Sunday, 28 June 2009

The Dennis Allenden Fan Club


Yesterday I took a trip to Bala, the pretty way, which just happens to pass the Bala Lake Railway at Llanuwchllyn. They serve excellent tea, scrumptious cakes and a fine selection of pre owned model railway magazines. I left with a handful of Model Railway News and it's sucessor Model Railways. I was particularly pleased as there were three articles by the late Denis Allenden. Quite apart from being a model making genius, way, way ahead of his time, he was quite simply the best writer to have ever written about our hobby. Even if you're not interested in the railways of France, try to get hold of some of his work; it's learned, witty and without a trace of being forced.

5 comments:

David Long said...

So glad that someone else recognises Denis' contribution to the hobby. He died a long time ago now but his writings in MRN, MR and Railway Modeller are as fresh and as full of inspiration as they were when written. His layout was featured in a 1970s copy of the Modeller and to describe it as bizarre and eclectic would not do it justice.

quba said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to

say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Patricia

http://lioneltrains.info

robertday154 said...

I agree with David Long.

I suspect that it was Dennis Allenden's articles in the MRN that contributed to my becoming an avid Continental fan (though in my case, my interest has settled down in some of the stranger parts of Central and Eastern Europe - but still with that same fascination with the quaint and downright weird). I was recently able to pick up some second-hand copies of MRN with some of his stuff in; I have much more, but the magazines are stored in an outdoor garage where moth and corruption can enter. And mice.

A few years ago, I googled Dennis and got no hits whatsoever. After encountering these articles, I tried again and your blog came top of a rather longer list, I'm pleased to say. Bravo!

A while back, I was at the Leamington show and saw a French outline O gauge layout set in the 19th century; it had a wine merchant's warehouse whose doors bore the legend "Allenden Freres". I congratulated the owner on his good taste, and in true Gallic spirit (despite - or even, in the spirit of the Auld Alliance, because of - being from Scotland), he invited me behind the layout for "un petit boire". We chatted a while and he told me that when Dennis died, within a week a rich Swiss collector turned up on his widow's doorstep with a big fat chequebook and bought the whole collection outright. So I suspect that the whole lot now resides in some secret Swiss cellar - or worse still, in a (large) bank deposit box!

Anonymous said...

Good to hear of others who appreciate Dennis Allenden's inspirational work. His writings in the 60's and 70's still inform, inspire and entertain after all this time.
I do hope his models are still preserved and that one day we might get to see them again. His wonderful recreations of such esoteric prototypes opened up a whole new world of locomotive engineering to be explored. I still remember as a schoolboy the day his article in a 1970s Railway Modeller arrived through my parents'letterbox. RTR Triang OO never quite seemed to satisfy after reading that article!

Steve Phillips - Worcestershire

John Davies said...

Hooray - glad to see a site devoted to one of my inspirational greats. I loved his work, as a teen reader of the mags, back in the sixties and seventies, ranking him with the likes of Denny, Ahern and Beal. I'm currently building a HOm layout for the European Railways Association, and using his Le Mortier Gumond station plans.
I'm delighted to see the story about a Swiss enthusiast buying his own collection, having been assured that it had all gone in the dustbin. Peace to you, Dennis. What kind of layout are you, Peter Denny and John Ahern building now, I wonder?