new 12/50 Alvis model TE sports 4 seater from Earls Court Motor Show.
Tom purchases first motorcycle two & quarter HP BSA
Replaced with two & three quarter HP AJS.
192818-year-old Tom starts an apprenticeship at Kerr Stuart, locomotive builders, Stoke-on Trent.
Purchased first motor car, a 1922 GN ‘Popular’ for £6.
Uncle Kyrle Willans purchases 'Cressy' and converts it to provide accommodation cabin.
1929Tom has first trial trip on steam-powered 'Cressy' with Uncle Kyrle and cousin Bill.more about Cressy
1930Kerr Stuart goes bankrupt.
1931Commences work at R A Listers of Dursley.
Purchased 2nd motor car, another GN ‘Popular’.
1932Leaves R A Listers.
1933Worked for I A Bennett of Hungerford and also the Aldbourne Engineering Company.
Purchased 1922 Belsize-Bradshaw.
Purchased 1903 Humber.more about the 1903 Humber
Worked for The Sentinel Wagon Company.
Worked for Thorneycrofts of Basingstoke where he meets John Passini.
1934Goes with John Passini to The Phoenix pub at Hartley Whitney meeting landlord Tim Carson for the first time.
Writes first novel in spare time (Strange Vista).
Enters into partnership with John Passini to purchase a small garage adjacent to The Phoenix pub.
Involved with Carson and Passini in the formation of The Vintage Sports Car Club (VSCC), see VSCC website).
1935Phoenix garage opens for business.
Purchases a 1924 12/50 Alvis 2 seater sports model ‘Ducks Back’ for £10.
1936Possibility mooted of the VSCC acquiring Prescott as a hill climb venue.
Fledgling VSCC unable to afford Prescott, but Sam Clutton interests Bugatti Owners' Club (BOC) who purchase Prescott (see BOC website).
1937Writes three ghost stories, The Mine, The Cat Returns and New Corner.
Cat Returns and New Corner accepted for publication by Mystery Stories magazine.
Angela Orred drives into the Phoenix Green garage in a white Alfa Romeo.
Builds Phoenix special a sprint car amalgamating supercharged Brescia Bugatti engine with GN running gear.
1938Prescott Hill Climb opened for competition.
Tom competes with 12/50 Alvis 'Ducks Back' and Phoenix special.
1939Tom and Angela consider life afloat together.
Decide on a trial cruise and hire a boat named 'Miranda'.
Career as garage proprietor comes to an end.
Visits Uncle Kyrle Willans and buys narrow boat 'Cressy' from him for £100.more about Cressy
Sets off for Tooley's boat yard at Banbury where ‘Cressy’ is moored while Tom converts the boat to 'a grand design for living'.
Marries Angela at a London Registry office.
1940Moors at Church Minshull and commences work at Rolls Royce at Crewe.
Leaves Rolls Royce after six weeks and sets sail for Hungerford to work at The Aldbourne Foundry.
Locked fast in ice at Banbury for over three months.
1941Spring visit from Harry Rose results in starting work for the Ministry of Supply.
End of August moored at Tardebigge for what would be a stay of eighteen hundred days.
Tom's father, Lily (Lionel), suffers a stroke and dies at Stanley Pontlarge.
1943First becomes acquainted with Talyllyn Railway when with Angela annual summer leave is spent at Talyllyn.more about the Talyllyn Railway
Contract signed with Eyre & Spottiswoode for publication of his first book, Narrow Boat.
Sonia South signs on to work on the canals as part of the war effort. Sonia
1944Narrow Boat published by Eyre & Spottiswoode.
Commissioned by Robert Hale publishers to write a book on Worcestershire as part of Country Books series.
1945Tom first meets Sonia at a preview screening of the film Painted Boats in Birmingham.
1946'Cressy' after lying for four years at Tardebigge is sailed to Banbury for docking.more about Cressy
Three-month voyage on inland waterways of Ireland which will result in Green & Silver.
Following publication of Narrow Boat, receives a letter from Robert Fordyce Aikman, who suggests forming a society to campaign for the better use of the canals.
The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) is founded (see IWA website).
1947High Horse Riderless published by Allen & Unwin.
1948Sleep No More: Twelve Stories of the Supernatural published by Constable.
1949Green & Silver published by Allen & Unwin.
Worcestershire published by Hale.
1950The Inland Waterways of England published by Allen & Unwin.
1950Horseless Carriage: The Motor Car in England published by Constable.
IWA rally of boats at Market Harborough.
Tom and Sonia share the platform at an IWA meeting to lobby the TGWU to assist with the battle for better conditions for boaters.
1951Meeting in Birmingham at the Imperial Hotel results in the foundation of the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society (TRPS).more about the Talyllyn Railway
Angela and Tom's marriage effectively ends whilst moored at Banbury.
'Cressy' sailed to Stone for disposal.
Tom acts as salaried manager at Towyn for the TRPS's first season running the Talyllyn Railway.
The Thames from Mouth to Source published by Batsford.
1952Tom is expelled from the IWA as a result of internal disputes.
Spring visit to Ireland.
Lines of Character published by Constable.
Tom and Sonia move to Towyn, and Tom manages the railway for second season. Sonia
1953Tom acts as salaried manager at Towyn for the TRPS with support from Sonia.
Son Richard born to Tom and Sonia.
Tom and Sonia move to Stanley Pontlarge.
Railway Adventure published by Constable.
The British Travel & Holiday Association propose a competitive car rally between equally matched American and British cars.
Tom is asked to organize this Anglo-American rally.
1954Tom's mother moves into newly built Orchard Cottage at Stanley Pontlarge.
Winterstoke: The Story of a Town published by Constable.
Tom, Sonia and son Richard move in to the Stanley Pontlarge house.more about Stanley Pontlarge
1955Clouded Mirror published by J Lane.
VSCC anniversary held at Goodwood.
Second son Timothy born to Tom and Sonia.
Red for Danger published by J Lane.
1957Brunel published by Longmans.
Old VSCC friend Sam Clutton introduces Tom to John Smith
1958Thomas Telford published by Longmans.
1959Served on the Inland Waterways Restoration Committee until 1962.
1960The Cornish Giant: The Story of Richard Trevithick published by Lutterworth Press.
Campaigns for the formation of a National Railway Museum (see NRM website).
George and Robert Stephenson published by Longmans.
1961Visit to Ireland.
1962James Watt published by Batsford.
1963Tom organizes international veteran and vintage car rally.
Thomas Newcomen: The Prehistory of Steam published by David & Charles/Macdonald.
1964Tom and family help run the steam fair organised by John Smith at his home, Shottesbrooke Park.
1965Tools for the Job: A Short History of Machine Tools published by Batsford.
John Smith forms The Landmark Trust.
1967The Aeronauts published by Methuen.
Sonia starts working for the Landmark Trust, and continues working for them for 40 years (see Landmark Trust website).
1970 Tom instrumental in the formation of the Iron Bridge Gorge Museum Trust, rescue funds having been provided by the Landmark Trust (see Ironbridge website).
Trustee of the SS Great Britain Restoration Committee (see SS Great Britain website).
1971Landscape with Machines, an autobiography published by Longmans.
1973Tom makes his final voyage up his favourite canal, the Welsh.
At 35th anniversary Prescott meeting, Tom competes with 12/50 'ducks back' Alvis.
The Association for Industrial Archaeology is inaugurated with Tom as its first president (see AIA website).
19749th May Tom Rolt dies aged 64 and is buried in the churchyard at Stanley Pontlarge.more about Stanley Pontlarge Church
1975National Railway Museum opened by Duke of Edinburgh.
1977Landscape with Canals, a second volume of autobiography published by Allen Lane.
1989The Queen opens restored Kennett & Avon Canal.
1991Talyllyn Railway names a locomotive 'Tom Rolt' in his memory.
1992Landscape with Figures, a third and final volume of autobiography published by Alan Sutton.
1997A Canal People: the photographs of Robert Longden published by Alan Sutton, text By Sonia Rolt. Contains photos of Tom and Cressy. Sonia
2010The LTC Rolt Centenary
Sonia receives the OBE for services to industrial archaeology and to heritage.

This chronology of LTC Rolt’s life is adapted from a list compiled by an admirer of Rolt's, Tony Williams, which was based on the following books:

  1. Landscape with Machines, LTC Rolt
    Alan Sutton Publishing, 1984 edition reprinted 1986

  2. Landscape with Canals, LTC Rolt
    Alan Sutton Publishing, 1984 edition, reprinted 1986

  3. Landscape with Figures, LTC Rolt
    Allan Sutton Publishing, 1994 edition

  4. Tom Rolt and the Cressy Years, Ian Mackersey
    M & M Baldwin, 1991

© copyright Sonia Rolt