Exhibition of Ian Allan transport magazines is at March Museum

PUBLISHED: 08:30 14 April 2016

March museum new exhibition. Museum stewards Rebecca Saywell and Ken Stafford looking at the display. Picture: Steve Williams.

March museum new exhibition. Museum stewards Rebecca Saywell and Ken Stafford looking at the display. Picture: Steve Williams.

Archant

An exhibition of magazines by ‘icon of British transport publishing’ Ian Allan is now on-show at March Museum.

March museum new exhibition. Picture: Steve Williams.March museum new exhibition. Picture: Steve Williams.

During the 1950s and 60s, railway enthusiasts were ‘guided and encouraged’ by these publications.

Whilst working for Southern Railway’s public relations office in Waterloo (for 75 pence per week) he compiled a book about SR locomotives. However the railway management declined to publish it – but Mr Allan was permitted to do so privately.

‘ABC of Southern Railway Locomotives’ was published in 1942 and the first 2,000 sold out in days.

Mr Allan hadn’t anticipated that his booklets would encourage a ‘train-spotting’ hobby but within weeks groups of young boys began to gather at railway locations, marking off the numbers of engines as they passed.

In 1943, with his colleague and future wife, Mollie Franklin, he launched the Ian Allan Locospotters Club and by 1951 there were 150,000 members.

After founding Ian Allan Publishing in 1946, he began a magazine, ‘Trains Illustrated’, which eventually became ‘Modern Railways. The series of ABCs expanded to include buses, trams and trolley buses, aircrafts and ships.

As the steam engine gave way to more modern types of locomotive, the ABCs went into terminal decline. But it was not until 2012 that the magazine publishing business was sold.

The Ian Allan exhibition, which was prepared by members of the B17 Steam Locomotive Trust, is free to see.


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