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LOT 1232

1914 Leyland S-Type "Subsidy B" 30cwt Dropside Lorry Registration no. LE 7559 Chassis no. S3/332 Engine no. S560(895)

Sold for £27,600 inc. premium
Lot 1232
1914 Leyland S-Type "Subsidy B" 30cwt Dropside Lorry
Registration no. LE 7559 Chassis no. S3/332 Engine no. S560(895)

1914 Leyland S-Type "Subsidy B" 30cwt Dropside Lorry
Registration no. LE 7559
Chassis no. S3/332
Engine no. S560(895)


Purchased in March 1972 for £350 from Osmond Bennett & Son Ltd in Portlaoise, Ireland, as a chassis with the vestiges of a cab, this 30-cwt lorry is one of the rare World War One Subsidy Scheme lorries that feature in the collection, and is believed to have served with the Irish Army. This particular truck, new around May 1914, has been part-restored as a dropside lorry.

Originally known as the Lancashire Steam Motor Company, Leyland had built steam commercial vehicles since 1896, and produced their first petrol lorry, the Class Z, unkindly nicknamed "the Pig", in 1904. It was followed in 1906 by the X-Type, and in 1912 the company introduced the S-Type Subsidy Lorry. Leyland was the first manufacturer to be granted a certificate by the War Office following the Subsidy Scheme trials in 1912, and also the only manufacturer to gain approval in both Subsidy A (3-ton) and Subsidy B (30 cwt) classes. Subsidy A had the S3.30-hp engine and Subsidy B the smaller S3.24-hp power unit. Both sizes of engine used the basic S3 crankcase and cylinder blocks, but the 30hp was bored out to give a bigger swept volume. The success in the trials resulted in an initial order for 88 chassis. "Specially built to secure the War Office Grant of £110", the 30-hp Leyland Subsidy Lorry sold for £780.

By the outbreak of war in 1914 the company had built some 1275 petrol lorries against 415 steam wagons.

The Subsidy B 30-cwt model was uprated with the 30-hp engine to become Class S3/30/V4, while the Subsidy A 3-tonner was uprated with the S4.36-hp engine, becoming S4/36/X4.

Initial production was taken up by the Army Service Corps, but from 1915 Leyland trucks were allocated to the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service. During the conflict, many Leylands were used as mobile workshops for servicing aircraft in the field. When the two services combined to form the Royal Air Force on 1 April 1918, the Leyland became universally known as the "RAF Type". These were a popular model and by late 1916 output from the Leyland factory was running at 30 a week. Total production during the war was some 6000 chassis – of which 4271 were in service at the Armistice – and the workforce had grown from 1500 at the start of hostilities to over 3000 at the height of the war. It had even opened a steel works with its own power station.

After the war, the government announced that it was to auction off the vast bulk of its 66,000-strong fleet of military vehicles, Leyland realised that this would kill the market for new commercial vehicles. So the company bought back over 3000 ex-WD Leyland trucks and took over an aircraft hangar at Ham, near Kingston-upon-Thames, to recondition them (at a loss) in order to prevent war-weary vehicles from entering the second-hand market straight from a government sale and tarnishing Leyland's good name for reliability.

This well-preserved Subsidy Scheme lorry is obviously eligible for the many Great War commemoration events that will take place over the next four years.

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  • 12 June 2014, 09:00 - 17:30 BST

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