The rear-engined double decker appeared in
1960, when an early production Daimler Fleetline and a Leyland Atlantean,
both with identical Metro-Cammell bodies, (68/9, MFN 968/9 respectively) entered the fleet for
comparative trials. The Atlantean came out on top, though many
said this was a foregone conclusion given the large numbers of Leylands
already operated, whilst the last Daimlers had gone some years
previously. In consequence, three further Metro-Cammell bodied
Atlanteans arrived in early 1961 (70-2, PKT 470-2), and two more, with Park Royal bodies
came in 1963 (73/4, UKT 473/4). All these (including the
non-standard Fleetline!), managed over 20 years active service.
A further pair were acquired with the takeover of the Enterprise
fleet in 1967. These (85/6, CKN 15/6D) had Alexander bodies, a
make new to Eldorado, and were just over a year old when acquired.
85 was withdrawn after 18 years service, but 86 was converted to open
top in 1976, and went on to give a total of 31 years service before
being withdrawn in 1998.
A batch of Northern Counties bodied Atlanteans was ordered, with
delivery starting in 1968 and extending over the next three years. Three
of the five were conventional single-entrance (75/6/8, HUF 75/6G/KUF
78J), one had coach seats and
was finished by Plaxton (77, KUF 77H), and the fifth (81, JKT 81J) was dual door - the first of this
layout which was to be in vogue for several years. Regrettably
this vehicle was to survive less than two years before it was destroyed in a
depot fire in 1972. Although other vehicles were damaged in the
fire, this was the only write-off.
|The first 10-metre double deckers arrived in late 1971, a pair of
dual door Roe bodied Atlantean PDR2/1s (79/80, LKN 79/80K) being followed by a third with
one door and 85 seats (83, MKN 83K).
||These were accompanied by a more normal 9m Atlantean, but unusually with ECW bodywork
(82, LKN 282K).
The final PDR-series Atlantean, perhaps inspired by the ex-Enterprise
vehicles, was delivered in 1971 with Alexander bodywork (84, JKT 84J).
In 1973, a further Northern Counties
bodied Atlantean (87, NKN 87L) was added to the fleet. This was the
first of the AN68 type, and had a radically different body style from
previous examples. Its dual door bodywork closely resembled those
being delivered to SELNEC at that time, as their EX-series, and was, in
its various guises, to
become the standard Eldorado double decker until the end of Atlantean
production. They became known as "Eldorado Standards", perhaps
because of Eldorado's proximity to Manchester, where similar vehicles
went on to become SELNEC (later Greater Manchester Transport)
Over the next nine years, a further seven were delivered. These
|In 1990 two secondhand one were acquired, from Jubilee Coaches (108,
VHD 308V) and Reliance (109, BVR 36T), both dual door with flat
||In the meantime, in 1981, a pair of SELNECs previous standards, the
Mancunian, had been acquired (116/7, HVM 916/7F).
|... and in addition to
the "Standards", two new Roe bodied examples (114/5, EKN 114W/MKN
115Y) were acquired in 1980 and 1982 respectively.
As has already been mentioned, one of the ex-Enterprise Atlanteans,
(86) was converted to open top in 1976, finally being withdrawn in
||In 1981, the PDR1 with Northern Counties body finished as a coach by
Plaxton, by then 11 years old, was rebuilt (by Northern Counties) as a
bus. It went on to give another nine years of service before
being withdrawn in 1990.
|One of the Mancunians acquired in 1981 (116, HVM 916F), was converted
to open top before entering service, and survived in this guise until
||Finally, the very first AN68, (87, NKN
87L), after 18 years of service, was converted to single door
and totally refurbished by Alexander in 1991, gaining an
Alexander R-type front panel on an otherwise standard-looking
Northern Counties body, and was treated to a cherished
registration remarkably similar to its original one - 87 NKN.
This gave it a further eight years lease of life, until being
withdrawn in 1999.
Atlantean/Northern Counties 118/9 (KKN 118/9X), the last Atlanteans in the fleet, were withdrawn in October 2000, bringing 40 years of Atlantean operation
to an end.
For the record, the Eldorado Leyland Atlanteans over the years have numbered 32 in total, with 26 bought new, 4 secondhand, and 2 acquired with takeovers. There have been:
- 17 PDR1's, with bodywork by Alexander (3), ECW (1), Metro-Cammell (4), Northern Counties (5) and, Park Royal (4),
- 3 PDR2's, bodied by Roe,
- 12 AN68's, bodied by Roe (2) and Northern Counties "Standards" (10).
The Atlantean fleet peaked in 1985, when this make accounted for 82% of the double deck fleet (23 out of 28).