Dorothée Pullinger: Why was she so important for women's equality?

  • Video report by Ralph Blumson

She's described as a true pioneer, a champion of women's equality, but the chances are you've never heard of her.

Dorothée Pullinger set up her own car company and encouraged the employment of women engineers in Dumfries and Galloway. Her story is being told at a museum near Eastriggs.

She is most famous for developing the 'Galloway Car', made in factories near Kirkcudbright and Dumfries between 1920 and 1928.

It was a vehicle made mainly by women and designed for women in the south west of Scotland. The driving force behind the car was Dorothée, born in Normandy and raised in Dumfries.

The Galloway Car Credit: ITV News

This exhibition at the Devil's Porridge museum tells her story.

Museum manager Judith Hewitt said: "World War One offered women this opportunity to go into skills and trades that they never previously dream of. Then at the end of the war it was right women go back to the home, go back to the family, and give up this training and these skills.

"Dorothée was one of the pioneers of the Women's Engineering Society which was essentially to say 'no' - the skills that women have learned they are going to retain."

Key components of the exhibition were the culmination of research by the University of the West of Scotland.

Professor Katarzyna Kosmala told ITV Border: "In 1919, she was one of the founding members of the Women's Engineering Society, so that was the next step for women to become engineers and train as engineers. Incredibly remarkable achievements."

Dorothée Pullinger Credit: University of the West of Scotland

The car is an Arrol-Johnston dating from 1919 , it was made on the same production line as the Galloway cars Dorothée's father managed this car company.

This car is owned by the museum's Neil McGarva who believes the Galloway is a historically important vehicle.

He said: "It was something that had never been done before, a completely new concept to have women actually producing a car and designing the car in a way that made it more useable for other women to drive by making the steering again lighter." 

The artist whose information panels form a major part of the display describes Dorothée as an inspiration. Ilona  Kacieja said: "I am very inspired by her and by her personality and how determined she was and what she achieved in those difficult times".

The exhibition is on until the start of September. Find more information here.