The history of Modern Locomotives Illustrated

The history of the present Modern Locomotives Illustrated magazine can be traced back to 1975, when Locomotives Illustrated No. 1 was published by Ian Allan. The original idea of a magazine series with each issue covering a specific class or group of smaller classes of steam locomotives came from the late Geoffrey Freeman Allen, the erstwhile Editor of Trains Illustrated which later became Modern Railways as we know it today.

In mid-2007 the publishers were keen to update Locomotives Illustrated as the magazine had reached the inevitable point where it had covered all the main steam locomotives of Great Britain. Colin J. Marsden was approached by the then Magazine Publisher Paul Appleton to consider taking over the LI title and re-launch it to cover all the UK modern traction diesel and electric classes. This was a daunting prospect, as I had only recently handed over the editorship of Railways Illustrated to Pip Dunn after launching that title as a replacement to Railway World some years before. However, the opportunity to operate Locomotives Illustrated as a modern traction project was not to be turned down and I accepted the challenge. The last steam title Issue 170 was published in early 2008.

To take on its new life, the magazine was renamed as Modern Locomotives Illustrated and a total revamp of style, content and production methods were introduced. A lot of new Apple-based hardware was purchased together with the latest Adobe software to enable the revamped product to make the most of the modern production and printing procedures. The one area which could not be compromised was quality, in terms of both content and production, therefore the very latest PDF production technology was used together with the latest printing techniques. Over the past years Colin had invested in a vast collection of modern traction photographic material and together with a massive technical library was available for this new venture. Also.

The first Modern Traction edition of Modern Locomotives Illustrated No. 171 was published in May 2008 and covered the Class 37s diesel-electric locos. Considerable thought was given to the continuation of the issue numbering from Locomotives to Modern Locomotives Illustrated and the final decision taken was to continue the project as one series, enabling collectors to maintain the series from issue No. 1.

Since the Modern Locomotives Illustrated title was first published we have made a number of minor design and style changes, mainly to reflect reader suggestions and improve the look of the product. We are constantly asked to include larger and more detailed illustrations and to include more ‘numbered’ pictures showing component parts and equipment – this we have largely achieved.

When first re-launched as a modern traction archive publication is was proposed that Modern Locomotives Illustrated would run for around 10 years equating to around 66 issues, however, it now looks as if we have enough material with special editions and the ability to include some of the more unusual subjects, to see more like 80 issues published.


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