Ian Allan Publishing

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Ian Allan Publishing
Shepperton, Ian Allan Ltd - geograph.org.uk - 1078155.jpg
Ian Allan's Shepperton building in 2008
FounderIan Allan
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Headquarters locationShepperton
Publication typesBooks
Nonfiction topicsTransport, freemasonry
Official websitewww.ianallanpublishing.com

Ian Allan Publishing is a UK publisher, established in 1942, which specialised in transport books.[1] It was founded by Ian Allan (1922–2015).

In 1942 Ian Allan, then working in the public relations department for the Southern Railway at Waterloo station, decided he could deal with many of the requests he received about rolling stock by collecting the information into a book.[2] The result was his first book, ABC of Southern Locomotives. This proved to be a success, contributing to the emergence of trainspotting as a popular hobby in the UK, and leading to the formation of the company.[3]

The company has grown from a small producer of books for train enthusiasts and spotters to a large transport publisher. Each year it publishes books covering subjects such as military and civil aviation, naval and maritime topics, buses, trams, trolleybuses and steam railways, including history, preservation and modern operations. The headquarters is at the western end of Shepperton railway station in Surrey.

At the end of 2016, the company announced that it was withdrawing from railway publishing. Crécy Publishing acquired these titles, including the Oxford and abc imprints, but would no longer publish these under the Ian Allan name.[4]

Company acquisitions[edit]

Ian Allan Publishing has acquired several companies and imprints.

  • The Locomotive Publishing Company in 1956
  • Midland Publishing was acquired in 1999. The Midland imprint provides a range of specialist, highly illustrated titles, covering military aviation subjects from the Second World War to the present day. In civil aviation, comprehensive works of reference are published frequently.
  • Classic Publications, a publisher of aviation titles, was added in 2002, bringing another imprint widely considered important in the Second World War aviation market.

Ian Allan Publishing's trade representation is provided by Amalgamated Book Services for its own imprints and a growing list of associated publishers. Midland Counties Publications, acquired by Ian Allan Publishing at the same time as Midland Publishing, was established in the 1970s with the objective of selling books at aviation events and by mail order to a growing number of enthusiasts who could not always find the publications they wanted to read on the shelves of their local bookshop.

In addition to the above, Ian Allan also owns the imprint Lewis Masonic. Lewis Masonic produces the ritual books used by lodges and chapters under the United Grand Lodge of England. Ian Allan Publishing also published an extensive catalogue of general Masonic publications, but from the 1990s these were also transferred to the Lewis Masonic imprint, alongside the ritual books.


The company formerly had stores at Cardiff (closed 2015), Manchester Piccadilly (closed 2016), Birmingham (closed 2019) and London at Lower Marsh (closed 2020).


Ian Allan Publishing was well known for its range of enthusiast-based magazines, including the following titles:

A history of the company and of its publications down to 1967 appeared in the November 1967 edition of its magazine Railway World.

Those magazines still in print were acquired by Key Publishing in March 2012.

Through the Lewis Masonic imprint, the company also publishes the quarterly masonic magazine The Square, the longest running masonic periodical in the United Kingdom.

From 1962 to 2007 Ian Allan also published, jointly with the Light Rail Transit Association, the monthly magazine Modern Tramway—known later as Light Rail and Modern Tramway and currently as Tramways & Urban Transit—and continues to handle printing and some distribution of TAUT, as well as printing of the LRTA's quarterly historical journal, Tramway Review.[5]


  1. ^ "Ian Allan". 31 May 2007. Archived from the original on 4 December 2008. Retrieved 13 May 2010.
  2. ^ Interview for "The Last Days of Steam", Timeshift, BBC Four, broadcast 5 April 2012
  3. ^ "Trainspotting explained and its rise and fall". Rail. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  4. ^ "Era ends as Ian Allan quits railway publishing business". Heritage Railway. 13 January 2017.
  5. ^ "A new look for T&UT – and a new publisher". Tramways & Urban Transit, July 2007, p. 244.

External links[edit]