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

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

Dorothée Aurélie M Pullinger

1894 – 1986

Dorothée Aurélie M Pullinger

Automotive engineer and pioneering businesswoman

Engineering Achievements

Dorothée Aurélie Marianne Pullinger trained under her father Thomas 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

  1. 1894 Born 13th January in St Aubin-sur-Scie, France
  2. 1902 Age: 8 Family moved to England. Attended Loughborough Girls Grammar School
  3. 1910 Age: 16 Junior in the drawing office of Arrol-Johnston, Paisley, Scotland
  4. 1914 Age: 20 Lady Superintendent of female war workers at Barrow
  5. 1919 Age: 25 Founding member of Women's Engineering Society
  6. 1920 Age: 26 Awarded MBE for work in WWI
  7. 1920 Age: 26 Director and manager of Galloway Motors Ltd, Tongland, Kirkcudbright, Scotland
  8. 1923 Age: 29 Production of Galloway car moved to Heathhall, Dumfries, Scotland
  9. 1923 Age: 29 First woman Member of the Institution of Automobile Engineers
  10. 1924 Age: 30 Winner of Scottish Six Day Car Trial driving the Galloway
  11. 1925 Age: 31 Sales representative for Galloway car, southern England
  12. 1928 Age: 34 Founded White Service Laundries Ltd, Croydon
  13. 1940 Age: 46 Employed by Nuffield Group to organise women recruits to munitions factories
  14. 1940 Age: 46 Only female member of Ministry of Production's industrial panel
  15. 1947 Age: 53 Settled in Guernsey
  16. 1950 Age: 56 Established Normandie Laundries, Guernsey
  17. 1986 Age: 92 Died 28th January in Guernsey

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."
Driving Force - Dorothée Pullinger and the Galloway, is in Glasgow's Riverside Museum
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry (full text available to subscribers and UK library members)

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