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Atkinson In 1907 Edward Atkinson and his brother Harry, together with a partner George Hunt, set up an engineering business, Atkinson & Co. at Frenchwood Avenue, Preston. The company soon moved to bigger premises at Kendal Street, undertaking motor and steam wagon repairs. It took on a repair agency for Alley & MacLellan, the founders of the famous Sentinel Steam Waggon, built at that time in Polmadie, Glasgow. By 1916 Edward Atkinson had decided to build a wagon of his own design, having relinquished the Alley & MacLellan agency when Sentinel moved to Shrewsbury in 1915. While Atkinson produced a successful steam wagon, the post-war slump of the 1920s saw the company in financial difficulties. A brief but unsuccessful merger with Walker Bros. of Wigan, under which the products were called Atkinson-Walker wagons, ended in 1930. With no prospect of recovery, the company fell into the hands of the receivers who eventually sold it to St Helens-based speculators J. Jenkins, H. Johnson and J. Lytheer in 1931. At first the rescued company carried on with steam wagon repairs as well as carrying out third-axle conversions, but some experimental trucks were built in 1931 - one being a bonneted four-wheeler with Dorman diesel engine. Following the death of Edward Atkinson in 1932, a London businessman, W. G. Alien of Nightingale's Garage, bought the business and it was renamed Atkinson Lorries (1933) Ltd. Soon it was decided to build diesel-engined trucks to compete with the likes of Foden and ERE In 1935 Atkinson moved to bigger premises in Marsh Lane, Preston. Early Atkinsons featured Gardner diesels, Kirkstall axles and vacuum hydraulic brakes. In the six years up to the beginning of World War II only 50 trucks were built but they included four, six and eight-wheelers as well as twin steer six-wheelers. Atkinson was one of the few UK manufacturers to be allowed to continue civilian truck production during World War II, under the direction of the government. Shortages of Gardner engines led to the use of AEC diesels during the war. Post-war demand was such tliat Atkinson moved again, into a new factory at Winery Lane, Walton Ie Dale in 1947. It was, by then, one of the UK's leading truck builders and it soon built up a healthy export trade. Throughout the 1950s and '60s Atkinson went on to produce a huge variety of road-going and specialized trucks. Its mainstream products were forward-control load carriers and it diversified into heavy-duty dump trucks and special oil-field tractors such as the massive bonneted Omega of 1957, which was powered by a 333bhp supercharged Rolls Royce C6.SFL coupled to a Self Changing Gears 8-speed semi-automatic gearbox and capable of hauling 90 tons over desert terrain. The haulage range consisted of four. six and eight-wheelers powered almost exclusively by Gardner diesels. From 1958 all models could be ordered with a new Mk.l fibreglass cab with a panoramic two-piece wrap-around windscreen. During the late 1960s the company offered an increasing choice of tractor units, including twin-steer and rear-steer six-wheeled versions. Engine choice was widening to include Rolls Royce and Cummins diesels. From 1963-64 a weight saving specification was offered in the form of Weightmaster models with a trimmed-(lown specification and lower-powered engines for the lightest possible unladen weight. As Atkinson's world markets expanded, assembly plants were established in Australia, South Africa and New Zealand where vehicles were tailored to local operators' requirements. In 1968 it tried to increase its sliare of the European market by fitting Krupp steel tilt cabs when Krupp of Essen in Germany phased out truck production. Atkinson Vehicles (Europe) was set up in Antwerp, Belgium, but the venture was short-lived. In the late 1960s models were given type names and the taller Mk.2 fibreglass cab was introduced. The main tractor units were the 4x2 Borderer and 6x2 rear-steer Leader. The most popular rigid was the Defender eight-wheeler, although some six-wheeled Searchers and four-wheeled Raiders were also built. The highly successful Atkinson company, renamed Atkinson Vehicles Ltd from 1954, was the subject of a takeover by Seddon Diesel Vehicles Ltd ofOldham in 1970 and Seddon-Atkinson Vehicles was bom. The last Atkinson-badged trucks were built just five years later. Seddon-Atkinson's independence was short lived - the company was taken over by International Harvester of North America in 1974. The last hint of Atkinson's identity is the presence of their "circle A" badge on current Seddon Atkinson trucks.

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