Ian Allan OBE (b. 1922) is the founder of the family-owned Ian Allan Group which includes Ian Allan Travel amongst its group of companies.
Ian started his first job in 1939, working for the Southern Railway Company in the Publicity and PR Department at Waterloo Station, mainly because of his love of all things trains. His first book, the ABC of Southern Locomotives, was published in 1942, and 200,000 copies of the first series of ABCs were sold between then and 1944, when Ian started the Ian Allan Locospotters Club which in its heyday achieved 250,000 members. After the Second World War, he started organising excursions for rail enthusiasts, ranging from visits to Narrow Gauge Railways, to Engine Sheds all over the Country. Ian started his own Printing Company in 1954, to print what he published, which was in those days still all about the railways.
The 1960s marked the company’s move to Shepperton into new offices built around a 1922 Pullman Car Carriage, which remains the Groups Boardroom to this day. It was also in Shepperton that Ian opened a small travel office, mainly to handle the rail excursion business. A thriving retail travel business built up, until 32 travel shops and three business travel centres later, it was sold to WH Smiths in 1988. Ian retained the company name, and Ian Allan Travel is today a management company that specialises in Corporate Travel and MICE.
Ian received an OBE in 1995 for services to Transport Publishing and King Edwards School in Witley (a school with its roots in the City of London) where he served as Treasurer and Chairman of the Board of Governors for twelve years. At age 82, Ian stopped coming into the office every day when he felt he deserved “a bit of a rest”.
He was honoured by the British Travel & Hospitality Hall of Fame in 2010.