Atkinson Mark I

Prior to 1965 W & J Riding were operating at 24 tons gross vehicle weight.


The unladen weight of the L.A.D. Leyland's was to great and the cab was prone to severe corrosion.


Riding's had the first 600 engined tilt cab Leyland Beaver in 1965 but they could never obtain them in sufficient quantity to fulfill their requirements.


So W & J Riding decided to choose Atkinson to take over as the major supplier, rugged chassis, legendary Gardner engines, David Brown gearboxes, Kirkstall axles and a cab that could be rebuilt over a weekend.


Often described as a gaffer's motor, which was exactly right, they were built locally just up the road at Walton-le-Dale near Preston. 


This was quite handy as Tom Riding would often nip down to the factory to see how things were going with the numerous vehicles they had on order.



1963 was a defining year as the very first Atkinson built 4x2 tractor unit enters service with W & J Riding.


Atkinson Silver Knight Mk I 4x2 tractor unit Reg No 6520 TF Fleet No 29 was powered by a Gardner 6LX 150 engine.


Baring chassis No FC 9065 it was purchased direct from Atkinson Vehicles Ltd on the 25th of April 1963 at a cost of £2,926 14s and was registered for road use on the 1st of May 1963.


Seen here when brand new with a load of empty plas bins destined for the ICI Wilton works the late Tom Riding recalled.....


 "This was the very first Atkinson tractor unit in our fleet and i call the photograph 'A step into the unknown' but we needn't have worried as the rest, as we all know, is history".


After 10 years service in the Riding fleet 6520 TF was sold on to a Mr R Jeffries of Otley on the 2nd of March 1973 for the sum of £900.


A close up shot of W & J Riding's first Atkinson Silver Knight Mk I 4x2 tractor unit Reg No 6520 TF Fleet No 29 bought new by Riding's on the 25th of April 1963.


 It is shown in the 'interim' livery which sported quasi-roundels on the doors which gave way to the grey over Oxford Blue sometime later.


 Until 1967, when the Gardner 6LXB 180 was launched, all Riding's Silver Knights were supplied with 6LX 150's and were all subsequently up rated to 180 bhp power plants.


Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor unit Reg No ATB 150A Fleet No 15 (Chassis No FC 9100) was purchased new by Riding's on the 6th of September 1963 at a cost of £2,935 19s 5d and registered on the 1st of October 1963.

The late Tom Riding recalled below......

 "This was the second Atki Mk I 4x2 tractor to join our fleet and had the classic drive-line of the day, a magnificent Gardner 150 6LX engine in line with a David Brown 6 speed box and Kirkstall BDR rear axle.

When the weights were lifted to 32 tons gross we up-rated the engine to the 180 spec, as we did with all our 150 Gardner's.

 The late Tommy Lambert drove ATB 150A from new which is pictured above hooked up to a 27 foot Boden tandem axle trailer with a high load roped and sheeted to a high standard.

ATB 150A was eventually sold in October 1973 to Harold Swanson just down the road in Longridge for £909 plus vat.

 Harold had been a driver for us but decided to strike out on his own and I feel sure that this was his first venture into artics".


Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor unit Reg No ETC 920B Fleet No 12 (Chassis No FC 10536) was originally powered by a Gardner 150 engine in line with a David Brown 6 speed gearbox.


 Purchased new by Riding's on the 9th of April 1964 it cost the princely sum of £2,997 5s and was registered a week later on the 17th of April 1964.


 The late Tom Riding recalled below......


"This was the third Atkinson Mk I 4x2 tractor unit that we bought so I decided to utilise it on a hard job and put it on the Darlington change over which resulted in the vehicle being loaded at 32 tons gross at all times.


 It ran perfectly for 394000 miles at which time it burnt a tip off an injector.


By this time as the engine was worn we removed it from the chassis and rebuilt it as a Gardner 6LXB 180.


Lawrence Lambert was its day driver and Ron Rich, who later formed his own tanker company, was its night man.


 After being in our fleet for over nine years ETC 920B was eventually sold on to B. McGowan of Preston on the 24th of August 1973 for £875 plus vat."


Note the brand new Crane Fruehauf powder tank in the background.


 Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor unit Reg MTD 160C Fleet No 6 was powered by a Gardner 6LX 150 engine in line with a 6 speed David Brown box and Kirkstall axle.

Purchased new from Atkinson Vehicles Ltd on the 24th of March 1965 at a cost £3,303 33d it was registered on the 1st of April 1965.

This was the fourth brand new Atkinson to enter service with Riding's and had a 9'6'' wheelbase and the first one to have a twin headlight cab.

Pictured above, while parked on the fuel pumps at Longridge, it is loaded with 20 tons of Corvic from ICI Hillhouse for delivery to AEI at Birtley.

Out based at Accrington it was double shifted on the North East / Liverpool service for a few years and was driven from new by long time serving driver the late Albert Brown, aka 'Big Albert', and the late Kenneth Wade.

After nine years service it was finally sold on to Scott's Transport of Preston for £1500 plus vat in July 1974.

Photograph courtesy of John Atkinson.


Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor unit Reg No UTC 720D Fleet No 22 was registered new on the 11th of March 1966 after being purchased the previous month direct from Atkinson on the 14th of February at a cost of £3362 10s.


Pictured at the entrance to Longridge depot this particular tractor unit was the first one of Riding's Atkinson's to be fitted with a David Brown splitter gearbox to help the under-powered Gardner 150 engine cope a bit better. 


After eight years service UTC 720D was sold on to a Mr J.R. Bignall of Haughton Green Darlington for the sum of £1500 plus vat.


Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor unit Reg No VTF 270D Fleet No 3, powered by a Gardner 150 engine, was purchased brand new direct from the Atkinson factory on the 7th of April 1966 at a cost of £3,388 9s 8d and was registered for road use on the 22nd of April 1966.


After eight years service VTF 270D was sold on to a Mr P. Collins of 6 Church Lane Wrightington near Wigan on the 14th of August 1974 for the sum of £1500 + vat. 


Another shot Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor unit Reg No VTF 270D Fleet No 3 this time seen coming in to roost for an overnight stay at Thirsk in North Yorkshire.


 It is hauling a 40 foot tandem axle trailer with a full 20 ton load of Plas Bins on board from the ICI plant at Wilton on Teesside destined for Wythenshawe near Manchester.


Once unloaded at Manchester it would then collect a full load of empty bins back for Wilton. 


The late Tom Riding is pictured here at the wheel of Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor unit Reg No WTF 190D Fleet No 2 as it happily plods up the A6 towards Shap from Hucks Brow during a fuel and performance exercise.


 Shortly before the Gardner 6LXB 180 became available Atkinson did a comparison with WTF 190D, which was powered by a Gardner 150, to see how they compared in performance and fuel consumption.


Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor unit Reg No WTF 190D Fleet No 2 (Chassis No FC 11893) was purchased new by Riding's on the 25th of May 1966 at a cost of £3,388 9s 8d and was registered a week later on the 1st of June 1966. 

Purchased as a basic chassis cab from Atkinson it was powered by the renowned Gardner 150 6LX engine in line with a David Brown 10 speed splitter gearbox.

 Driven from new by Fred Hesmondalgh, a lifetime Riding's driver, it spent its entire life on general haulage.

After eight years service in the Riding fleet WTF 190D was eventually sold on to H H Swanson of Longridge for £1,500 plus vat on the 6th of May 1974.


Another shot taken during the fuel and performance exorcise, the late Tom Riding recalled below......


 "Just before the Gardner 6LXB 180 became available Atkinson did a comparison with one of our Gardner 150's fitted with a splitter gearbox to see how they compared in performance and fuel consumption.


 We went up to Carlisle on the old A6 and came back down the motorway i forget the results but it was a good day out.


The gentleman on the left is Mike Listbrain from the Atkinson publicity department while on the right is Denton Winter Atkinson's development engineer (ex Leyland)".


Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor unit Reg No BTE 180E Fleet No 54 was fitted with the first Gardner 6LXB 180 engine to come off the Atkinson production line at Walton-le-Dale in January 1967.


 Costing £3,420 and baring chassis No FC 14192 it was first registered for road use on the 15th of February 1967.


This particular vehicle was also fitted with, what was at the time, the new wide Kirkstall S cam brakes on the front and rear and was also the first Atkinson Mk I to have the lock actuater brakes.


Another shot of Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor unit Reg No BTE 180E Fleet No 54 which was fitted with the first Gardner 6LXB 180 engine to come off the Atkinson production line at Walton-le-Dale in January 1967.


Pictured ready for the road in the depot at Longridge it was driven from new by Joe Masterson Snr.


Painted in Riding's new livery of the time it was used on night trunk on the Darlington change over.


Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor unit Reg No CTB 260E Fleet No 52 was purchased direct from the nearby Atkinson factory at Walton le Dale on the 18th of March 1967 at a cost of £3,461.


Baring chassis No FC 14193 it was registered for road use on the 1st of April 1967 and was the second Atkinson powered by a Gardner 6LXB engine to enter service with the fleet in 1967. 


After eight years service it was sold on in March 1975 to a Mr Rooke of Crossens Southport for £1,200 plus vat.   


Another shot of Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor unit Reg No CTB 260E Fleet No 52 which was the second Gardner 6LXB 180 powered Atkinson to enter service with the fleet.


 Driven from new by Louis Gornall it is seen here outside ICI Fibres head office at Harrogate.


 The photograph was a publicity shot, for what was at the time, the new ICI terylene tarpaulins which were light and durable.


 It also shows clearly one of Riding's Crane Fruehauf built 33 foot trailers of which Riding's had dozens.


Driver Arthur Luke takes time out for a photograph in May 1967 while stood next to brand new Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor unit Reg No CTJ 390E Fleet No 60.


 Powered by a Gardner 6LXB 180 engine and baring chassis No FC 14194 it was purchased new direct from Atkinson on the 26th of April 1967 at a cost of £3,457 plus vat.


 Registered for road use on the 1st of May 1967 it is seen here in the yard at Longridge while coupled to a Municipal 35 foot tandem axle coil carrier.


After what seems to have been a rather short life of only four years with Riding's CTJ 390E was sold on to R Wells of Great Ecclestone in March 1971 for £1,200 plus vat.


Photograph courtesy of the late Jack Draper.


A close up shot of Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor unit Reg No CTJ 390E Fleet No 60.


 Seen here when brand new in the depot at Longridge in May 1967.


Photograph courtesy of the late Jack Draper.


Another shot of Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor unit Reg No CTJ 390E Fleet No 60 pictured in the depot at Longridge.


Registered new by Riding's on the 1st of May 1967 at a cost of £3,457 plus vat it had a rather short life with Riding's and was sold on after only four years to R Wells of Great Ecclestone in March 1971 for £1,200 plus vat.


 Photograph courtesy of the late Roger Kenney.


Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor unit Reg No DTC 740E Fleet No 33 was powered by a Gardner 6LXB 180 engine and entered service with the fleet on the 15th of June 1967 at a cost of £3,475.


Driven from new by Fred Bretherton it is pictured here parked near Knaresborough while coupled up to a Crane- Fruehauf four in line trailer.


Riding's operated about 25 of these trailers on this service enabling the company to carry 16 tons legally.


The loaded tote bins are from Wilton and are on route to Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland.


On the return leg of the journey the empty bins were double decked thus allowing every alternate trailer to bring back finished Terylene for delivery in the North West and the Midlands which explains the heap of tarpaulins on the top of the loaded bins.


Photograph courtesy of Fred Bretherton


Another shot of  Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor unit Reg No DTC 740E Fleet No 33.


Powered by a Gardner 6LXB 180 engine it is pictured here coupled to a 33 foot tandem axle trailer with a 20 foot container on board.


Notice that there were no twist locks fitted on the trailers in those days with containers secured to the trailer by the means of steel chains.


Four of a kind at Longridge!


 This line up of Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor units shows from left to right, Reg No's CTB 260E and BTE 180E both powered by Gardner 180 engines and BTB 420E and MTD 160C which were both powered by Gardner 150 engines.


Longridge Line Up!


 Another shot showing four Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor units seen here coupled up to 40 foot tandem axle trailers.


 From left to right Reg No CTB 260E and Reg No BTE 180E were both powered by Gardner 180 engines while Reg No BTB 420E and Reg No MTD 160C were both powered by Gardner 150 engines.


Seen here coupled to one of Riding's bog standard 40 foot flats is Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor unit Reg No FTF 410F Fleet No 1 'Majestic' which was driven from new for a period of fourteen years by long time serving Riding's driver Albert Brown aka 'Big Albert'.


The late Tom Riding recalled....


 "Albert lived in Accrington and was almost invariably on the North East runs which were relative short mileages.


He was offered several new vehicles over the years but always insisted that he stayed on this one.


It only did about 800.000 miles in its whole life and I wouldn't be surprised if it's Gardner 180 engine isn't still powering a junk in Hong Kong harbour to this day".


A close up shot of Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor unit Reg No FTF 410F Fleet No 1 'Majestic' which entered service with Riding's on the 1st of October 1967 after being purchased brand new from Atkinson at a cost of £3,546 16s.


 Driven from new for a period of fourteen years by long time serving Riding's driver Albert Brown aka 'Big Albert' it is pictured here parked up in the depot at Longridge.


Photograph courtesy of Geoff Milne.


Another shot of Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor unit Reg FTF 410F seen here parked up in Accrington where it was out based when driven by the late Albert Brown aka 'Big Albert'.


Big Albert drove for Riding's for 28 years but in later years suffered a stroke while driving 401 Series Seddon Atkinson Reg No A360 KFR over Blubberhouse resulting in it running off the road.


Unfortunately Albert never recovered enough to return to work and died shortly after.



Another shot of Gardner 180 engined Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor unit Reg No FTF 410F Fleet No 1 'Majestic' which was driven from new for a staggering 14 years by driver Albert Brown aka 'Big Albert'.


 It is seen here coupled up to an old ex Pickford 'CRANE' built low loader with knock out rear axles.


 Owned by Walter Carefoot, Jim Riding's brother-in-law, it was only ever used to move Walters plant equipment whose premises were located just next door to Riding's depot in Longridge.


Driver Dick Walton takes time out for a photograph alongside Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor unit Reg No HTE 940F Fleet No 63 which was powered by a Gardner 180 engine.


Purchased new from Atkinson Vehicles Ltd on the 23rd of January 1968, at a cost of £3,918, it was registered for road use a week later on the 1st of February 1968.


 It is pictured above having just discharged 20 tons of Corvic from it's tanker at Osma Plastics at Ashford in Kent which had been loaded at the ICI Ltd Hillhouse Works at Thornton in Lancashire.


After seven years service with Riding's HTE 940F was sold on in June 1975 to a local haulier by the name of Mr Jack Gardner from Chipping Lancashire for £1,300 plus vat who put it to work hauling for Tilcon.


Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4X2 tractor unit Reg No ETF 860F Fleet No 34 was purchased new direct from the Atkinson factory on the 6th of July 1967 at a cost of £3,597 10s 6d. 


Registered for road use on the 1st of August 1967 it was powered by a Gardner 180 and is pictured above on the Atkinson vehicles stand at the 1967 Royal Lancashire Show while coupled up to a Crane Fruehauf 'Bulkleader' tank trailer.


 On entering service with the fleet it was driven by Ted Woods whose wife Dorothy took the colour photograph below. v



The first powder tanker to enter service with the company is pictured here being hauled by Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor unit Reg No ETF 860F Fleet No 34.


 The brand new Crane-Fruehauf 1450 cubic foot non tipping powder tank was on demo for a couple of months, as at that time, Crane-Fruehauf were in the process of building four new ones for Riding's.


Ted Woods was the driver of ETF 86OF at the time and the photograph was taken outside his house by his wife Dorothy.


Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4X2 tractor unit Reg No ETF 860F Fleet No 34 is pictured here in 1967 at the premises of Drum Engineering Bradford where a Wellworthy WS 9 Blower, complete with hydraulic drive, had been fitted to a brand new Crane-Fruehauf 1450 cubic foot non tipping tandem axle powder tanker.


Tom Riding took the photo alongside a Bulwark Seddon Diesel with a tipping tank to show the complete different approaches to the job at that time.


Atkinson Mk 1 Silver Knight 'Rear Steer 6x2 tractor unit Reg No KTF 280F Fleet No 24 (Chassis No 16053) was one of a pair purchased new from Atkinson Vehicles Ltd on the 18th of March 1968 at a cost of £4,564 each, the other being LTD 780F Fleet No 25 (Chassis No FC 16054),  both of which were powered by Gardner 180 6LXB engines

Pictured here in early 1969, with long time serving driver Anthony Freeman, it is pictured parked on the M6 Charnock Richard service area in Lancashire loaded with 22 tons of copper sulfate loaded at Widnes and destined for ICI at Wilton.

After a couple of years both of Riding's Rear Steer 6x2 tractor units were later cut down into 4x2 tractors.

The reason being when the legislation came in to permit 32 tons much more easily on 4 axles, even with a 30/33' foot trailer, the 32 ton 6x2 tractor unit became obsolete literally overnight with many converted into a 4x2.

After being cut down in 1970 KTF 280F remained in the fleet for a further five years as a 4x2 tractor unit it was sold on to a Mr W.B. Barnes of St Helens on the 7th of April 1975 for the sum of £1,200.


Driven from new by Tom Lambert Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor unit Reg No LTF 100F Fleet No 35 was powered by a Gardner 180.


Purchased brand new by Riding's from the local Atkinson factory on the 12th of June 1968, at a cost of £3,787 19s 10d, it remained in service for eight years until May 1976 when it was sold on J&J Rimmer of Churchtown Southport for the sum of £1,300 plus vat.   


In the picture above it is coupled to a 33 foot trailer with a de-mountable tanker on board.


Back in the day there were no twist locks on trailers so the tank was secured to the trailer with just ropes.


In 1968 between the Christmas and New Year period Riding's took five of their new powder tankers down to the De Tabley Hotel by the river in Ribchester for a photo shoot.


Tom Riding calls this picture the 'A Team'.


From left to right are drivers Ted Woods, Jack Swanson, Fred Bretherton, Bill Coolican and Dick Walton.


Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4X2 tractor unit Reg No NTB 600G Fleet No 42, was powered by Gardner 180 6LXB engine.


Purchased on the 27th of August 1968 for £3,787 direct from Atkinson Vehicles Ltd it was registered on the 11th of September 1968.

Unfortunately two years later on the 30th of October 1970 it was involved in a serious accident on the A171 at Ormesby Bank resulting in extensive damage to the offside of the cab and steering mechanism. >


 More details can be found in Accidents Happen.


After being repaired in the workshops at Longridge NTB 600G went on to serve Riding's for another eight years until it was eventually sold on to T R Taylor of Melling near Liverpool for £1,600 plus vat on the 4th of October 1976.


Photograph courtesy of Geoff Milne.


Baring chassis No FC 16059 Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor unit Reg No NTD 820G Fleet No 65 'Famous' was a brand new addition to the fleet on the 3rd of October 1968 at a cost of £3,838 19s 10d.


 Powered by a Gardner 180 engine it is seen here coupled to a tandem axle powder tanker which is is discharging it's load at Yorkshire Imperial plastics at Leeds in 1968.


This was the first delivery on behalf of ICI Plastics of Hillhouse and the suits at the rear of the tank are discussing the ins and outs of the brand new non tipping powder tanker.


Purchased new on the 17th of September 1968 at a cost of £3,838 19d 10s, and registered for road use two weeks later on the 3rd of October, Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor unit Reg No NTD 820G Fleet No 65 'Famous' was powered by a Gardner 180.


This nice close up colour shot shows it parked in the line up at Longridge depot while coupled to a loaded 40 foot flat trailer ready for the off.


Photograph courtesy of Geoff Milne.


Another shot of Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor unit Reg No NTD 820G Fleet No 65 'Famous', this time seen in a lay-by at Rugby just before the start of the M1.


 This photograph was taken by driver Fred Bretherton in the days before the M6 and MI had been connected.


 Having loaded 20 tons of Corvic at ICI Ltd Hillhouse works the journey to Osma Plastics at Ashford or Marley at Lenham was 320 miles which involved going straight through the centre of London in those days.


This particular lay-by was approximately half way and provided a well earned resting place as the old 180 Gardner engine never failed so there was never a chance of getting a rest if it broke down.


Photograph courtesy of Fred Bretherton.


Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor unit Reg No MTC 690G Fleet No 46 is pictured here when brand new parked in the depot at Longridge.


 Registered new on the 1st of August 1968 it had been purchased by Riding's the previous month on the 12th of July 1968 at a cost of £3787 19s 10d and was driven on a regular basis by Gordon Sharples.


After eight years service it was sold on to Mr J Birch of Rainhill Motors Warrington Road Rainhill Merseyside on the 28th of June 1976 for the sum of £1912.50.


Photograph courtesy of the late Jack Draper.


Another shot showing brand new Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor unit Reg No MTC 690G Fleet No 46 while parked outside the old depot buildings on Whittingham Road in Longridge now the site of the local Aldi supermarket car park.


 It is pictured coupled to a 33 foot flat trailer loaded with a de-mountable tank.


Back in the day there were no twist locks on trailers so the tank was secured to the trailer with just ropes.  



Another shot, this time in black and white, showing Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor unit Reg No MTC 690G Fleet No 46 coupled to a 33 foot trailer loaded with a de-mountable tank.


Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor unit Reg No MTC 700G Fleet No 56 was powered by a Gardner 180 and cost £3,943 direct from Atkinson on the 24th of July 1968.

Baring Chassis No FC 16055 Atkinson only built two like this in 1968 i.e. they were Mark 1 chassis but had the first pre-production Mark 11 cabs.

The first one was shown at Kelvin hall motor show in the livery of Russell of Bathgate and this one was the only other one built.

The only way it shows to be different is the water filler cap on the radiator.

At this early stage they didn't have the water header tank located behind the cab.


Atkinson Mk I Silver Knight 4x2 tractor unit Reg No  PTB 840G Fleet No 66  'Mighty' (Chassis No FC 17376) was based at Teesside and was one of the last Mk I' tractor units bought by Riding's before the Mk II's replaced them later that year.


Purchased direct from Atkinson Vehicles Ltd on the 25th of January 1969, costing £4,123, it was registered a week later on the 1st of February 1969. 


Pictured above on the M6 in Lancashire it is hauling a Crane Fruehauf tanker loaded with 'Corvic' a granulated PVC resin produced by ICI from their vast Wilton site.


After five years in the Riding fleet PTB 840G was sold on to a Mr A Johnson of Longton near Preston on the 28th of May 1976 for the sum of £1,500 plus vat. 



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