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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Ian Allan (1922-2015)

A rail news website is reporting that publisher Ian Allan died on 28 June, one day before his 93rd birthday. Ian Allan Publishing has been in existence since the Second World War with Allan at its head for many years until he retired.

Born in London on 29 June 1922, Allan was educated St. Paul's School. He had a leg amputated following an accident during an Officer Training Corps exercise at the age of 15.

He had joined the office of the General Manager of the Southern Railway at Waterloo Station in 1939, but moved to the PR department following the outbreak of war. Here he learned the basics of the print and production of the Southern Railway magazine.

Dealing with a stready stream of questions from the public meant Allan kept extensive notes on all of Southern Railway's rolling stock but his suggestion that the company publish his notebooks was turned down. Instead, Allan published them himself and The ABC of Southern Locomotives, collecting useful information for "locospotters", appeared in 1943. The one shilling book quickly sold out its 2,000-copy print run.

A reprint and further titles followed. The company Ian Allan Ltd. was incorporated in 1945 and Trains Illustrated magazine began appearing the following year. Other magazines, including Locomotive Railway Magazine and Railway World followed. There was such an interest amongst readers that the publisher set up the Ian Allan Locospotters Club which would eventually have 300,000 members. Organizing trips for members gave Allan the experience to set up a travel agency. Other business interests included hotels, model making and manufacturing regalia.

Allan published a great many annual over the years, including Aircraft Annual (1949, 1954-75), Trains Annual (1954-60, 1967-71), Locospotters' Annual (1957-71), Ships Annual (1958, 1967-69, 1971), Buses Annual 1963-72, 1976-77) and Railway World Annual (1972, 1976-77).

He also published Eileen Gibb's The Adventures of Sammy the Shunter stories in an oblong format similar to the railway stories to the Reverand Awdry and kept them in print into the 1970s.

Allan, who was awarded the OBE in 1995, married Mollie Eileen Franklin in 1947 and had two sons.

Obituaries: The Guardian (6 July 2015), Daily Telegraph (30 June 2015).

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