Town keeps on truckin’ as model trail launched

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From the Roadrunner to the Military Martian and the Super Hippo - Leyland took on a model edge as the world’s first Truck Trail was unveiled in the town.

Nestling beside roundabouts and mounted on grass banks, the colourful models are just some of the 13 replica Leyland Trucks vehicles lining the route from the town’s railway station to Worden Park.

Photo Neil Cross
Two year old Max Holmes at the official launch of the Leyland Truck Trail

Photo Neil Cross Two year old Max Holmes at the official launch of the Leyland Truck Trail

Taking inspiration from the success of the Superlambanana scheme in Liverpool, they aim to increase tourism in Leyland and celebrate more than 100 years of truck manufacturing in the town.

“This is will set South Ribble aside”, said council leader Peter Mullineaux as Leyland’s Truck Trail was launched yesterday.

“It’s quite imaginative and ingenious, and will be great for business and footfall in the town.

“The more people we can get involved the better.”

Photo Neil Cross
Official launch of the Leyland Truck Trail by Mayor of South Ribble, Coun Linda Woollard

Photo Neil Cross Official launch of the Leyland Truck Trail by Mayor of South Ribble, Coun Linda Woollard

The scheme, which has been 12 months in the making, has seen 13 six-foot replica trucks installed on a route from the town’s railway station to Worden Park.

They are all sponsored and designed by local companies and organisations who will get to keep the models when the trail display finishes in September.

A 14th truck designed by schoolchildren, will be unveiled at Leyland Festival in June, after a ‘Dragon’s Den’-style interview is carried out with teams.

The trail is the first of it’s kind in the world, and is supported with a dedicated smart phone app, which allows people following the trail to scan the trucks for information and a video on their significance.

South Ribble Borough Council Truck Trail Launch 2017 
Helen Pilkington and Nancy Hodges, four

South Ribble Borough Council Truck Trail Launch 2017 Helen Pilkington and Nancy Hodges, four

“It’s exciting, that’s the main thing”. said Shane Friend, managing director of Leyland marketing firm Stone Create, who came up with the idea.

“The concept was to increase tourism in Leyland, and then we developed the school side of things. Kids lose interest in subjects like maths if it’s not interesting, so we’ve got them to design the 14th truck and we’re going to be rolling out a two-year education programme to go along with this.

“The businesses that have sponsored the trucks have also shown unbelieveable interest - they want to be involved in the community - and have shown it with their investment of time and money.”

He added: “The feedback we’ve had so far has been fantastic, as we were unloading and unwrapping the trucks people were gathered round downloading the app.”

South Ribble Borough Council Truck Trail Launch 2017
Nathan McCracken unwraps DAF Truck

South Ribble Borough Council Truck Trail Launch 2017 Nathan McCracken unwraps DAF Truck

The first family to complete the trail were Alice Holmes, 25, her two-year-old daughter Ava Durant-Holmes, nephew Max Holmes, and their grandmother Lynda Holmes.

Alice, from Leyland, said: “I saw it on Facebook and decided that it would be a really nice way of getting the kids out for the day. We need more things like this in Leyland.

“I’m really impressed, it’s really well done.”

Manufactured from a welded steel frame, the pieces are all designed around a vehicle produced by Leyland Trucks since its inception in 1896, and boast names including ‘Super Hippo’, ‘The Comet’ and ‘Military Martian.’

Bryan Sitko, managing director of Leyland Trucks, said: “I have never been somewhere where there is such a community of experience around truck manufacture and design.

“Today’s event is very important in kicking off our future.

“The future of trucks is going to be electric, autonomous and we have 100 design engineers working on designing that future in Leyland.

“But we also want to get the youth of this area dreaming and excited about the future, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what designs they put forward.”

South Ribble’s Leyland Forum has supported the trail’s development and has sponsored a replica Olympian bus situated in Hough Lane. Predominantly orange in colour, it features blue flowers to represent South Ribble being a dementia-friendly borough.

Councillor Jane Bell, chairman of the forum, said: “This is about celebrating us all working together. A tremendous amount of hard work has gone into this, from the businesses sponsoring it, to the schools and the council’s community team.

“This will attract people to the town, which can only be a good thing, it’s educational, and it’s very much a family fun thing.”

Scott Montgomery is regional sales manager for Hallmark Hotels, which has sponsored the Super Hippo outside Tesco supermarket in Towngate.

He said: “It’s nice for the company to be involved in something unique like this.

“We have Norma the fire engine outside our hotel, our rooms are themed to reflect Leyland’s past, so it makes sense that we would want to celebrate the town’s manufacturing heritage and sponsor a truck.

“It’s a great feature for Leyland and a great opportunity for promoting businesses too.”

A spokesman for the South Ribble Liberal Democrats said: “It’s a wonderful idea. I hope that this will encourage footfall in the Leyland area.”