Bunhill: Publisher hits brakes for train-spotter bores

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OH DEAR. Another businessman seems to have Ratnered his own customers. Ian Allan, the millionaire founder and chairman of Ian Allan Group, the transport publisher, is desperately trying to repair an alleged insult done to his core customers - train-spotters.

Allan, who has amassed a sizeable pile publishing those mind-numbing books of carriage numbers that are the sine qua non of the serious platform haunter, is busy these days denying a Daily Mail story thathe called the species 'utter bores'.

The article, published before Christmas, has provoked a flood of complaints to the normally quiet company in Shepperton, Middlesex. One letter read: 'You bastard. You're so clever. You've stamped on your roots.'

Allan has wisely written to Steam Railway magazine to set the record straight. 'I never stated that I loathed anyone or described anyone as an utter bore. I never use either of those words, so certainly I would not have described our customers as such.'

But after this solid piece of damage limitation, Allan, 71, then careers dangerously off the rails, admitting: 'What I did aver was that . . . there was a 5 per cent fringe of Sellotape-spectacled, multi-badge, dirty-anorak, beret-wearing puffer nutters who did take the hobby over the top.'

Well, that's all right then.

(Photograph omitted)