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Saturday, 5 January 2019

Two vertical jigsaws from Sovereign Publications

May I take this opportunity to wish all supporters of the blog a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

Today's post, 5th January 2019, features two pics of portrait style jigsaws from Sovereign Publications.

Titled M.R. Compound Class 4 4-4-0 No.1000, (left), this 600-piece jigsaw from Sovereign Publications shows the preserved compound, Midland Railway (MR) locomotive on the 'Cumbrian Mountain Pullman' 'Special'. No.1000 was the first locomotive designed by Samuel Johnson for the MR. She was built at Derby Works in 1902 as No.2631, but renumbered to No.1000 in 1907. Richard Deeley modified the design in 1914 in which state she remained until 1923, when she became part of the London Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS). Nationalisation in 1948 meant renumbering again as British Railways (BR) No.41000. She was 'pensioned off' from BR in 1951, heading for preservation. Restored in 1959 to virtually 1914 condition and MR red livery, to run main line 'Specials', she was then stored at the Transport Museum in Clapham. She became a static exhibit at the National Railway Museum in York but is now at the Barrow Hill Engine shed in Derbyshire, on loan. In the jigsaw photograph the locomotive is double-heading with a second engine but there are no details on the box. However, David Rostance' photographs on 'Flickr' show No.1000 double heading with 'Jubilee' class 4-6-0, No.5690 Leander, heading the 'Cumbrian Mountain Pullman' on 5th and 12th February 1983. These photographs in the snow show many similarities to the jigsaw picture. A postcard of the same photograph used for the jigsaw has been on sale on Ebay recently.

The jigsaw (right) is titled B.R. Class 4MT No.80135. The locomotive was built as a large, 2-6-4 tank type by Robert Riddles, of British Railways, in 1956 at Brighton. She was withdrawn from service in 1965 and arrived at Barry Scrapyard a year later. In 1973, the locomotive became the 39th condemned example to be reprieved and rescued from the famous Woodham Bro's scrapyard. She was to be purchased by the North Yorkshire Moors Railway Trust (NYMRT) in 1973, but shortage of cash meant that she was sold to a Dutch businessman, who had her restored between 1977-1980. On his death in 2006, the locomotive was bequeathed to the NYMR where she remains today. She is out of service for repairs at the present time.

Friday, 7 December 2018

The Second, Pair of Puzzles from CHUMS

In this post, 7 December 2018, I am describing the second pair of puzzles mentioned in the previous post - i.e. the final two from a set of four jigsaws showing Classic British Trains, marketed by Chums. Both are of 500 pieces, made by Grovely JHG Puzzles.

The first, left,  is titled Flying Scotsman, Keighley & Worth Valley Railway. The puzzle picture shows the famous locomotive, ex LNER class 'A1/A3' 4-6-2 No.60103 Flying Scotsman, heading a passenger service across a road at Oakworth. Gathered steam enthusiasts are positioned to photograph the passing train and a single, signal gantry is prominent. The blog source of more information about Flying Scotsman, the locomotive and the named train, is described  in the previous post.

The second puzzle, right, is titled Jinty No. 47406, Idridgehay. Ex LMS class '3F' 0-6-0T tank locomotive, No.47406 was the 147th locomotive to leave the famous Barry Scrapyard (South Wales) in 1983. She was one of 422 built between 1924 and 1931 and was withdrawn from BR service in 1967; she has been based at the Grand Central Railway, at Loughborough, since 2010. The jigsaw photograph however, shows the loco on the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, at Idridgehay. The railway runs from Wirksworth to Duffield in the Derbyshire Peak District, a distance of around 9 miles. A small extension of less than 1 mile joins Wirksworth to Raventor, close to the High Peak Trail and National Stone Centre. The jigsaw photograph was probably taken in 2017 when No.47406 was visiting the EVR.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Two of four from CHUMS

Today's post, 18 November 2018,  features half of a quartet of super jigsaws retailed by Chums, but from the Grovely JHG Jigsaws stable.

I tried to purchase a set of 4 steam railway jigsaws from Chums, close to Christmas last year, but was told that they had sold out and no more were expected. This year I went much earlier and bought the current set of 4 featuring Heritage Railway photographs of excellent quality (not always the case with photographs). The two published here are (left) Flying Scotsman, Goathland and (right) Union of South Africa, Oakham, locomotives at the forefront of main line steam. Information on Flying Scotsman, locomotive and train, can be found in the post of 28th June 2011; just click on the year in the side bar archive, and the posts will appear. Goathland is a station on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. The village is famous as the set for the TV series Heartbeat.

Union of South Africa was designed by Sir Nigel Gresley of the L.N.E.R. and appeared in 1937 as No.4488 Osprey. She was re-named a little later to commemorate the founding of the Union of South Africa. Unfortunately for steam enthusiasts and class 'A4' lovers in particular, owner John Cameron is insistent that the locomotive will be retired in April 2019, along with his 'K4' class 2-6-0 locomotive, The Great Marquess. He intends to build a special visitor centre for both on his farm in Scotland. Oakham is a station in Rutland.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018


The centre of attraction in today's post, 23rd October 2018, is the new-ish, 4-6-2 steam locomotive No.60163 Tornado. I say this because she is the most recent steam locomotive to be built in the UK, (at Darlington Works in 2008), and the first one since Evening Star graced BR metals (rails) in 1960. Tornado has been a regular attraction on the Main Line and at Heritage Railway events since her introduction in 2008. She is the only LNER, Peppercorn 'A1' class locomotive in existence, as the other members of the class were all scrapped in the British Railways' era.

Tornado is also the only steam locomotive to reach 100mph for over 50 years, the first being Flying Scotsman or City of Truro - depending on whether you are an LNER or a GWR  enthusiast. She was built for the A1 Locomotive Trust and photographs of the engine have been arranged as a montage in the jigsaw above. The 1000-piece jigsaw, simply titled 60163 'TORNADO', was produced by Ryco Crafts of Ripon.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Gibson's Gift Box.

In this post, 20 September 2018, I am describing a jigsaw puzzle from Gibsons which is sold in a small gift box, rather than the standard, metallic blue boxes.

The jigsaw, titled Crossing the Ribble, is of 500 pieces and features the superb artwork of GRA (Guild of Railway Artists) member, Stephen Warnes.

Helwith Bridge (spelled incorrectly on the box) is a popular location on the Settle to Carlisle railway line, frequented by photographers. The famous line is  affectionately referred to as 'the long drag'. The 5-arch bridge spans the River Ribble in Upper Ribblesdale around 5 miles from the market town of Settle.

In Stephen Warnes' painting, the Fowler/Stanier rebuilt 'Royal Scot' class, 4-6-0 locomotive No.46113 Cameronian, is pictured passing over Helwith Bridge, in the early 1960's. The mountain in the background, I think, is Pen-y gent (email me if I'm wrong).

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Queen Victoria's Railway Saloon

This post, 6th September 2018,  features a jigsaw puzzle that fits perfectly into the blog title even though it is single railway carriage with no steam engine in sight; but what a carriage.... Titled Queen Victoria's Royal Saloon, the jigsaw is a 500-piece example produced for the National Railway Museum, York, by Country House Treasures. 

By the end of the 19th Century most of the major Railway Companies in the UK had built elaborately decorated carriages for use by the Royal Family. Queen Victoria's London and North Western Railway Saloon was originally built in 1869 as a special pair of coaches, one each for day and night. The cost was £1,800 and Victoria paid £800 of her own money towards the cost. In 1895 the two carriages were rebuilt and merged into a single unit. The jigsaw photograph shows a view of the main interior lounge; all of the colour schemes were chosen by the Queen herself . The L&NWR Saloon was a personal favourite of the Queen and in 1897, was used for her Diamond Jubilee Celebrations. The Saloon became a major exhibit in the National Railway Museum, in 1975. A replica was installed into an exhibition at Ballater Station on Royal Deeside, near Balmoral, in 2008. On the 'Wapedia-Wiki:British Royal Train' website, the purposely constructed Royal Train carriages are listed in chronological order through to our present Queen's Silver Jubilee year, 1977.

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Two Wooden 'Oldies'

Today's post, 28 July 2018, comprises two photos, each showing an old wooden jigsaw puzzle. The reverse side of the first puzzle is also shown. 

The first, of 100 pieces and titled The 'Torbay Express' drawn by King Richard 1st Engine, was made by Cotswood. A quick look on 'The Jigasaurus' website (link on the right), indicates that this company may have been in production from the 1930's. A 'King' class 4-6-0, locomotive, No. 6027 King Richard 1st, is pictured heading the famous express passenger service along the picturesque south west coastline near Dawlish, a favourite location for many railway artists. The artist is not named in the jigsaw picture. The 'King' class of 4-6-0 locomotives, designed by Charles Collett for the Great Western Railway, were the most powerful 4-6-0 locomotives in Britain. The picture on the right is the reverse of the jigsaw and indicates the pattern used by the stack cutter. A number of jigsaws were cut simultaneously in stacks, with the pinholes in each corner showing where they were fastened together. 

This second picture shows a 250-piece wooden jigsaw titled Merchant Taylors SRy, made by the J Salmon Company under the brand name 'Academy'. A producer of both cardboard and wooden puzzles, the J. Salmon Company was a significant player in the jigsaw industry from the 1920's until the 1950's. The 'Schools' class of 4-4-0 locomotives was designed by the Southern Railway's Chief Mechanical Engineer, Richard Mounsell. They proved to be Europe's most powerful 4-4-0 locomotives and were named after English Public Schools; No.910 Merchant Taylors, was one of 40. The artwork is from the famous 'F. Moore' stable. There was never an artist by this name; a number of artists worked under the 'F. Moore' name, owned by the Locomotive Publishing Company. Thomas Rudd was the most prominent artist but others such as Murray Secretan and Robert Bernard Way were also likely contributors.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Railway Poster Collection

In today's post, 9th July 2018, I am showing two photographs of jigsaws, each featuring a railway poster. The original artwork in both was by Terence Cuneo, two of many railway paintings used by British Railways in this way; many of them by Cuneo. 

Cuneo’s first for BR was produced c1947 (ready for 1948) titled Giants Refreshed. Another fine Cuneo poster c1951 was Forging Ahead, included in the Falcon 500-piece jigsaw Old Advertisements – Transportation, a composite of railway posters and advertisements. Other Cuneo posters for BR include Royal Border Bridge (1946), Talyllyn Railway, (1960’s) and Clapham Junction (1962). From foundation in 1948, British Railways (BR) commissioned a large number of posters. Some posters from Cuneo originals, when appearing at recent auctions, have realised thousands of pounds. 

Scotland For Your Holidays, is a Cuneo poster from 1952. It has been reproduced as a 1000-piece jigsaw by This England Publishing Ltd., as part of The Railway Poster Collection. Oddly, the poster features a Scottish icon - The Forth Railway Bridge, spanning the Firth of Forth. To paint this picture Cuneo was perched on a girder, battered by 50mph gales though wearing many layers of clothing, and frozen to the bone. He survived this ordeal and later, converted his sketches into this marvellous painting. The express train is headed by Gresley 'A4' class 4-6-2 No.60031 Golden PloverThe horizontal direction of the exhaust  is evidence of the gales.

The Royal Albert Bridge Saltash is another superb Cuneo poster from 1959, produced for the Western Region of BR. This poster has also been reproduced as a jigsaw by This England  as part of the same  series. The poster was produced to commemorate the Centenary of the famous Brunel-built bridge. Cuneo tried engine cab rides and bridge walks before finding the ideal spot for his painting. A 'Castle' class 4-6-0 locomotive is depicted heading a passenger service over the single line bridge. 

Monday, 25 June 2018

Current puzzles from W. H. Smith and Gibsons

Today's post, 25th June 2018, comprises two current 500-piece jigsaws from well known manufacturers.

The first (left) is titled The School Outing from Gibsons replicating the artwork of Derek Roberts. The picture features a group of school children, boys and girls, dressed in vivid green uniforms. .What appears to be an ex GWR 'Manor' class 4-6-0 locomotive, No.7811 Dunley Manor, in unusual red livery, is  receiving an overhaul in a railway maintenance department. The schoolchildren are unaware of the foreground newspaper carrying the headline 'Beechings Axe' and 'Steam to Go'. The paper dates the scene to 1963, the date of the report by Dr Richard Beeching titled  the' Reshaping of British Railways'. 
Can anyone add information on the scene and an ex GWR loco in red livery? (email address above)

The second puzzle (right) from W. H. Smith, is simply titled Steam Train Station, and appears to be a copy of a photograph, with some added effects, from Nigel Chilvers, Advocate-Art. The scene is a station with a short train, headed by an ex GWR 'Castle' class 4-6-0 locomotive, just arriving (?) to pick up passengers or leaving (?) having disembarked passengers. Some people  are dressed in period costume  hinting at a special 'Step Back in Time' day on a Heritage Railway. The locomotive, No.5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe, is possibly the most reliable and frequently seen preserved  locomotive of recent years. Is that a diesel locomotive at the rear of the train? A porter with an old trunk, other station staff, added smoke and steam, and a few birds add interest to the scene.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Canny Minds Trio

Today's post, 17th May 2018, features a new (I think) player in the steam train jigsaw market, Canny Minds Ltd., of Cheltenham. Nicholas Trudgian famous for his landscape and aviation paintings and less so for steam trains, is the chosen artist. The result - three paintings transformed into superb, 1000-piece jigsaws.

First up is a jigsaw titled Seaside Excursion. Ex GWR 2-6-2 Prairie Tank, No.4559, is pictured with a short passenger train passing alongside the East Looe river. The train, packed with holidaymakers, is destined for the golden sands and fishing harbour of the picturesque Cornish town of Looe. The train is heading along the single line branch from Liskeard. Nicholas has painted a scene from 1959.

The next puzzle is titled Full Steam Ahead. In the picture BR Western Region  4-6-0, No.5073 Totnes Castle, complete with 'The Cornishman' headboard, is heading the express passenger train over Stanway Viaduct near Toddington. The Cotswold Hills form a picturesque backdrop as the train steams from Penzance to Wolverhampton.

The third jigsaw is titled The Glory of Steam and features what was designed to be the epitome of British steam, giant locomotive No.71000 Duke of Gloucester. The locomotive didn't live up to the 'hype' alas; it was troubled with setbacks. Again, set in BR days (c1955) in the artwork, 'The Duke' is shown heading the down 'Mid Day Scot' through the spectacular Lune Gorge towards its destination - London Euston. 'The Duke' is currently based at Tyseley undergoing a massive overhaul; mainline representation is the goal, possibly in 2019.