James Sumner (1860 – 1924) was a British Engineer involved in the manufacture of steam lawn movers and experimenting with self-propelled steam vehicles. In 1892 , he converted a tri-cycle to run on steam.

In 1895 , he designed and developed a 3 wheel steam car for Mr Theodore Carr.

In 1896 , he along with Henry Spurrier (1840 – 1922) and his sons Henry Spurrier II (1869 – 1942) and George Spurrier (1872 – 1946), formed the Lancashire Steam Motor Company in the town of Leyland. In 1897 , they introduced the first steam wagon.

1899/1900 saw the introduction  of stem passenger vehicles which started the bus business. Below is the 1900 steam bus sold to Dundee Motor Omnibus. In fact the first export was a steam mail van to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

While the company was manufacturing bigger and better steam trucks and buses, they were experimenting with Petrol-engine power also. In 1904, they introduced the first Petrol-engine Lorry , named as “The Pig”.

In 1907 , Lancashire Steam Motor company was renamed as Leyland Motors , taking the name of the town where it was located.

Leyland continued its domination of the Lorry and Bus market , shifting out of steam to petrol. In 1920, they introduced their car – Leyland Eight.

Leyland Eight was sophisticated and expensive and did not sell well. It was stopped in 1923.

Leyland continued its domination in the Lorry and Bus segment. Leyland was the first to design buses to maximize passenger space which led to the driver sitting on one side of the engine as well as Double-Decker buses. Below is a 1906 Leyland bus and a Double-Decker bus.

Leyland also had the concept of “Leyland Zoo” where the trucks were named after animals , including Octopus for their multi-axle trucks.

After the acquisition of Standard Triumph in 1963, the company was renamed as Leyland Motor Corporation. In 1968 Leyland Motor Corporation merged with British Motor Holdings (BMH) to form the British Leyland Corporation (BLMC). This merger brought in a bouquet of cars (Morris, Austin, Wolseley, Siddley, Standard, Triumph, Rover) under the BLMC umbrella.

In 1975, after financial problems, BLMC was nationalised and renamed as British Leyland (BL). In 1986 , they acquired the Rover group. In 1987 , the DAF group of  Netherlands acquired BL and the company was renamed as Leyland DAF.

1993 saw the bankruptcy of DAF group which led to the management take over as well as splitting in to Leyland trucks LDV Limited (for Vans) Leyland Bus and spare parts division LEX.

In 1998 , Leyland truck was sold to PACCAR group of USA and prior to DAF bankruptcy, Leyland Bus was sold to Volvo in 1988.

The Leyland Logo –

In India , Leyland still lives on in the form of Ashok-Leyland.

 

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