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UCLan students paint local company history

27 May 2014

Lyndsey Boardman

Project shares story of Leyland Paint and Varnish Company  

The British Commercial Vehicle Museum in Leyland has enlisted the help of students from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) to share the history of one of the county’s best known businesses of the 20th century.

Four second year history students from the University have been asked by the museum to curate an exhibition charting the history of the Leyland Paint and Varnish Company from its formation in 1922 to its closure in the 1980s. At its height in the 1960s the company employed over 1,500 staff and had several factories in South Africa.

The students; Jenni Burrell, Rebecca Jones, Josh Monk and Viktorija Murane, have spent the last few months interviewing former employees and trawling through the Lancashire Records Office and Harris Library for the project.

They’ve charted the company’s development from its early days when it was established by the Jones family, during its work as part of the war effort, its expansion in the 1950s and 1960s and its demise in the 1980s which led to the business being sold off to a Yorkshire company in 1985.

The students have also looked at the social history of Leyland Paint and Varnish Company and how the roles of women in the workplace changed over 60 years as well as the many perks employees enjoyed in its golden era. The centre piece of the display is the last surviving vehicle to be operated by the company.

“It’s been a fascinating project and we’ve really enjoyed combining company facts with personal anecdotes from former employees who really brought the story to life. "

Student Josh Monk commented: “It’s been a fascinating project and we’ve really enjoyed combining company facts with personal anecdotes from former employees who really brought the story to life.

“A personal favourite of mine was an employee who sneakily made their own treacle syrup in a laboratory and narrowly missed out on being caught by the boss. Needless to say, he or she will remain anonymous!”

The exhibition will be unveiled on Friday 23 May at the British Commercial Vehicle Museum. As well as documenting many stories and facts the students have also included over 40 photographs taken throughout the company’s history and video footage of people at work in the factory courtesy of the North West Film Archives.

Museum volunteer and former British Leyland employee Roger Bullough said: “We’re really pleased with the professional display the UCLan students have created. This exhibition captures an important part of local business history and we’re excited to share it in such an insightful, informative and entertaining way.”

The History of the Leyland Paint and Varnish Company exhibition will be on permanent display at the British Commercial Vehicle Museum. For more information visit http://www.britishcommercialvehiclemuseum.com