It’s almost like a slightly longer and more substantial alternative to the Bristol SC.I’m told however that their appeal stopped with their appearance, and that they were rather unrefined in reality.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.of Walton-le-Dale to produce an equivalent to the underfloor-engined Bristol LS model which they would no doubt have otherwise purchased.The new model was christened the Alpha, and the first ones were duly delivered to NWRCC in 1951.
At the same time a lightweight version was offered.Even the front entrance Roe bodied Alphas for LUT had an unusual (but attractive) appearance, and the driver had an offside cab door.Surely the two Sunderland Atkinsons bought in the fifties were not Alphas, but modified lorry chassis.When, in the following year, Rolls Royce decided to pull out of making diesel engines, Paul Gardner suggested that the Patricroft firm should buy the Shrewsbury factory, equipped as it was with modern manufacturing plant.Hugh Gardner responded by threatening to resign, and the project was dropped. So many livelihoods affected, often those of talented people by such high-handed and misguided behaviour.
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.