Before our resident bard took up his pen, he had spent a number of years in manufacturing, many of them with a local truck and bus company known as Leyland Motors. He was recently invited to revisit the site and as one would expect he just had to tell us about this special visit.

                       A PHOENIX FROM THE ASHES?

    My first association with Leyland Trucks, or just plain old Leyland Motors, as it was known as then, was in August 1952. It was to be 37 very happy years later in 1989 when I sadly departed the premises for the final time.
    Much has happened in the commercial vehicle manufacturing world in the ensuing years and during one particular bleak period for the industry; it appeared that the well-respected name of Leyland Trucks would, like many of its UK peers, disappear without a trace remaining. 
     Fortunately, this did not quite come to pass and although the business is much changed since the heady days I wrote about in my book TRUCKS, BUSES,PLANES AND TRAINS (plug definitely intended), the acquisition of the illustrious name of Leyland by the American truck manufacturer PACCAR in 1998 has undoubtedly seen the plant flourish and like the Phoenix rising from the ashes it has now become the group's established centre for light and medium truck design, development and manufacture.
      Thanks to my book previously mentioned (available through the Amazon website), I was invited to pay a visit to the plant by Operations Director, Peter Jukes to see for myself how modern day truck manufacture has changed over the past decades. Well I say manufacture, which in my day meant total manufacture where the making of many of the component parts as well as various stages of assembly and sub-assembly were the order of the day. However, times and methods of production evolve over the years and component manufacture is no longer a function carried out on the present day Leyland site. It is rather a highly sophisticated assembly plant, where all component parts are bought-in and assembled using a combination of stage and track assembly techniques. 
     This I know saddens the heart of many old-timers who yearn for the days when virtually everything was made on site. However, dinosaur that I probably am, I too must accept that the manufacturing world has moved on and if this is the way to ensure the business prospers and provides much-needed jobs for the local workforce then so be it.
      There were many high points in the visit and Peter proved to be an excellent guide, explaining many of the assembly processes to me with undoubted enthusiasm. However, on entering what once had been the old 0/500 Engine Factory I was instantly transported back more than 40 years to the time when I had been the foreman in charge of the factory, where components for the ill-fated 0/500 engine were both manufactured and assembled. On the day of the visit there was little activity to be seen in this area but on closing my eyes I could once again hear the rumble of what was then state-of-the-art machinery and I swear I caught a whiff of coolant oils as I passed the spot where crankshafts had once been expertly manufactured.
      All too soon the tour came to an end and as we made our way back to Peter's office, I searched in vain for any of the landmarks mentioned in my book (you can obtain either a Kindle version or a paperback copy by logging onto
      I had hoped to meet one or two familiar faces and indeed I did. However, after it being nearly 30 years since I left T'motors for the last time, it was not surprising to find that the few I did come across I remembered by name only as the inevitable passage of time can be cruel on both the body and the memory. However, minds were still alert as we stopped for a few moments and exchanged memories of those special times gone by - Happy days. 

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