Ian Allan: publisher & railway preservationist

Born 29 June 1922. Educated St Paul’s School. 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. Has encouraged railway preservation, and the preservation of railway buildings. Autobiography Driven by steam disappeared from Sheringham Library, an oasis in a bibliographical desert, and this has impeded development of this page. 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..

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..

2010-12-18