The Calendar Girls of Leyland Motors

Leyland Lady, 1945
Leyland Lady 1945

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 and 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.

    The Leyland Ladies were based on girls who worked at the manufacturing firm and 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 – witness the Eddie Stobart phenomenon.

    A gallery of gorgeousness
    Glamour continued

    The original painter, Walter Lambert, used his wife as his inspiration for some of the early calendars, and he continued the paintings until the late 1960’s. Walter told the Leyland Journal “The fresh complexioned, typically English girl is easily the most popular for this type of work.” A 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.” None of this sort of thing would go down at all well today in the era of America’s next Top Model.

    1951 was another blonde year

    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, and a nice smile with a well tamed hair do just did not cut the mustard anymore.
    I wonder if it would outsell the One Direction Calendar? (top seller in the UK 2012)

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