Friday, September 13, 2019
Farewell to Ian Allan, Birmingham
It was a sad day on Tuesday. I paid my last visit to the Ian Allan bookshop in the centre of Birmingham.
It's a trip I've made many times - any trip to Brum included a few minutes in there for as long as I can remember. Once it was the basement on Stephenson Street but a few years ago they were displaced to a nicer shop around the corner.
Is it silly to mourn a shop?
If it is, I am silly. So many model shops have vanished now. The Train Shop in Warwick, Toytown in Leamington (models upstairs), Trinders in Birmingham, Bob's Models in Solihull. Now Ian Allan joins the list.
For bargain hunters, this was good news. I arrived to see signs announcing 75% off everything. I'm sure the vultures were circling but I just wanted to make a final purchase for old times sake.
Inside, there was hardly any stock and what there was, was mostly books, Much of it has gone to the Waterloo branch, but customers have been clearing the shelves too. Some will miss the place and left "Sorry you're leaving" cards for both shop and staff.
My bag was heavier by the end of the visit. I don't need 8 1/2 inch tall plastic kit palm trees but I didn't fancy any of the other kits. Anyway, this was the silliest and that wins for me.
My favourite purchases were as Ian Allan as you could get:
A loco spotting book and a card showing a Class 40 in the snow.
For now, the centre of Birmingham is devoid of model shops. This might change though as one of the IA managers is setting up a news hop near the law courts, and near the bottom of the Grande Central ramp, is an art shop called "Let's Fill This Town With Artists" that supply architectural modelmakers. If you need 3mm scale people or lichen, they can help.
I am sad about the loss of another safe place for nerdy train-loving people. We don't have many places to call our own. If you have a local model shop, then use it!