Seddon Atkinson

Seddon Atkinson

Seddon Atkinson was a manufacturer of Large Goods Vehicles based in Oldham, Greater Manchester, England. It is now wholly owned by IVECO who have used the brand latterly for certain specialised vehicles in the United Kingdom.

Seddon Atkinson Vehicles Limited was formed after Atkinson Vehicles Ltd was acquired by Seddon Diesel Vehicles Ltd in 1970. It was subsequently bought in 1974 by American International Harvester, later by Spanish Enasa, and it is now owned by Italian IVECO who bought Enasa in 1990. The model ranges produced are "EuroMover", "Pacer" and "Strato", aimed at refuse collection, recycling and construction operators. The range is sold across the UK by a network of 13 distributors, comprising a mix of dedicated Seddon Atkinson dealers together with dealers who also sell IVECO models.

Recent Seddon Atkinson vehicles are readily identifiable from other IVECO products because of the company's former Atkinson logo, a large A within a circle, usually in chrome (or chrome-effect) on the radiator grille. The circular Atkinson logo dated from 1937, having largely replaced the 'Knight Of The Road' badge of earlier Atkinsons.


Originally a firm of steam-wagon repairers and manufacturers, founded in 1907 in Preston, Lancashire, England, Atkinson & Co. evolved into Seddon Atkinson Vehicles Ltd through a succession of mergers.

Early years

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). 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. 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.


With the outbreak of war in 1914, demand for internal road transport grew considerably, the nation finding itself desperately throttled by the inadequacy of the railways to offer a complete transport network. 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, and in 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. Henry Atkinson died suddenly in 1921 and consequently 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.

Decline of steam

Edward Atkinson had a glorified view of steam and did not acknowledge the warnings when sales began to slow down in the mid-1920’s. Leyland Motors Ltd sold their steam remnants to Atkinson in 1926, followed by Mann in 1929. 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. 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. Edward Atkinson died in 1932 and a year later the firm he co-founded was acquired by London garage owner W. G. Allen, whose father had started Nightingale Garage. Allen was chairman of Atkinson Lorries (1933) Ltd and H. B. Fielding was managing director. Allen had effectively run the firm since 1931, and remained in charge until his death in 1949.


Atkinson later merged with Seddons of Oldham in 1970, and production has continued in Oldham under the brand name of Seddon Atkinson Vehicles Ltd despite its recent acquisition by Italian truck firm Iveco. The last "true" Atkinson, a Defender 8-wheel rigid bearing chassis number FC29941, was built at Atkinson's Walton-le-Dale works in 1975.

Alongside Seddon's facility at Oldham, the Atkinson works assembled the Seddon Atkinson 400 Series and also the first batch of the new 401 model, before closing at the end of 1981.

Iveco announced its decision to manufacture Seddon Atkinsons in Spain in 2005, and shortly afterwards the brand name was incorporated into the mainstream Iveco catalogue.


External links

* [ Official Seddon Atkinson section of IVECO website]
* [ Pictures of Seddon Arkinson trucks, with a capsule history]
* [ Made in Preston]
* [ Big Al's Truck Stop]

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