Allan at a meeting of the Tour Guides

Honor Ridout, a fellow Blue Badge Guide and one time Tourist Officer for Cambridge City Council

I am going to seriously miss Allan – more than my rather distant relatives who have died this year. Every guide or local history or museum meeting I went to, I hoped he would be there. Even when he was railing about some failure of local government (or national government or any similar institution) his passion was somehow uplifting and reassuring, that someone out there was making representations and stirring things in a way I’m not capable of.

Allan with a tour on the Castle mound

I first came across him when he was wheeling his street sweepers’ barrow out from the store behind my then office (I was Tourist Officer for the City Council) in Parson’s Court. He commented later that I always smiled at him. Perhaps because he somehow didn’t look like the stereotype of road sweeper. I was very pleased when he signed up to train as a Tour Guide (because, he said, he was already directing tourists, and he might as well be paid for it). I learnt then that he was really a historian (History degree from Sheffield). We then both undertook the 3 year Madingley Certificate of Local History course so I got to know more about his interests, though not as much as I have heard more recently from his own biographical film. 

His commitment and enthusiasm never dimmed, whether he was talking to people about rubbish, or leading his very popular tours of ‘town’ Cambridge. How he found the energy for all that, beside his work on behalf of his fellow cleaners, and keeping up with and challenging the Council’s housing and environment plans, I do not know. He leaves a big gap that it would take several people to fill.

Allan at the foot of Castle mound, talking about the executions carried out at the gaol and just a waving hand, in St Peter’s churchyard. One of the main points is the number of people on that tour. He had such a keen following, his tours were so inspirational.

All photos courtesy of Honour Ridout.

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