Allen, Cecil John
b Clapton, Middx 1886, d Gloucs 1973. Joined the Engineer’s Dept of the Great Eastern Railway, whose history he later wrote, at 17; later became an inspector of materials for LNER (the London and North Eastern Railway) until retirement in 1946. He was FRSA and M.Inst.T. In 1906 he wrote his first piece for The Railway Magazine, and this began a prolific ‘alternative’ career in railway journalism for which he became best known. As well as using his own name he adopted two pseudonyms to avoid the impression that he wrote the whole magazine. From 1909 to 1958 he contributed an unbroken monthly series of nearly 500 articles on British locomotives, moving to appreciate the change from steam to diesel more than some of his older readers did. In 1965 his memoirs noted that he had travelled over 2 million miles by train, many on the footplate. To his 40 or so books he added the gifts of a lecturer and broadcaster. From his home at Hatch End, Middx, he visited Switzerland by train each year, and enjoyed ‘mountaineering by train’ up to his 87th year. He was a director of Ian Allan Ltd, whose books were devoured by a generation of post-war trainspotters, from its formation in 1945 to 1968. Railway authorities in the UK (then British Railways) and in Europe awarded him ‘all stations’ free passes. A gifted organist, he also became a Crusader (Christian Bible class) leader, editing The Crusaders’ Magazine from 1931 onwards and turning it into a high-quality journal, and in later years belonged to a Methodist ch at Epsom, Surrey where he used to preach without any notes. Some of his tunes featured in Christian Praise, Hymns of Faith, and CH among others. Nos.205, 425, 760.