Iconic Popemobile WILL be back in action for this year's Leyland Festival

The iconic Popemobile is set to return to action at this year’s Leyland Festival

By Tom Earnshaw, Reporter
Friday, 31st May 2019, 8:55 am
Updated Friday, 31st May 2019, 9:55 am
The Leyland-made Popemobile in 1982 for Pope John Paul II's visit to Lancashire
The Leyland-made Popemobile in 1982 for Pope John Paul II's visit to Lancashire

The 24 ton truck, which was built for Pope John Paul II’s visit to Lancashire in 1982, was out of action at last year’s festival due to reported high costs in getting it back on the road.

It was being stored at Leyland’s DAF Assembly Plant, with a £1,000 figure reported to get it roadworthy.

But after extensive refurbishments to the vehicle’s home, the British Commercial Vehicle Museum in King Street, Leyland, the transformation of the interior of the museum has helped to secure the vast collection of motor heritage for generations to come.

Pope John Paul II puts his feet up while Sarah Moss of Leyland Brownies pours the tea. The surprise was part of a national challenge in which thousands of brownies arranged the most unusual tea-party. The Leyland Brownies chose to stage theirs in the world famous Popemobile

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“We are delighted to have the Popemobile lead parade once again this year.”

The Popemobile – or ‘Papamobile’ in Italian – is a truck-based vehicle specially created by Leyland Motors for Pope John Paul II’s visit to the UK in 1982.

The custom-made towering vehicle was designed by Ogle Design of Letchworth to give audiences a clear view of the Pope as he travelled around Lancashire and the wider country, with crowds of more than one million plus expected.

The Popemobile in 1982

The 24 ton truck has bullet proof glass and under-floor armour to protect the Pope during his visit. The body design incorporates low ballistic material to repel small firearms.

Its Leyland Constructor Chassis was chosen for its renown off-road capability and speed if an emergency arose.

The Mayor and Mayoress of South Ribble, Coun Harry Hancock and his wife Marion, will be aboard the Popemobile as it leads the 2019 festival parade.

British Commercial Vehicle Museum Manager, Keith Moyes, said: “It is one of many treasured exhibits in our family-friendly museum.

The Popemobile in the Britsh Commercial Vehicle Museum

We hope that as well as enjoying the festival celebrations, visitors will also come to our newly refurbished museum and see what we have to offer.”

Leyland Festival returns on Saturday, June 15. For more information visit https://www.leylandfestival.co.uk/