All roads lead to Leyland's new look £1.8m vehicle museum

Aaron Dorset aged 5 and Torrin Baker aged 4 in the giant wheels of a steam engine. Picture by Paul Heyes.
Aaron Dorset aged 5 and Torrin Baker aged 4 in the giant wheels of a steam engine. Picture by Paul Heyes.
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Eager visitors flocked to Leyland’s British Commercial Vehicle Museum at the weekend as the popular venue relaunched following a major refurbishment.

The King Street museum - closed since September 2017 - reopened to the public at 10am on Saturday.

And the verdict was an overwhelming thumbs up from the early birds who made their way there for the occasion.

The work - carried out with the help of a £1.8m National Lottery grant - has resulted in major alterations.

A new Emma’s Cafe has been re-sited closer to the museum entrance.

The old cinema has been dismantled and replaced by a state-of-the-art conference suite.

A new archives department has been constructed within the existing building and there is a new, much improved lighting system.

An impressive Time Line of archive photographs projected videos on the museum walls traces the history of road transport from the earliest of days right up to present times. There are many hands-on interactive displays to entertain all age groups, and a specially-designed Lorry Driving Experience for the young and young at heart.

And, of course, there is the fine display of historic vehicles, engines and transport-related artefacts.

The shop, too, has also been re-sited and offers many souvenirs and gifts.

Among the early visitors on Saturday morning was Dennis Pennington, 71, of Lostock Hall, and members of his family.

They included Valerie Pennington, 62, of Leyland, and Pamela Pennington, 35, with son Oliver, four, of Walton-le-Dale.

Dennis said: “They’ve done a really good job. It’s exceptional. They’ve worked hard.”

Pamela said: “We used to bring Oliver before when he was a baby. It’s great, we’ve just bought an annual pass so we can come as we like. It think it’s important to teach the little ones of the heritage.”

Valerie said: “I think it’s brilliant. We’ve been wanting to come for a while.”

Kevin and Jane Mallin, were up from Halesowen in the Midlands.

“We’ve come up to collect an engine he was having work done on - as we passed we saw it. It’s really good. I’m interested in the horse-drawn ones because we’ve got horses.”

Microlight enthusiast Kevin said he was an apprentice for Leyland vehicles in Oldbury and used to come to Chorley and Leyland.

Bus enthusiast John Ainscough, 67, of Clayton Brook, said; “It’s very nice, they’ve done a very good job of it.”

Tony Rowe, 76, of Leyland, said: “It’s changed completely. There’s not as many vehicles as there were before, you can get around easier and see what’s here.

Yes, I like it. I live locally so I come quite regularly.

“I used to work for Leyland Motors in supplies at Pilling Lane in Chorley and finished up running the dispatch office for them.”

Mum-of-one Jodie Douglas, 32, of Blackburn, took along her daughter Alana, two.

“It’s somewhere for Alana to have a look at all the big trucks and get in them and explore them,” said Jodie. “I think it’s brilliant. I’ve never been before. I’ve been wanting to come for a while."