|Back to homepage|Jack the Station Cat Books|Grabbit and Skoot|
| Press Reviews |Links|Email|


'Jack' and human!

The original Jack and human!


Alan at book signing


The author of the Jack books was the Reverend Alan Cliff. He was born in Morecambe, Lancashire in 1936. His father was a doctor, as is his brother, Kenneth. However, Alan took a different route. After attending both Oxford and Cambridge universities, thus ensuring that he cannot lose the Boat Race, he became a Methodist minister in 1960. He also married Rosemary, his wife, in 1960.

After an initial stationing in Gorleston, near Great Yarmouth, he moved to Edinburgh where he became the youngest Superintendent Minister in Methodism at the time. In 1974 he moved from Scotland to Wales where he took charge of the Wrexham circuit.
Forced to take early retirement in 1987 on health grounds, he and Rosemary moved to Rhyl . They have four children and nine grandchildren.

It was suggested to Alan that he take up writing as an aid to recovery from his health problems. In 1990 he self published 'British makers of 0 gauge, 1890 - 1990', which sold 1,200 copies.
He wrote over three hundred articles for model railway magazines including 'The Chronicle of Lock's Siding' in British Railway Modelling. Locks Siding, we believe, is the longest running continuous monthly series by a freelance writer in the history of the world's model railway press. He also wrote for Words, Cambrensis and Linkway as well as other small literary magazines. In 1995 he won the Jo Cowell competition for article writing and in 1997 won the best humorous article competition. He was also the author of an introduction to Christianity for teenagers and adults called 'The Grand Rescue'.

Alan had been a railway enthusiast all his life and always had model layouts of different gauges lurking in various corners of the house and garage. One of these was a small layout representing a typical siding area and was called Lock's Siding, after the family business, Locks the Hatters of London. He and Rosemary had also been owned by cats for a number of years, prominent amongst which was a black and white shorthair called Jack who took delight in interfering with the Lock's Siding layout. This inspired Alan to introduce Jack as The Station Cat into the 'The Chronicle of Lock's Siding' from whence he developed the character in a series of childrens' books based on Jack's adventures.

'Jack – Special Agent', a story from 'Jack the Station Cat and the Space Aliens' was short-listed for the 2003 Goodchild prize for Excellent English, the second time one of Alan’s stories had been included amongst the six finalists. At the time, Alan was the only children’s author known to have been short-listed for this award.
Alan was elected as a full member of the Welsh Academi in 2006.

After a long period of ill health, Alan eventually passed away in October 2020, leaving behind a legacy of literature, written for both the young and the young at heart. He would hope that his works continue to provide enjoyment and entertainment for many years to come.



Top of page