Dorothee Pullinger displays honours trailblazing automotive engineer

Friday 1 July - Saturday 17 December, 2022

_Driving Force: Dorothée_ _Pullinger and the Galloway Car _celebrates
the achievements of British engineering pioneer, business woman and
racing driver Dorothée Pullinger. Dorothee co-founded the Women’s
Engineering Society (WES) and we are delighted the new display opens
in its centenary year.

 

The centrepiece is a rare Galloway motorcar built in 1924 at the
Heathhall factory Pullinger managed, which was legendary for the large
number of women engineers it employed. Pullinger led by example paving
the way for women in engineering as well as in motor sport. She defied
the conventions of the time by becoming a young engineer, but in 1920
she came up against the prevalent gender-bias of the time when she
applied to join the Institution of Automobile Engineers and was turned
down on the grounds that ‘the word “person” means a man and not
a woman’.

 

Dorothée Pullinger was born in France in January 1894. Her father was
the car designer Thomas Pullinger. The family moved to the UK and in
1910 she started work at Arrol-Johnston, a car manufacturer in
Paisley, Scotland, where her father was a manager.

 

When World War One started Dorothée was in charge of female munitions
workers at Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria. While employed there she
introduced a canteen system that provided meals for the workers and
ended up being responsible for around 7,000 people. She was later
awarded an MBE for her work during the war. After the war Dorothée
returned to Scotland and to cars, resuming her engineering training.
From there she became the manager of the Galloway Engineering Company,
a subsidiary of Arrol-Johnston, at its factory near Kirkcudbright. In
the early 1920s production of the Galloway motor car began. Dorothée
Pullinger played a central role in its success.

 

Galloways were described by _Light Car and Cycle _magazine in 1921 as
‘built by ladies, for those of their own sex’. This was exactly
what Dorothée had envisaged. Smaller and lighter than most cars of
the time, it featured gears in the middle of the car rather than
outside, the steering wheel was smaller with the seat raised and the
dashboard lowered.

 

The 1920s was a difficult time for independent car makers, only 4,000
Galloways were made and the factory ceased production by the end of
the decade. The Galloway car on show at Riverside Museum is believed
to be one of only 15 that remain worldwide and one of only four in
Scotland.

 

Dorothée also liked to drive and in 1924 she was ‘the first lady
competitor’ to enter an annual race called the Scottish Six Days
Trials. She won the silver cup. Also on show are two loaned objects
from the Pullinger family; a small racing medal awarded to Dorothee in
1922 and her A5 sketchbook from 1908, featuring watercolours painted
near their home in Dalry when she was 14. These are complemented by a
thistle mascot that would have been on the bonnet of select cars, an
engine badge, a Galloway catalogue, a cloche hat and a pair of 1920s
shoes. Inside the car a specially-commissioned costume will be
presented to reference the costume Dorothée wore when she competed in
the 1924 Scottish Six Days Trials.

 

Three films help bring the story to life for visitors. The first, an
interview with two young Scottish rally drivers, Erica Winning and Amy
McCubbin, who describe what it is like to be female rally drivers
today and compare their experience with Dorothée’s racing in the
1920s, explaining why she is such an inspiration. A second features a
young engineer dressed in the Galloway factory uniform talking about
the car and its key elements. The last film introduces two of
Dorothee’s children speaking about their mother.

 

_Driving Force: Dorothée_ _Pullinger and the Galloway Car _is located
on the ground floor of Riverside Museum by the car wall at the South
entrance.

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Dates & Times

Riverside Museum
100 Pointhouse Place, Glasgow, G3 8RS
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