Sacred Shedbooks

After reading the interesting article in the first Traction Annual
about Ian Allan Combined Volumes I was stired into action with
regard to my affinity for these Books. My first introduction to them was
through a 1967 Locoshed Book which my Father bought for me at the
tender age of 7 as he wondered if I might be interested in this popular
hobby. Funnily enough, this particular Edition is quite a rarity now and
is difficult to find in good condition..Last Year I saw an Unmarked Nice
Copy sell on e bay for about £70!

My interest in collecting Loco Numbers blossomed when one of my
friends re-introduced me to this curious Hobby and I obtained a 1973
Edition of the Ian Allan Locoshed book. The Locoshed Edition to me
was an extremely useful book - not only did it have all the Loco Numbers
with Depot Allocations as well but it also required much less of my precious pocket money to procure! The Shed Allocations were a useful reference to confirm that the Named Class 47 you have just copped was totally off-region!

During my few years of non-interest in Railways I always kept my Ian Allan Spotting Books, a fact I was very pleased about after a visit to the Great Central Railway re-kindled my interest in Railways. At this time I was surprised to see that some dealers were selling old Ian Allan Spotting Books, I thought it would never catch on! How wrong I was - as now there is great interest in these Books with the rare ones fetching very High prices in Unmarked Condition (that's the way most collectors prefer to see them! - which was not the original intention of course!)

In fact I now have a near complete collection of Loco shed books in Unmarked or Very good Condition - This has taken about 20 years to put together! So it can be seen how rare some examples are. The 1950's Locoshed books are the most difficult to find in good condition and there are some that are extremely rare.An example is the 1952 Combined Shedbook (It was issued by Regions in that year) of which I have only ever seen a handful of examples! In fact this book was simply the 4
original books bound together in with an extra cover. During the 1950's and in common with the Combined Volumes there were usually two Editions of the Locoshed book published each year so there are even more of these difficult to find editions than you would think! A famous Abc dealer is Mr George Burbage-Atter who has published a definitive book detailing all the different editions of Ian Allan Railway Abc's - an essential guide for the serious collector.

Many people struggle with the date or 'year produced' of these books but if you know where to look this is usually easily found. Some of the 1950/ 60's editions have the date on the Inner front page or even on the cover but where this is not stated a 'checked to' date can usually be found in the first few pages, just after the 'notes on use of this book'. On a lot of the 50/ 60's editions there is also a code on the back of the cover
which contains the month and year produced.

The individual Diesel books that appeared in the late 1950' s to me have the most evocative covers of all. The colourful Warship at Sydney Gardens on the Cover of the 1970 Edition for example takes a lot of beating. The Photograph was taken by none other than Ivo Peters and
this book is highly sought after these days. The Shed books too had some interesting and unusual covers. The cover of the 1965 Edition must have looked quite modern at the time with bright colours and modern type-set whilst the cab line up of D425/ 427/428 makes a classic image on the 1970 Edition. In fact this picture was used again for the inside cover on later year Editions.

The last Locomotive Spotting Abc was made for 1990 as Ian Allan deemed that the books were not economically viable. This was sad but Ian Allan have left us with an amazing snapshot of the Locomotive scene over the Classic years and these books are in so much demand now that Ian Allan have taken to making regular re-prints of some of the 1950's/ 60's Editions.

Note: This article appeared in the Second Edition of 'Traction' Annual (2008/9)
(Along with pictures of some of my books)
If you would like a copy please mail me at
Price £5.00 + £1.70 post/ packing