Ian Allan Publishing

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

Ian Allan Publishing
Ian Allan's Shepperton building in 2008
FounderIan Allan
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Headquarters locationShepperton
Publication typesBooks
Nonfiction topicsTransport, freemasonry
Official websitewww.ianallanpublishing.com

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 they were 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

Ian Allan Publishing has acquired several companies and imprints.

  • The Locomotive Publishing Company in 1956
  • Oxford Publishing Company was purchased in 1998 from Haynes Publishing Group and has become a prominent and well-regarded railway list; since 1998 OPC has undergone many changes, with investments being made in both new and backlist titles.
  • Midland Publishing was acquired in 1999. The Midland imprint provides a range of specialist, highly illustrated titles, covering military aviation subjects from World War II 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 World War II 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 High Street 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.



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

  • Hornby Magazine, a monthly magazine aimed at Model Railway Enthusiasts. Despite the title, the magazine covers products of all manufacturers, not just Hornby.
  • Railways Illustrated, a monthly publication targeting enthusiasts.
  • Modern Railways, previously Trains illustrated combined with Locomotive and Carriage & Wagon Review.
  • Modern Locomotives Illustrated, previously Locomotives Illustrated
  • Railway World, replaced by Railways Illustrated during 2003
  • Buses formerly Buses Illustrated
  • Buses Focus is a spin-off from Buses magazine. No Longer Published.
  • Bus & Coach Preservation was first published in 2001 under the Ian Allan banner following a merger of two previous titles.
  • Vintage Roadscene. This now bi-monthly journal covers the world of historic transport. It has been established for over 20 years.
  • Aircraft Illustrated was first published in 1968. It covered up to date news and features on civil aviation, airliners and preservation. In 2009 the magazine changed its focus to classic aircraft exclusively and was renamed Classic Aircraft.
  • Combat Aircraft provides in-depth coverage of the men and the machines at the forefront of the missions undertaken in today’s combat zones.
  • Modern Transport No longer published.
  • Passenger Transport No longer published.
  • Railway Modeller Sold on.
  • Model Railway Constructor

A history of the company and of its publications down to 1967 appeared in the November 1967 edition of their pmagazine 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.co.uk 20 October 2014
  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.
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