Saturday, 16 January 2016
A Tricky Christmas Quiz?
In 1942 Ian Allan, then working in the public relations department for 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. The result was his first book, "ABC of Southern Locomotives".
The company grew and grew and became a major transport publisher with wider products to enhance the business including three book and model shops.
fbb purchased a "Combined Volume" in about 1957 for 10 shillings and six pence.
For a brief period, the youthful fbb became a keen trainspotter, encouraged by a school chum. His enthusiasm did not last but moved over to model trains. Ah the transience of youthful enthuisams!
In 1960, Ian Allan published a quiz book.
fbb remembers idly picking up a copy and very quickly putting it down again. The one shilling and six pence price tag was not the problem; the questions were just too hard. The callow youth was in awe of anyone who knew as much as was demanded of them by this little book.
So it was that, just a few days ago, Mrs fbb gave her ever loving chubby hubby a Christmas Present. Yes, she did admit that it was a tad late but, as she apologetically explained, he had lost it. In a domestic tidy up the slim volume emerged from the coal measures in amongs knitting, old Christmas cards and a selection of domestic detritus.
The 2015 version is equally challenging and costs £9.99. But, fascinatingly, it includes a version of the 1960 edition. Both new and old quizzes are still fiendishly difficult. Here is just a selection from the first page of 55 years ago.
1. What is a compound locomotive and how does it work?
2. What is a superheated locomotive?
6. The WR County class are now being rebuilt with double chimneys. Which member of the class always had a double chimney.
8. Which was the first Merchant Navy locomotive to be rebuilt?
9. What was the wheel arrangement of the special banking locomotive Built by MR and LMS for the Lickey Incline?
13. What is a petticoat pipe?
29. Which two LNER Sandringham locomotives ran fitted with streamlining, and why?
47. What is a capuchon?
There were 275 questions in the 1960 book. Great fun and thoroughly depressing!
But what about the "current edition". Click on the pic to enlarge and try a few.
Or, even better, buy the book!
Ian Allan died in June last year just one day before his 93rd birthday. From his simple idea grew a major business. An extract from one of the many on-line tributes is typical:-
I learned today of the passing of Ian Allan OBE, FCIT, my employer from 1963-8 and again from 1977-92. Often dubbed 'the inventor of trainspotting', it was not something he ever claimed to be. What he did, was to popularise locomotive spotting at a time when money for non-essentials was scarce and boys needed something to occupy them that required minimal adult input. What started in such a small way ended up as a company which, in addition to book and magazine publishing, had travel agencies, car dealerships, a Masonic regalia shop and a supplier of organic gardening materials. Despite the similarity of name he was not related to the Allens (Cecil J and Geoffrey Freeman) both of whom did work for his company.