Dorothée Pullinger

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Dorothée Aurélie Marianne Pullinger
Born(1894-01-13)13 January 1894
Died28 January 1986(1986-01-28) (aged 92)
St Peter Port, Guernsey, UK
Scientific career
FieldsAutomobile engineer and businesswoman
White Service Laundries Ltd
Normandy Laundries

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

Early life[edit]

Born in Saint-Aubin-sur-Scie, Seine Inférieure, France, she was the eldest of the 11 children of engineer Thomas Charles Pullinger (1867–1945) and Aurélie Berenice, née Sitwell (1871–1956). She was educated at Loughborough High School after the family moved to the UK when she was eight. The family settled in Swinlees farm, just outside Dalry, Ayrshire, where Dorothee created a sketchbook of drawings and simple paintings of the area.[1] 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,[2] where her father, a well-known car designer, was managing director.[3]

World War I and munitions manufacturing[edit]

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 large munitions facility operated by Vickers in Barrow-in-Furness, where women were employed in the manufacture of high explosive shells.[2] Her fluency in both English and French enabled her to manage the workforce of around 7,000, some of whom were Belgian and French refugees.[4] 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.[5]

Galloway Motors and automobile manufacturing[edit]

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.

In January 1921 Dorothée Pullinger was elected as the first female Member of the Institution of Automobile Engineers, although she initially rejected their offer of Associate Membership.[6][7] She was an enthusiastic race car driver and won the cup in the Scottish Six Day Car Trials in 1924.[3][5] She acted as a sales representative for Arrol-Johnston until 1925–6.

Marriage and later life[edit]

In 1924, Pullinger married Edward Marshall Martin (1895–1951), a ship's purser on the P&O passenger liner SS Naldera.[8] They had two children, Yvette (b. 1926) and Lewis (b. 1931, died 2021). In the late 1920s, Pullinger and her husband established White Service Steam Laundry Ltd.[2] 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 apparent reckless disregard for the usual Highway Code,[9] 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.[3]

In 2012 she was inducted into the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame.[10]

Significant achievements[edit]

  • One of the founding members of the Women's Engineering Society in 1919, a life-long member and active in the society's Council.[3][2]
  • MBE awarded in 1920 for her work as a manager during World War I at Vickers munitions production, overseeing 7000 women munitions workers.[3]


An exhibition about Dorothée Pullinger, including a Galloway coupe car dating from 1924, opened at the Riverside Museum in Glasgow in June 2019, as part of the Centenary celebrations for the Women's Engineering Society.[11][12] The opening was attended by her daughter Yvette Le Couvey.

An exhibition about Pullinger and her life was held at the Devil's Porridge Museum in Eastriggs, Dumfries and Galloway in 2021.[13][14]

Driving Force- Dorothee Pullinger and the Galloway Car display at Riverside Museum


  1. ^ "The Dalry Connection to the Arrol Johnston - Garnock Connections". Retrieved 2 September 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d Clarsen, Georgine (2003). "'A Fine University for Women Engineers': a Scottish munitions factory in World War I". Women's History Review. 12 (3): 333–356. doi:10.1080/09612020300200363.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Pullinger, Dorothée Aurélie Marianne". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 14 December 2011.(subscription required)
  4. ^ "Galloway Motors Ltd". Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Dorothee Pullinger pioneer in car". BBC Local, South Scotland, People and Places. 14 December 2009. Retrieved 14 December 2011.
  6. ^ "CELEBRATING WOMEN – IMechE Archive and Library". 19 December 2018. Archived from the original on 19 December 2018. Retrieved 3 July 2020.
  7. ^ Heald, Henrietta. Magnificent women and their revolutionary machines. London. ISBN 978-1-78352-660-4. OCLC 1080083743.
  8. ^ Cameron, Stuart. "SS Naldera". Clydebuilt ships database. Archived from the original on 7 September 2004. Retrieved 31 January 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  9. ^ Torode, George (2005). The Donkey Rides OUt. Guernsey. pp. 123–167.
  10. ^ "Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame Inductees: 2012 Inductees". Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame. 28 September 2012. Retrieved 1 October 2012.
  11. ^ "Pioneering car maker Dorothée Pullinger honoured in new exhibition". Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  12. ^ "The remarkable story behind pioneering car engineer Dorothee Pullinger". HeraldScotland. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
  13. ^ By (24 April 2021). "Dorothée Pullinger Exhibition". Devils Porridge Museum. Retrieved 5 May 2021.
  14. ^ "Dorothée Pullinger: Why was she so important for women's equality?". ITV News. 30 April 2021. Retrieved 5 May 2021.