It is raining in central London but, at a shop near Waterloo station, trade is brisk. Ian Allan Book & Model Shop is a focal point for trainspotters, bus lovers and aviation enthusiasts. It is the last specialist transport shop in the country, but on October 31 it will close.
For the shop’s devoted clientele, it is devastating news. “The only other place to go is Foyles, and their transport section is two shelves,” said John Scott-Morgan, 66, a customer since it opened in 1987. People travel here from all over the country, said Kerry Foster, 56, the shop’s manager. “One of our clients comes from the West Country, several others from Scotland and Wales,” she said. Others journey from abroad to get the thrill of buying models in the land that invented the steam locomotive. One teenage boy comes from California with his parents every year. He calls it “the best shop in the world”, Foster said.