Apart from its very detailed content, this is a most interesting book for a variety of reasons. It was published in 1944, when Britain was still at war both in Europe and Asia, while London was subjected to attacks by pilotless flying bombs (V 1), and later by supersonic rockets (V2). Every thing was rationed, including paper, the best qualities of which were not even produced in wartime. Hence the limited number of pages in the book, and the small font employed to get all the information in. The book was to some extent a “Thank You!” to the author from the young publisher Ian Allan for the support which MacLeod, a senior Southern Railway Officer had given him, it was amongst the first of the non ABC Locospotter’s books which Allan was eventually to publish, and a celebration of the amazing success which the ABCs had achieved. Every effort was made to make it a quality production. The illustrations were reproduced by photogravure rather than by half tone blocks, and the printers (who had done very well out of the ABCs) managed to produce some pre-war coated paper from their dwindling stocks, to make the best of the pictures. At 3/6d (roughly £4-40 at 2022 values), or seven times the price of an ABC, it was not cheap for a card backed booklet, and seems not to have sold very well- I seem to recall having seen it still advertised in Ian Allan lists in the late 50s or early 60s.
Alistair Balmain MacLeod (1900-1990) was apprenticed under Lawson Billinton at Brighton Works from 1919. One Thursday in 1928, having floated some suggestions to his then superior for improving services in the Isle of Wight, he was summoned to see Southern General Manager Sir Hebert Walker to say his piece. Walker was impressed and appointed him Assistant for the Isle of Wight, in charge of operations, mechanical engineering and commercial policy. Walker asked when he could start. MacLeod suggested the following Monday. Walker said “No, you will go tomorrow!” So until 1934, MacLeod became Pooh Bah for the islands railways, improving the motive power, rolling stock and train services. He was rewarded with promotion to be Western Divisional Running Superintendent and in 1936 became Assistant Locomotive Running Superintendent Southern Railway at Waterloo. It may seem odd that he retired as Stores Controller of the London Midland Region. On most railways that position was the most junior Chief Officer, post, often given to a senior officer just prior to retirement, giving a boost to his pension and conferring a Gold “All System Pass” as distinct from the “Silver Pass” which was limited to the home railway or Region, and the lot of mere Senior Officers!
At a time when most railway managements frowned upon such aberrations, (having incautiously mentioned at an interview when I was 17, that I was attempting to model the pre-group GWR. G. B. Potter, York District Traffic Supt. referred to me ever after as “The boy with the train set”) MacLeod was openly a railway enthusiast. He was a meticulous historian, railway model-maker and model engineer well known for his attention to detail.
Ian Allan (1922 -2015). Joined Southern Railway Co., as a junior clerk, in 1939. Although he Founded Ian Allan Ltd, Publishers in 1945, he was active while still in the employ of the railway. and while there were various postal addresses for mail order and book shop sales, much early work on the famous ABC series took place in the SR Offices at Waterloo. In fact, publication of the first book ABC Locomotives of the Southern Railway (1942) almost led to his ignominious sacking. Chief Mechanical Engineer, O.V.S. Bulleid was incandescent with rage, and demanded just that, while Public Relations and Advertising Officer, Cuthbert Grasemann (1890-1962) wanted the entire print run recalled and destroyed. The 20-year old Allan, was subjected to a furious tirade by Grasemann. whom Allan later described as… a bully and an unreasonable stinker yet he was a chap we all looked up to. He was unquestionably the boss and his staff trembled when he raged and we all moved on to cloud nine where we basked in the sunshine of his smiles — even if he just said ‘good morning’ in the toilet, for most people he totally ignored.
Fortunately, Allan had sent a complimentary copy to the Southern Railway Chairman, Col Eric Gore Brown. As the axe was about to fall, a letter from Gore Brown arrived complimenting all concerned on a wonderful piece of publicity for the company, which would also save much work for Southern staff in answering enquiries from members of the public. Sacking was put on the back burner, bur Bulleid banned Allan from ever entering the CME’S offices at Waterloo. Various members of the Southern staff rallied round to help, notably Assistant Locomotive Running Superintendent, A B. MacLeod, who supplied deficiencies in Allan’s knowledge, to the extent of virtually writing the second ABC dealing with locomotives of the LMS, but insisted that Allan’s name took precedence as joint author. Ben Webb, editor of the Southern Railway Magazine, wrote three booklets on Locomotive Engineers of the Southern, GWR and LNER. Even Grasemann eventually came into the tent (his great interest was the sea and in little boats. He was one of the oldest members of the Royal Cruising Club and a committee member of the Royal Yachting Association. He wrote Round the Southern Fleet, partly derived from English Channel Packet Boats