This magazine had a simple objective when it was founded in 1949, one that holds true as much in today’s changed world

The magazine then called Buses Illustrated first appeared nearly 75 years ago in November 1949, joining Trains Illustrated in the growing output of Ian Allan’s transport publishing business founded just seven years earlier. Trains Illustrated morphed decades later into today’s Modern Railways.

He had discovered a hunger, particularly among boys of school age, for transport spotters’ books that helped them find, identify and record what they saw. Starting with railways, these grew in scope to embrace trams, buses, trolleybuses, aircraft and other individually identifiable assets. His challenge was to reach a bigger audience without blowing the budget and that is where magazines came in.

He advertised the existence of the new magazines on the back covers of his abc spotters’ books and used the magazines to advertise each new book as it was published. As the magazines gained readers, they built up an audience eager to buy the new books; they also gained readers who first learnt about the magazines from the advertisements in the books. It was a perfect virtuous circle in which the magazines played a supporting role. And just to make sure that no opportunity was lost, there were Ian Allan Spotters’ Clubs — for trains and later for buses — to generate more loyalty to the brand with a sense of belonging for the many who joined and received a badge as part of their membership.

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