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


'Jack' and human!

The original Jack and human!



The author of the Jack books is 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 where they have lived ever since. 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.

Since then he has written over three hundred articles for model railway magazines including 'The Chronicle of Lock's Siding' in British Railway Modelling. Locks Siding is the longest running continuous monthly series by a freelance writer in the history of the world's model railway press. He has also written 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 is also the author of an introduction to Christianity for teenagers and adults called 'The Grand Rescue'.

Alan has been a railway enthusiast all his life and has always had model layouts of different gauges lurking in various corners of the house and garage. One of these is a small layout representing a typical siding area and is called Lock's Siding, after the family business, Locks the Hatters of London. He and Rosemary have 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.

Other News.

On July 28th Alan Cliff, author of the Jack the Station Cat children's books, was invited to a book signing at the National Railway Museum York. The footplate of "Mallard" the world's fastest steam locomotive, preserved at the museum, was specially opened up for him and the museum’s official photographer photographed Alan leaning out of the cab window (See left). This fulfilled a boyhood ambition for Alan as he had long wanted to go on the footplate of "Mallard" since he first saw the loco at King's Cross in 1946. Alan also presented a complete set of Jack books to the NRM Librarian Karen Baker as well as signing over 60 books for visiting children.

Alan at book signing

Keep 'em coming!

Alan handing over new books

Alan presents the books


Alan at Glan Clwyd Hospital

In the middle of August, Alan and Rosemary , his wife, visited Glan Clwyd Hospital and did an interview on the hospital radio station and also did a book reading session on the Children's Ward, shown to the right.


The books receive royal approval

He and Rosemary also met HRH Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, the Countess of Wessex when they visited Rhyl in the middle of July. Alan presented the royal Couple with a set of the books for Lady Louise Windsor.

Photographs reproduced courtesy of NRM York, Brenda Jones and Don Hale


Top of page