Born in Cheshire in 1902, James Allan Cash had a passion for travelling from a young age. Allan Cash was a trained radio engineer and, at the age of 23, he moved to Canada to work for the Northern Electric Company's broadcasting station. After the Great Depression took hold in 1929, Allan Cash worked on a freelance basis. In the 1930s, he travelled the world, recording his adventures in a travel journal, which he illustrated with photographs taken on his Leica camera.
In 1937, the Hampstead Photographic Society was established and Allan Cash became a founding member. He went on to serve as president from 1944 to 1945.
In 1939, Allan Cash met and married a fellow photographer and travel writer called Betty. Together the established a commercial picture gallery, which specialised in travel photography, in their office on Parkway in Camden Town.