News : Leyland National DVD Project – Update

The first and last Leyland Nationals

Well, what a year it’s been so far for getting this filming project off the ground. I have literally been all over the country from as far south as Essex to as far away as Leyland and Cumbria in the North West along with John Clancy photographing, interviewing and filming. Rather like our last collaboration – Project 75 – we reckon this one is going to be special too thanks to getting some truly key people, who were there right from the very start of the Leyland National’s conception, on screen.

We have spoken to drivers, Engineers and even former Leyland Directors, all of whom, rather like the folk on the Rover 75 film, remain proud of what they achieved over fifty years ago. We have even taken a preserved National out for a long test drive through the Warwickshire countryside – you’ll never imagine how nervous I was to be at the wheel with a former Leyland Chief Engineer sitting just a few seats behind me! We have covered two big bus gatherings as well, one of which also found us taking a bus into the former Workington plant.

I have even persuaded a contact of mine, who is very senior in the rail industry, to have a camera shoved in his face and talk about his experiences operating the British Rail Class 142 Pacer – a train that was directly developed from the National bus. So, there’s one more interview to do plus some voice over work and then it’s all into the editing suite. We hope to have this done, dusted and on-sale before the year is out.

Fingers crossed!

Mike Humble

2 Comments

  1. A lot of ground to cover here but i’ll try to keep it brief! Stumbled across AROnline during Covid and it became a rabbit hole I was sucked down on a daily basis. Always been into cars, was driving buses at the time, now back driving lorries. Long procession of Fords in my ownership, but now fancy something from the BL / BLMC stable. I was already pretty well acquainted with the history of the above, but the articles on here have increased my knowledge tenfold. I’m especially liking the “I was there” threads. What is regarded as relatively recent but vitally important memories can so easily be lost.

    The National was the bus of my childhood, you could here them coming when they they pulled away from the junction in the village half a mile away and if one was accelerating past you when you were on your pushbike you held your breath! An apprenticeship in a Bus Company followed and with deregulation the previously standardised fleet of Fleetlines and Olympians was augmented with a selection of aged Nationals one of which popped its clogs and due to lack of interest of the time served fitters became the first engine I rebuilt. Still prefer Bristol’s and Fleetlines mind, but getting quite nostalgic about them now! Enjoyed the talks at Gaydon as well.

  2. As I’ve said before, the Leyland National was Cumbria’s attempt to build up a motor industry and for 22 years, the Workington factory employed 500-600 people and had a sideline in building DMUs at a factory which had a rail link to Workington docks. ( The wooden bridge, which carried the rail line to the docks and was also used by the local steelworks, sadly was badly damaged in the storms of 2009 and demolished.)

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