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Obituary: Norman Allan of Dundee, editor of boys’ favourite The Bullet

Norman Allan with his Morgan car.

Norman Allan, a former editor of The Bullet boys’ paper has died aged 87.

He was a journalist with publisher DC Thomson for 41 years, after joining from school in 1952.

For many years he was an elder of St Stephen’s and West Church, Broughty Ferry, a hillwalker, a curler and classic car enthusiast.

Norman was born in St Andrews, the eldest of Muriel and Norman Allan’s three children.

Norman Allan, far left, with friends in his younger days.

His father was a master painter and an entertainer who played drums in The Andronnaires band at dance halls around Fife and Dundee.

He excelled at his studies at both the old Burgh School in St Andrews and then Madras College.

An avid reader who had shown a great aptitude for English, it was no great surprise that Norman was offered an editorial job with DC Thomson in Dundee.


His quick wit and great sense of humour were recognised and he was put to work in children’s publications, the first one being on the comic, The Adventure.

Norman undertook various roles editing children’s comics for the next 41 years, including The Wizard, and eventually as editor of The Bullet, and latterly The Judy.

In the early days he commuted from St Andrews to Dundee every day by train because there was no road bridge at the time.

Norman Allan, far right, in 1974 at the retiral party for RD Low of DC Thomson. From left are Roy Matthews; Ian McLaren; RD Low; Ian Gray; Jim Thomson; Ian Munro and Norman Allan.

However, no sooner had he started with DC Thomson, he was called up for National Service for a real adventure of his own with British forces at the Suez Canal in Egypt.

Civilian life

After completing his National Service he returned to DC Thomson and eventually he rented a flat with his friend John Cairns in Long Lane in Broughty Ferry.

It was while he was living in Broughty Ferry that he went to the marriage of one of his St Andrew’s school friends, Lawson Campbell, to his bride, Jean.

And it was there that he met Jean’s sister Hazel, who also happened to be the bridesmaid. A year later they became engaged to be married.

Norman and Hazel Allan.

Norman and Hazel married a year after that in 1961 in Strathmartine Church, Dundee, and together they started their new life living in a flat in Mains Road.

A year later, their first son Howard was born, and shortly after this they moved into their brand-new house in Stratheden Road in West Ferry. In 1965 their second son, Murray, was born.

They joined St Stephen’s and West Church and Norman happily took on many roles to help in the church community.

Norman Allan and his sons Murray and Howard.

He was initially a Sunday school teacher and led a Bible class. In 1970 he took over as editor of the church magazine and continued as editor for the next 50 years, long after his own retirement.

Norman eventually retired from DC Thomson in 1992 at the age of 58 and Hazel retired just a few years later, so the two of them were able to enjoy many happy, relaxing years together, doing the things they both loved.

They went on many long trips abroad, visiting places such as the United States, India, and hillwalking in the Himalayas.


Norman loved travelling all over the UK and parts of Europe with Hazel in their caravan.

He was also a keen cyclist for many years, and after his retiral he, along with an old work colleague Roy Mathews, embarked on a cycling tour of Europe – at the age of 65 – travelling around Holland, Germany, and France.

Norman Allan was a keen cyclist.

Norman also loved his boats and was a member of both Dundee Sailing Club and the Royal Tay Yacht Club.

Over the years, since the 1970s, he had various yachts and dinghies, including his first one, which he built from a kit in his garage.

A keen curler and a member of Broughty Ferry Curling Club, Norman was also a gifted and amusing public speaker at dinners and Burns Suppers.

He also devoted time to support the memory of Scotland’s other national bard, William McGonagall.


On several occasions he was moved to publish letters in McGonagall’s defence to national newspapers when they described him as Scotland’s worst poet.

Of course, Norman would pen his slightly tongue-in-cheek replies in the style of McGonagall, so they were bound to print them. He knew McGonagall was not the best poet but always felt he was too often maligned by journalists.

He was also a rather talented artist and, in his retirement, enjoyed spending time paining in watercolours, both at home and during his travels with Hazel.

One of his greatest passions, however, was classic cars. He owned many over the years and even raced a few of them at club events.


He was a skilled mechanic and was able to turn a hand to fix most of the things that were needed to keep his old cars safely on the road.

Norman did have newer classics as well such his beloved Morgan, but he was always a little disappointed with newer cars because there was never anything to fix.

He was a fantastic dad to his two sons Murray and Howie and proud grandfather of Daisy and Scarlett.

The family’s announcement can be read here.