Leyland Motors – calendar girls

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Leyland Motors
Leyland Lovelies

Head over to the British Commercial Vehicle Museum in King Street, Leyland Lancashire and you will be in for a rare treat. Built on the site of the old Leyland factory, you can enjoy visiting some real retro motor vehicles which were made there. Vintage Leyland Motors buses, fire engines and some terrific trucks.

Leyland motors – the Leyland ladies

You will also witness the original glamorous portraits of the Calendar Girls of Leyland Motors. Years before girls became Ladettes, there was the golden era of the Leyland Lady. The world of trucks is a rather macho one in general but for over 30 years the management at Leyland motors celebrated the fairer sex with their “Leyland Lady” calendar.

It was quite unusual in 1930 to use a free calendar as a promotional tool. This was no Pirelli calendar,  it was all done in a very genteel manner. There was not a wet T shirt in sight as each carefully painted portrait featured on the front of  “The Leyland – she’s a Lady,” calendar.

Leyland Motors
She’s a lady 1955

Leyland Motors – the girls from the factory floor.

The Leyland Ladies were based on girls who worked at the manufacturing firm. I  imagine it was a great honour to be selected for a portrait.

The trustee of the commercial vehicle museum, Stephen Bullock said:
“Leyland Ladies were very famous during Leyland Motors’ heyday. The company started doing the calendars because they wanted to get the Leyland name known worldwide, so they started making them for offices and workshops. It was a good way of getting the attention of the male workers.” After all, a pretty face always sells..
The calendars were called Leyland – She’s a Lady, because drivers referred to their vehicles as being females, much as they still do today. All of Eddie Stobart’s lorries have a female name across the front of their cab.

Leyland Motors
A gallery of gorgeousness
Leyland Motors
Glamour continued

Leyland Motors – painted by Walter Lambert

The original painter, Walter Lambert, used his wife as his inspiration for some of the early calendars. He he continued his elegant oil paintings until the late 1960’s.

In the Leyland Journal Walter said

“The fresh complexioned, typically English girl is easily the most popular for this type of work.”

The preponderance of fair-haired ladies over the 33 years of the calendars was put down in myth at least, to the fact that “Leyland Directors prefer blondes.”

It’s not very feminist, but it does show how times have changed. The intentions were quite respectful and innocent really.

Leyland Motors
1951 was another blonde year

Leyland Motors – the end of an era

The last portrait the museum has is from 1968, but there are seven missing from between 1930 and 1968. The search is still on to find the vanished ladies.

British Leyland dropped the calendars after rival firm Pirelli’s more ‘racy’ calendars became popular. A nice smile with a well tamed hair do just did not cut the mustard anymore.
It’s a piece of automotive history from a simpler time.

More about the British Commercial Vehicle Museum