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The Leyland Atlantean (Paperback)

P&S History > British History P&S History > By Century > 20th Century Transport > Buses

By Gavin Booth
Imprint: Key Publishing
Series: Britain's Buses
Pages: 112
Illustrations: Over 170
ISBN: 9781913870287
Published: 1st July 2022



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The Leyland Atlantean revolutionised the layout of double-deck buses in Britain with its rear-mounted engine, setting a standard that has dominated designs for the past 60 years. Appearing in the late 1950s, when the bus market was dominated by the rear-entrance/front-engined double-deck design that had its roots in the 1920s, the Atlantean represented as significant a change in the bus industry as diesel replacing steam on Britain’s railways. Out with the old and in with the new. However, it was not plain sailing; there were the inevitable teething problems and the design underwent considerable change before it – and the competitors it inspired such as the Daimler Fleetline and Bristol VRT – could come to dominate the market.

By the end of the 1960s, economics dictated that the traditional front-engined double-decker had had its day. In the Atlantean and its competitors, the British bus and coach industry had vehicles capable of taking on and meeting the challenges, both at home and abroad, that the contemporary world presented. The Atlantean was probably the last British-designed and -built bus to achieve massive sales worldwide, with the list of operators both at home and abroad being legion.

In this fully illustrated book, Gavin Booth looks back at the development of the Leyland Atlantean from its origins in the 1950s and examines its importance over the past half-century.

Although the Atlantean has largely disappeared from public service, its influence remains and, through the handful that remain in service and those that survive in preservation and through the pages of this book, it is possible to pay tribute to one of the most significant bus designs of the second half of the 20th century.

The Leyland Atlantean was by far my favourite bus as a child, with its distinctive rear end shape reminding me of a pantomime dame wearing an exaggerated bustle!

First introduced in the late 1950s, the Atlantean proved to be a landmark design, continuing in production into the 1980s. Examples were still in use in the early 2000s and the Atlanteans were also an export success.

Countless body styles evolved over the years and this handy paperback book offers over 100 pages of colour images of the buses at work throughout the lifetime of the Atlantean. Virtually all areas of the UK feature, as well as far-flung locations such as Manila and Ecuador.

This is a reprint of Gavin Booth’s larger, hardback book published originally in 2015 by Crécy, and is essential for any bus fans or those planning on customising their model Atlanteans.

Model Rail Magazine

For many enthusiasts, the HST is practically synonymous with the network of Inter-City trains which radiated from London’s Paddington station for almost 40 years. Although they no longer visit Paddington following replacement by Hitachi bi-mode traction, HSTs can still be seen in shorter formations on the Cardiff – Penzance corridor where they provide comfortable journeys on long-distance stopping services, and now have the operational benefit of power-operated doors.

In this 96 page paperback, Mark V Pipe has brought together around 200 colour images of these popular trains, predominantly captured in the last 30 years. The liveries worn by the sets are mainly GW green, gold and ivory, dark blue and gold, all-over blue with ‘dynamic lines’, and the current dark green, but a handful of views show the original BR Inter-City colours and ‘Swallow’ liveries, and several ‘one-off’ schemes worn by individual power cars. Needless to say, several views show a mixture of these on the same train! Perhaps surprisingly, no view is included of a CrossCountry HST at work in the area, despite these being regular visitors for several years.

Geographical coverage includes most of the WR, focussing mainly on the West Country, but with several other locations such as Hereford, Oxford and South Wales. There are striking views looking over Bath Spa station and of heavy swell on the sea wall at Dawlish, and a rare shot of two HSTs together at Pinhoe on the Exeter to Salisbury route.

This is an attractive book benefitting from high quality photography mostly in bright sunlight and is recommended.

West Somerset Railway Association

This book by an acknowledged author covers Leyland’s revolutionary rear-engined bus, from the 1950s prototypes to the last ones delivered in the early 1980s, including those sold abroad. There are plenty of interesting pictures to help tell the story of the model’s evolution.

Vintage Road Scene

"Gavin Booth is well known for his authorship of PSV-related books, writing over several decades, and this work is up to his usual standard. As with other books in this series it is well illustrated with photographs, but in this case there is also enough text to provide a substantial, and well written, history of the vehicle...There are 13 chapters covering the history, in-service, technical developments, testing, etc, all informative and readable. One chapter even covers the Atlantean in Adverts with reproductions of marketing done by Leyland in the trade press. The dimensions of the book mean that a magnifying glass might be needed to read the text of these, but the reproduction and printing are of a sufficiently high standard to make this possible.
The photographs show the bus where it worked around Britain and in the places where it was found abroad. Local Wessex members will be pleased with the photos of Bournemouth, Southampton and King Alfred. The Atlantean was an important part of the PSV industry’s history, and this book competently charts the history of the vehicle itself."

Andy Wood

About Gavin Booth

Gavin Booth has written or edited more than 80 books since 1969. He has contributed extensively to the enthusiast and trade press, and created and has edited the magazine Classic Bus for 13 years. He has worked in and around the bus industry for more than 50 years, latterly as Chair of the passenger-focused body Bus Users UK. He is a past-President of The Omnibus Society.

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