Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame

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One of the shop floors of the Heathhall works, Dumfries, during production of Sopwith Camel wings for WWI. Note the number of women workers.

Dorothee PullingerDorothée Aurélie Marianne Pullinger (1894-1986), engineer and pioneering businesswoman

Engineering achievements

Dorothée trained under her father at the Arrol-Johnston car works in Paisley. During WW1, Vickers employed her as their Lady Superintendent in charge of 7,000 female war workers at Barrow, where she set up their apprenticeship scheme. After WWI, she became a director and manager of the Galloway Engineering Ltd factory in Tongland, Kirkcudbright, staffed by women. During WWI the factory had been supporting the war effort, as had the Heathhall factory in Dumfries (pictured above). Renamed Galloway Motors Ltd, the factory produced the car she had remodelled for women - the Galloway (10/20 CV , 4 cylinders, capacity 1528 cc.) based on the Fiat 501. This was the first ever car designed specifically for women and it is still the only one to go into general production on that basis. It remained in production in a variety of versions until 1925, and then as a 'badge-engineered' Arrol-Johnston from 1926 to 1929.

She relocated to England with her family, and worked as sales represesentative for the Galloway. Around the time Arrol-Johnston ceased production of cars, she set up a large, technically innovative steam laundry in Croydon, with imported American machinery and its own power station and arterial well. In WW2 she set up the women's industrial war work programme for Lord Nuffield and ran 13 factories. She was the only woman on a post-war government committee formed to recruit women into factories.

Her Life

Age Event Year
Born 13th January in St Aubin-sur-Scie, France 1894
8 Family moved to England1902
Attended Loughborough Girls Grammar School
16 Junior in the drawing office of Arrol-Johnston, Paisley, Scotland1910
20 Lady Superintendent of female war workers at Barrow1914
25 Founding member of Women's Engineering Society1919
26 Awarded MBE for work in WWI 1920
26 Director and manager of Galloway Motors Ltd, Tongland, Kirkcudbright, Scotland1920
29 Production of Galloway car moved to Heathhall, Dumfries, Scotland1923
29 First woman Member of the Institution of Automobile Engineers 1923
30 Winner of Scottish Six Day Car Trial driving the Galloway1924
31 Sales representative for Galloway car, southern England1925
34 Founded White Service Laundries Ltd, Croydon1928
46 Employed by Nuffield Group to organise women recruits to munitions factories 1940
46 Only female member of Ministry of Production's industrial panel1940
53 Settled in Guernsey1947
56 Established Normandie Laundries, Guernsey1950
92 Died 28th January in Guernsey 1986

Her Legacy

Pullinger was the first person, and certainly the first woman car designer, to see both the need for a different design of car for women drivers and also the design and engineering solutions to bring that about commercially. She remains to this day the only person to design and take into production a car specifically designed with women drivers in mind.

She achieved this, and more, at a time when men dominated engineering and industry, and working women were often regarded as "stealing a man's job". A woman of remarkable resilience and talent, a leader in recruiting women into engineering during wartime, an MBE at the age of 26, a founder of the Women's Engineering Society in 1919, an accomplished engineer in her own right, and a pioneer and inspiration for women in engineering.

More Information

A fine university for women engineers: a Scottish munitions factory in World War 1. G.Clarsen, Women's History Review, vol.12, no.3, 2003, pp333-356.
There is a Galloway car in Riverside Museum, Glasgow.
Eskdale motor reliability trial, Scotsman 18th October 1921, p.7 and others.
D. Pullinger, N. Baker, entry in: The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women, Edinburgh University Press. ISBN: 978-0-7486-3293-0.
private communications. Dorothée Pullinger's son, Lewis Martin, and daughter Yvette, provided recollections of their mother's life in several personal communications, 2003-12.
A plaque on a wall in Barrow-in-Furness states "one of the first women professional engineers; 1914-19 Lady Superintendent Vickers Limited."
A major exhibition, Driving Force - Dorothée Pullinger and the Galloway, is running from 21 June 2019 until 31 January 2020 in Glasgow's Riverside Museum
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry (full text available to subscribers and UK library members)

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