Ian Allan: publisher & railway preservationist

Born 29 June 1922 at Christ's Hospital School, Horsham and died in Horsham on 28 June 2016. Educated St Paul’s School where he lost a leg during officer cadet training. Joined Southern Railway Co., in 1939. Founded Ian Allan Ltd, Publishers, 1945. Famous for his ABC series and for the encouragement of locospotting. See Carter for an academic study and C.J. Allen in Railway World, 1967, 28, 474.. Article also covers extension of series; the growth of locomotive spotting and its associated rail tours and visits to depots and works.
Has encouraged railway preservation, and the preservation of railway buildings. Autobiography Driven by steam is key. This page mainly based on Who's Who entry. Chairman, Ian Allan Group Ltd, since 1962.: major publisher of books and influential magazines notably Modern Railways. Awarded OBE in 1995. First encountered as a publisher by KPJ with the ABC LNER renumbering edition and he was hooked. ABC of Southern locomotives warmly welcomed by Locomotive Mag., 1943, 49, 16.+This was followed by volumes for each of the main line railways, volumes for London Transport, etc and the ABC Locoshed books.

Ian Allan's history of his publishing activity is very well-covered and does not need to be repeated here. Nevertheless, it is appropriate to note that although at times some of the output from this publisher has been extremely thin (one thinks of the "new editions" which lacked the colour plates and high quality of the original print-runs) there have also been many excellent series, such as the books by Haresnape and the superb compilation on light railways by Martin Smith. Firm reprinted Ahrons and Acworth. His activity has also greatly expanded the enthusiast market, and must have done much to prevent the railways being even smaller than they might have been given the "smut-in-the-eye" Margaret Thatcher, and the intolerable cuts which took place under Macmillan and Harold Wilson
Ian Carter's British railway enthusiasm makes a serious academic examination of the subject which includes a perceptive study of Ian Allan the publisher, which has enjoyed a longevity denied to many more famous names, and to the relatively brief days of locospotting which is entered in the index as train spotting without a cross reference from spotting. Perhaps predictably, such "nonsense" gets no mention in the Oxford Companion in spite of the term entering the English language in the same way that terms used by yachtsmen or horse women have crossed into everyday usage..

Driven by steam. Shepperton, Ian Allan,1992. 160pp.
Autobiography and source of much information on authorship. Lacked an index


Chapter 1 Joining the Southern Railway 6
Chapter 2 Harnessing the Southern to Work 13
Chapter 3 Forming the Company 24
Chapter 4 Building the Business 42
Chapter 5 Hampton Court 57
Chapter 6 Moving to Shepperton 67
Chapter 7 Miniature Railways 73
Chapter 8 Alarums and Excursions 80
Chapter 9 Chichester and Coombelands 104
Chapter 10 Hotels 113
Chapter 11 Mystic Arts 117
Chapter 12 An Unfortunate Diversion 119
Chapter 13 Railway Personalities 122
Chapter 14 Preservation Scene 138
Chapter 15 Organics and Motors 144
Chapter 16 A Few Other Activities 147

Allen, Cecil J. 125-6
Allen, Geoffrey Freeman

Barrie, D.S.M. 132
Bucknall, Rixon 127
Dow, George  
Grasemann, Cuthbert 125
MacLeod, Alistair 125
Morris, O.J.  126-7
Nock, O.S. . 131
Treacy, Eric .
Whitehouse, Pat. 127

Charles Simpson's first action when we took over Loco Pub Co was to march me round to Millbank to meet P.C. Allen, a director of ICI and who was burgeoning as a railway nut. We had a pleasant meeting which began a relationship which lasted for years. Peter Allen followed Beeching into the ICI chair and picked up his knighthood, wrote several books for us and inaugurated an annual railway party at his Battle home where he and his wife Consuela entertained every year a wide selection of the cream of rail- way nuts. It was quite an honour to be included and I think I have been
Above: Guests at one of Peter Allen's railway parties: John Scholes of the then Clapham Transport Museum, Geoffrey Freeman Allen, Ian Allan, Pat Ransome-Wallis and Pat Whitehouse.
invited each year as have some of the regular attenders including such famous names as Hamilton-Ellis (whose patron PCA was) Maxwell, Hardy, Olver, McAipine, Skeat, Scholes, Coiley, Manisty, Morgan, Whitehouse, MacLeod, Ransome-Wallis and dozens more. Alas, Peter had a hip operation which went wrong which rather incapacitated him but still did not debar him from overseas tours always in search of railways. He has been President of the Transport Trust and lent his name to one of the buildings of the NRM at York but I shall remember him best as genial host each summer at Battle. I have always hated dealing with authors. They always want too much money and are never satisfied with the book you produce. One such was the great Peter Parker is a nice chap, how good a Chairman of BRB he was, I know not but he certainly was brilliant at staff and public relations: it seemed that once anyone had met him, his memory locked in and he thereafter not only remembered people by name but quite a lot about them too. He came down to Dart Valley on one occasion to have a look round and to name Goliath the large 2-8-0T which had just come on .stream. He met me with a piece of paper in his hand and his opening gambit was, 'You are going to ask me if you can get your train into Totnes and I'm afraid you cannot.' A few months later out of the blue came a signal from Swindon inviting us to do just that and £40,000 later, the cost of a new signalling system, I signed the running powers agreement with the WR Deputy GM, Paul Witter, in

ABC booklets

A.B.C. of G.W.R. locomotives. Ian Allan. 40 pp, and cover
presumably amongst first compilations: noted in Locomotive Mag., 1943, 49, 188 Sixth edition reviewed Locomotive Mag., 1947, 53, 148.
A.B.C. of L.M.S. locomotives. Ian Allan.
Review in Locomotive Mag., 1947, 53, 148
A.B.C. of Southern electrics, Ian Allan. Foolscap 8vo., 24 pp. and cover
Review in Locomotive Mag., 1943, 49, 172