Tom Rolt was born in Chester to a line of Rolts "dedicated to hunting and procreation". His father Lionel had settled back in England in Hay-on-Wye after working on a cattle ranch in Australia, a plantation in India and joining (unsuccessfully) in the Yukon gold rush of 1898. However he lost most of his money in 1920 after investing his capital in a company which failed and the family moved to a pair of stone cottages in Stanley Pontlarge in Gloucestershire.
Tom studied at Cheltenham College and at 16 took a job learning about steam traction before starting an apprenticeship at the Kerr Stuart locomotive works in Stoke-on-Trent, where his uncle, Kyrle Willans was chief development engineer. His uncle bought a wooden narrow fly horse boat called Cressy and installed first a steam engine and then (having discovered the steam made steering through tunnels impossible) a Ford Model T engine. This... Read More