Allen was born in 1948, one of 6 children to working-class parents, his father being a miner and his mother a former mill worker. He was educated at Ardsley (Infant, Juniors and Seniors) schools, then went to Bruntcliffe High School.
When he left school he went down the pit like his father, and was an apprentice miner. He also attended Wakefield College to study mining engineering, but left to join the Army (R.E.M.E.) where he won the cross rifles for marksmanship on the first shoot!
Many jobs followed but he started painting seriously in 1987, and had his first one-man exhibition the same year, which was a sell out on the first day. He had four more exhibitions after this in Leeds, Harrogate and Blackpool.
Allen has always been drawn to industrial landscapes, feeling that these are disappearing fast, and he tries to capture them before the past is gone forever. He thinks that we must not forget our industrial heritage, for that is what made us great.
He found out late in life that he has Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of Autism. He knew he was different but did not know why. He describes his feelings: “I was bursting inside to express myself and I found that art was my only friend”.
His aspiration has been to capture the essence of our country, for this is what he feels is his being. “I believe part of the city can produce powerful images, in the hands of a passionate artist”.