Local historians have joined forces with UCLan students and the British Commercial Vehicles Museum for a look back at one of Leyland’s forgotten industries.
Visitors were welcomed to a special presentation of Leyland Historical Society on April 11 to tell the history of the Leyland & Birmingham Rubber Company.
The society, together with Peter Ostenfeld from Nufox, the company who took over the business and workforce and Alix Green, from UCLan, have spent the past six months on the special project.
Their research has uncovered a wealth of material on the history of the firm and the workforce, including interviews with ex-employees.
Peter Houghton, from Leyland Historical Society, said: “A story of how one man, James Quin, brought an industry to the town of Leyland which has now disappeared. There are a few mysteries, many surprises and a wealth of urban myths.
“If your family moved to Leyland between 1865 and 1900, there is probably a rubber worker in your family.
“In the 1860s, rubber was the new material that had so many uses, from elastic bands to conveyor belts, hot water bottles to boats. What plastic was to the 20th century, rubber was to the 19th.”
South Ribble Museum is set to hold an exhibition later this year with the help of former staff member Ron Christopher, who also shared his knowledge at the free event at the Civic Centre, West Paddock in Leyland.
Peter added: “To research the Owd Rubber, we have checked archives at Preston, Manchester, Burton-upon-Trent and, of course, Leyland Museum, discovered many interesting facts and dispelled a few myths.
“The story of the Leyland rubber industry is well overdue being told, that other company with Leyland in its title overshadowed its once larger predecessor.
“In fact if you add up the workforce of the L & B with the other rubber factories in the town, namely B T R and Baxter’s, they were probably on a par for much of the 20th Century after their start in the 1850s / 1860s.”
The Leyland Historical Society has been around now for 48 years and members will celebrate their 50th Anniversary on July 1, 2018
Peter says work has already started on inviting a key note speaker for the evening.
Previous speakers have included David Starkey, Julian Richards, together with Mick Aston, Phil Harding and John Gater – all from Time Team.
The Society meets on the first Monday in the month from September until June in the Civic Centre, West Paddock, Leyland, except for May when the group venture out for the Bank Holiday with a coach trip to an historical town or village.
This year members will travel to Cockermouth to support the flooded inhabitants.
There are regularly 80 to a 100 members in attendance to meetings, with a total membership of 170.
Peter says the group also puts together the ‘Layland Chronicle’, a publication of members’ investigations over the past year.
For more on the group’s activities and details on projects visit the website www.leylandhistoricalsociety.co.uk
The website also has details of three historic walks around Leyland and many old photographs and articles.