‘History of Leyland’ wing opens at hotel

Fitting tribute: Mayor of South Ribble, Coun Graham Walton, with MD Stuart Hunter
Fitting tribute: Mayor of South Ribble, Coun Graham Walton, with MD Stuart Hunter

Leyland’s rich history has been brought back to life - in a rather unique way.

A luxury 1920’s car and two of the famous faces behind the ‘Leyland - She’s a Lady’ Leyland Motors’ calendars are the focus of a £275,000 refurbishment at the Best Western Premier Leyland Hotel.

Bosses at the Leyland Way hotel have sought the expertise of volunteers from the town’s British Commercial Vehicle Museum to develop the new ‘History of Leyland’ wing, which was unveiled during a special event this week.

The decor and furnishings have been designed to celebrate the heritage of the town’s motoring industry, with walls and cushions adorned with symbolic images of Leyland’s past.

Managing director of the Feathers Hotel Group, Stuart Hunter, said: “This is the gateway to Leyland and we’re committed to the investment of this hotel to create jobs and growth in the local economy.

“This new wing is a celebration of that investment and commitment. We’ve built up a good reputation which we’re very proud of, and we hope to continue getting the support of the public for this community hotel.”

Derek Westall, from the vehicle museum, said: “I’m very impressed with the new rooms. It’s a good idea to have a local theme, and the town of Leyland was really built from the trucks factories.

“We supplied photos from the museum archives. The hotel approached us and we gave them a photo of a Leyland Eight car, which was made in the 1920s to rival the Rolls Royce.

“It was too expensive though at about £3,200, around £120,000 in modern day money, and they ceased production after three years to focus on commercial vehicles, with less than 20 of the cars being made.

“The photo for the walls in the rooms and corridors of the wing has been reproduced from a glass plate negative from the early 1920s, and it’s amazing how well it’s turned out.”

He added: “The ‘Leyland - She’s a Lady’ calendars were given out for free by Leyland Motors as a marketing tool, and they quickly became collectors’ items.

“The artist, Walter Lambert, used models and women who worked for Leyland Motors in the offices, and we have most of the original paintings in the museum.

“After we gave the hotel the photo of the Leyland Eight car, they came back to us and asked about the calendars.”

A lady from the 1951 calendar, and one from 1961 are both featured as part of the 32 newly refurbished rooms, with cushions on the beds also showing off the artwork.

The Mayor of South Ribble, Coun Graham Walton, officially opened the new wing on Wednesday.