Leyland became a trusted name for paint and a British institution

Leyland Paint & Varnish Co., Ltd., 125 Church Street, Preston'1959 ad
Leyland Paint & Varnish Co., Ltd., 125 Church Street, Preston'1959 ad
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The company is closely connected with Leyland’s own local history, as well as the history of the surrounding areas.

The last remnant of the brand left town last week, when the East Street store closed its doors.

The history of the company had humble roots, but finally grew into a household name.

At the beginning, the company was small, with 24 employees, but when Leyland became one of the first to pioneer emulsion paints for homeowners with its famous Leytex brand, and the idea caught on fast, business started to boom.

In the 1930s, Leyland Paints took over a second store on the site of the old District Bank on Golden Hill Lane, and famous Preston cartoonist Leo Baxendale – best known for drawing The Bash Street Kids – got his first artist job designing labels for Leyland Paints.

Then came the Second World War – and Leyland Paints did its bit for the war effort, moving most of its paint production over to supplying the army and the government with paint. All this time the company was growing, opening stores all over the UK. By the mid-1960s, there were 80 shops in the UK trading under the Leyland Paints name, employing more than 1,000 people and supported by a network of factories across South Africa.

The company was even awarded the prestigious By Appointment to Her Majesty the Queen accreditation, cementing Leyland Paints’ national 
reputation as a byword for good quality paints.

Around this time, Leyland Paints also became a listed company, with shares to buy on the public stock exchange – an achievement usually reserved for companies of significant size, and just another example of how far Leyland Paints had come from its humble beginnings.

In 1984, the Leyland Painter of the Year competition was launched, awarding prizes to painters who used Leyland products. Painters as far afield as 
London and Edinburgh won prizes in the awards, which still take place today.

A year later, the company became part of Kalon Group PLC along with Kalon Limited, eventually being taken over by the global paints company PPG Industries.

In 1995 Kalon merged with Euridep – bringing on board the brands of Johnstone’s Paints, Manders and Windeck Paints which became part of the enlarged group.

But the famous paint brands for which Leyland is so well known are still putting the town on the map today – in fact, there are still more litres of Leyland Paints sold per year than there are male adults in the UK.