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Dorothée Pullinger

Dorothée Pullinger

British automobile engineer and businesswoman, and a pioneering woman engineer
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro British automobile engineer and businesswoman, and a pioneering woman engineer
A.K.A. Dorothée Pullinger Martin, Dorothee Aurelie Marianne Pullinger, Dorothee Pullinger, Dorothee Pullinger Martin
Countries United Kingdom
Occupations Engineer
Gender female
Birth 13 January 1894 (Saint-Aubin-sur-Scie)
Death 28 January 1986 (Saint Peter Port)
Education Loughborough High School
The details

Dorothée Aurélie Marianne Pullinger, MBE (13 January 1894 – 28 January 1986) was a pioneering automobile engineer and businesswoman.

Early life

Born in Saint-Aubin-sur-Scie, Seine Inférieure, France, she was the eldest of the eleven children of the engineer Thomas Charles Pullinger (1867–1945), and his wife, Aurélie Berenice, née Sitwell (1871–1956). She was educated at Loughborough High School after the family moved to the UK when she was eight. In 1910, she began work as a draftsperson at the Paisley works of Scottish automobile firm of Arrol-Johnston, the oldest and largest Scottish car manufacturer, where her father, a well-known car designer, was now managing director.

World War I and munitions manufacturing

Pullinger remained at Arrol-Johnston until the start of World War I when it changed from producing cars to aeroplanes. She was appointed female supervisor of the very large munitions facility operated by Vickers in Barrow-in-Furness, where women were employed in the manufacture of high explosive shells. In 1916, her father created a new munitions facility at Arrol-Johnston near Kirkcudbright which included an engineering college for women and an apprenticeship program.

Galloway Motors and automobile manufacturing

After the war, she returned to Scotland where the munitions facility was converted back to the manufacture of automobiles and renamed Galloway Motors Ltd, where she was a director and manager. The company produced a car, the Galloway, for Arrol-Johnston that was designed for women. The company employed a largely female work force under Pullinger's direction and produced automobiles until 1923 when production was transferred to Arrol-Johnston's Heathhall works. She was an enthusiastic race car driver and won the cup in the Scottish Six Day Car Trials in 1924. She acted as a sales representative for Arrol-Johnston until 1925–6.

Marriage and later life

In 1924, Pullinger married Edward Marshall Martin (1895–1951), a ship's purser on the P&O passenger liner SS Naldera. They had two children, Yvette (b. 1926) and Lewis (b. 1931). In the late 1920s, Pullinger and her husband established White Service Steam Laundry Ltd in Croydon which expanded to 17 shops where American steam laundry equipment was installed. They sold the company in 1946. During World War II, she was the only woman appointed to the Industrial Panel of the Ministry of Production. As a member of the Conservative and Unionist Party, she served on a panel to address post-war problems, contributing to the 1944 report Looking Ahead: Work and the Future of British Industry. Dorothée Pullinger Martin moved to Guernsey in 1947, where she established Normandy Laundries in 1950. Later in life she still drove one of her own Galloways around the island, with apparently reckless disregard for the usual Highway Code, as related by a Guernsey writer George Torode, who actually knew her. The laundry company is still in existence. She died in Guernsey on 28 January 1986.

In 2012 she was inducted into the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame.

Significant achievements

  • One of the founding members of the Women's Engineering Society in 1919, a life-long member and active in the society's Council.
  • MBE awarded in 1920 for her work as a manager during the First World War at Vickers munitions production, responsible for 7000 women munitions workers.
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