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All the North Western Alphas had rear entrance bodies, and many of the Lancashire United examples had centre-entrance standee bodies, as did four of those for SHMD Board.
The last three for SHMD had front entrance standee bodies, and the one-off double decker had centre entrance.
However the BET Group were having none of it and stepped in to force its companies to stick to its preferred choice of Leyland Tiger Cub or AEC Reliance.
Atkinson continued with the Alpha though, which was initially offered as a mediumweight model, fitted with a choice of Gardner 4, 5 or 6HLW engines, and either an Atkinson 5-speed overdrive constant-mesh or David Brown 5-speed direct top synchromesh gearbox.
Apart from orders for 40 for LUT, and 20 for Venture of Consett, the rest were mostly supplied as coaches in small or single numbers.
Production diminished throughout the 1950’s, the model’s swansong occurring in 1963 when Sunderland Corporation surprised everyone by taking three updated 33ft. T rally at Seaburn, which is to the north of Sunderland, so no doubt the bus would have been used on services in the area at some time during its working life.
The Leyland shareholding in the Atkinson company proved to be the decisive factor in the tragic sale of Atkinson to Seddon in 1970. It is surprising that a large proportion of the Atkinson buses had unusual bodies.
Just think, if the BET Group management had not been so awkward, North Western might have bought a couple of hundred Atkinson Alphas instead of Royal Tigers, Tiger Cubs and Reliances of the FDB, KDB and LDB series. You would expect Atkinsons with their quality and traditional reputation and low volumes to be an ideal manufacturer for the bus industry. Eventually, they all eat each other, aided by too much direction- are rear engines or double deckers the answer to everything- so we now have over-large, wallowing buses with all the control subtlety of a dodgem. I tend to agree with Don’s comment about the lorry chassis.
The layout is probably the most odd of all the Atkinson bus production as, to an extent, all the other body layouts followed traditional or, at least, accepted formats yet a long wheelbase with a double width door behind the front axle needs some explanation!
At the 1953 Scottish Show they displayed an Alpha fitted with Self-Changing Gears semi-automatic gearbox – quoted as being the first to be fitted to a PSV chassis (Leyland – owner of SCG – had a minority shareholding in Atkinson at the time).
At the same time a lightweight version was offered.