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Atkinson

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Atkinson and Co and Atkinson Lorries Ltd of Frenchwood Works, Preston produced commercial vehicles from 1916 to 1970.

General

Atkinson & Co. was founded in the Frenchwood district of Preston, the cotton town and administrative capital of Lancashire, by two of five brothers, Edward Atkinson (1880-1932) and Henry Birch Atkinson (1882–1921) with assistance from their brother-in-law George Hunt (1870–1950).

1907 The real and effective beginning of the company was in 1907, when the partners decided to capitalise on the need for local engineers to make temporary or permanent repairs to the increasing number of ‘pullcars’ and private motor vehicles on the road.

Edward Atkinson became an expert in the repair and servicing of steam vehicles and was an agent for Alley and MacLellan the forerunner of Sentinel.

By 1912, the organisation had moved to premises in Kendal Street and the number of employees had grown to twenty. In the same year a second, smaller repair centre was opened in Freemason’s Row, Liverpool, to cater for the enormous volume of steam traffic using the docks. Very soon the company made something of a name for itself in the north of England as quality repairers, and the growing number of operators brought new business from far and wide.

1913-1917 For a list of the models and prices of Steam Motor Wagons, Tractors and Ploughs etc. see the 1917 Red Book

1914 Demand for internal road transport grew considerably. Some method of local delivery and collection was needed to supplement the services of the railway companies, and with most of the existing steam wagon manufacturers turning their resources over to munitions production, demand increased further. The Atkinsons, shrewd observers at any time, decided to experiment by making a wagon of their own design

1916 The first Atkinson six-tonne four-wheel steam wagon was produced in Kendal Street and became an instant success. The market enjoyed a short boom period following the Armistice and the Atkinsons, realising the potential, purchased a five-acre site of land near their homes in Frenchwood, on which they intended to erect a new and enlarged factory, solely designed for the production of steam wagons. Together with the field they also bought the 17th century Frenchwood House, with the intention of using it partly as their offices and partly as their personal quarters.

By 1918 the Atkinsons had built up a competent team of engineers and salesmen as well as an enthusiastic and loyal labour force, and were producing wagons competitive in both price and performance.

1921 Henry Atkinson died suddenly and the company fell into the hands of his brother Edward. At this time, new ideas and designs were constantly being tried out while production rose to a peak of some three wagons per week, and the total labour force rose to well over a hundred and fifty. Edward Atkinson had a glorified view of steam and did not acknowledge the warnings when sales began to slow down in the mid-1920s.

1926 Leyland Motors sold the remnants of their steam vehicles business to Atkinson

1929 Mann's Patent Steam Cart and Wagon Co sold the remnants of their steam vehicles business to Atkinson

There seems to have been various family rivalries at the time and the firm was undoubtedly in difficulties when Edward Atkinson decided to seek help from mine engineers and Pagefield lorry makers, Walker Brothers of Wigan. Under a new arrangement, Walkers manufactured Uniflow engines for Atkinsons, but by this time very few orders were forthcoming.

1929 Edward Atkinson had cancer and was unable to pay any dividends on the preference shares and finally abandoned wagon production in 1929 after a grand total of about 545 Atkinsons had been built. The final years were made possible by a cancellation fee from Manchester Co-op Society, which had ordered a hundred wagons.

The Frenchwood and Freemason’s Row factories closed with the end of the steamers, though the Kendal Street factory remained for repairing and servicing existing wagons.

1931 The company was in the hands of the receivers and then sold to J. Jenkins, H. Johnson and J. Lytheer

1932 Edward Atkinson died

1933 The firm was acquired by London garage owner William Gilbert Allen, whose father had started Nightingale Garage and Engineering Co. Allen became chairman of Atkinson Lorries (1933) Ltd and H. B. Fielding managing director. Allen had effectively run the firm since 1931, and remained in charge until 1949.

1933 Company re-formed as Atkinson Lorries Ltd

1935 Relocated to Marsh Lane, Preston

1947 Moved to premises at Winery Lane, Walton le Dale

1948 Share issue. Directors are W. G. Allen, Chairman and MD, Reginald Marchant Richardson and Harvey Bruce Holding [1]

1954 Renamed as Atkinson Vehicles Ltd

1959 Subsidiary companies were Nightingale Engineering Co., Ltd.; Coach Bodies, Ltd.; Transport Vehicles (Atkinson) South Africa, Ltd.; Reg. Lucas and Frank Payne Motors.

1960 Advert for Atkinson dumpers. (of Winery Lane, Walton-le-Dale, nr Preston)

1961 Employees 320 persons. Capital of £10,000. Of Winery Lane, Walton-le-Dale, Preston. A subsidiary of Atkinson Lorries (Holdings) Ltd. [2]

1970 Atkinson merged with Seddon of Oldham

1974 Vehicles marked as Seddon-Atkinson after Seddon was acquired by International Harvester of America.

Buses

See Atkinson: Buses

Lorries

See Atkinson: Lorries


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Times, Wednesday, Dec 08, 1948
  2. 1961 Guide to Key British Enterprises: Motor, Motor-Cycle and Commercial Vehicle Manufacturers
  • British Lorries 1900-1992 by S. W. Stevens-Stratten. Pub. Ian Allen Publishing
  • Ian Allan - British Buses Since 1900 - Aldridge and Morris
  • Mining Year Book 1960. Published by Walter E. Skinner. Advert p33
  • [1] Wikipedia