If you wish to communicate with me about steam trains and related railway art, or to respond to requests for answers to my queries, please email David, at :

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

A puzzle from New Zealand.

Todays puzzle, 24 November 2020, is an example from New Zealand jigsaw company, Holdson. It is part of a four part series titled Age of Steam II. The series duplcates the artwork of four artists and three, with their puzzles, have already been described in previous posts on the blog. The three are British artists. The fourth is Cliff Norton - if anyone has any biographical details about this artist please let me know and I will include them in this post, retrospectively. Age of Steam I also comprised four jigsaws and all were by UK artists who have featured on the blog.
In Norton’s excellent artwork, a ‘6800’ class 4-6-0 locomotive of British Railways Western Region, is hauling chocolate and cream carriages through a small, unidentified station. Six people and a policeman stand on the main platform. An ornate footbridge, a water crane, an empty porter’s trolley and a small signal box are included in the composition. The jigsaw is one of a small number that show this class of locomotive, previously designed by Charles Collett for the GWR, between 1936 and 1939. There were eighty in the class of mixed traffic (MT) locomotives. The locomotive in the picture is No.6826, Nannerth Grange. The jigsaw is made in New Zealand by Thos' Holdsworth & Sons.

Thursday, 12 November 2020

A Hawkins' jigsaw and a Flying Scotsman CD

Today's post, 12th November 2020, describes a Canny Minds' combined production of a jigsaw puzzle and a CD. Philip Hawkins painting of the Winter Scotsman is the artwork chosen for the 1000-piece jigsaw, and what a superb choice it is. Both the CD and jigsaw puzzle, issued in 2017, share the title of 'The Flying Scotsman' on the semi-circular, tubular box.
A Peppercorn ‘A1’ class 4-6-2 locomotive No. 60156 Great Central, having left Glasgow, Edinburgh and Newcastle, is steaming towards Kings Cross with 'The Flying Scotsman' express passenger train. The location is York Station, c 1959. A light covering of snow on the track affords a wintery feel to the jigsaw. A second locomotive, a Raven/Thompson class B16/3 4-6-0, No.61463, is pictured stationary, heading another passenger service on the right of Philip’s superb composition.

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Steam versus Diesels

Today's post, 22nd October 2020, describes two jigsaws each featuring steam and diesel locomotion.
TOP - The Flying Scotsman, a 320-piece 'Popular' jigsaw by Tower Press (5th Series), features a Gresley ‘Pacific’ steam locomotive beside a diesel equivalent, both heading passenger trains in a station setting. The diesel, a class ‘55’ (Deltic type) No.D9020, Nimbus, dominates the scene. The latter was one of a class of 22 built in 1961/62 by English Electric, at the Vulcan Foundry, Newton-le-Willows. The title invites you to think that the steam locomotive is heading the famous express. Wrong. The diesel locomotive carries the headboard ‘The Flying Scotsman’. The two locomotives, representing the past and the immediate future of British Railways, invite the viewer to reflect. In the illustrative artwork (artist’s name not known) a maintenance group of four is pictured bottom left, lifting a railway sleeper. BOTTOM - This 240-piece puzzle from Trojan, via Topsail Productions, is titled Express Freight. Pictured is a ‘Co-Bo’ (a bogie with 3 axles and a bogie with 2 axles) class 28 diesel locomotive heading the ‘Condor’, a fast, over-night freight service. A mainline, LNER steam locomotive is included in the artwork but relegated to the edge of the picture. Introduced in 1958, the class 28’s were selected for the London, Hendon – Glasgow, Gushetfaulds freight express, which began a year later. The diesels double-headed on occasions. The class suffered from continued engine problems however, and as a result, they were replaced in 1960, with class ‘5’ and ‘Jubilee’ class, steam locomotives; all 4-6-0’s. One class 28 example, D5705, survived until 1968 when it was used by BR in the Research Division and later, as a carriage heating unit. It then moved to Peak Rail in Matlock in 1986. It was secured for preservation in 1997 when recruited by the East Lancashire Railway, and remains in restoration at Bury. To the left of the picture is part of a power station and in the background is office blocks. The 'Condor' headboard was quite unique, with a split backplate of two, equal regional colours, maroon and pale blue. The lettering was vertically split in a ‘stencil’ style. Included in the immediate background, is a class 40 (Type4) diesel locomotive (?) heading a passenger service on an elevated line. Both jigsaws are similar in style and brilliant colour, possibly by the same artist?

Thursday, 1 October 2020

The Iconic, Forth Bridge

Today's pair of jigsaw puzzles, 1st October 2020, both feature one of the most famous bridges in the world - the Forth Bridge, spanning the estuary of the River Forth on Scotland's east coast. I am not going into detail about the bridge as this can be found in the previous post of February 7th 2011.
The first picture above, shows a Wentworth wooden jigsaw of variable size (my example is of 250 pieces), simply titled, Forth Bridge. A North British Railway (NBR) steam train is pictured on the bridge from a frontal viewpoint common to photographers and artists. The locomotive at the head of the train appears to be a ‘K’ class 4-4-0 tender locomotive, No.867. The latter designed by William Paton Reid was one of a class of twelve built at Cowlair Works in 1909/1910. Hot coals from the grate illuminate the smoke spiralling above the cab; a sky full of stars enhances the composition. The jigsaw picture is very impressive, but the artist is not named. Wentworth have used a picture, in portrait format, from the Mary Evans Picture Library in the Media Storehouse.
The second picture features a 100-piece Chad Valley wooden jigsaw, duplicating the artwork of Robert Bernard Way. The painting, from a similar viewpoint to the first jigsaw, features a British Railways ‘B1’ class locomotive crossing the bridge heading a passenger service. The jigsaw title is a rather elongated - British Railways: Class B1 61245 “Murray of Elibank” with local train crossing the Forth Bridge. Scottish Region.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

STAR Quality

In today's post, 15 September 2020, I am describing another jigsaw from the Gibsons' large portfolio of steam railway examples. The picture, replicating a Barry Freeman painting, features a 'Star' class locomotive, No.4003 Lode Star. Following withdrawal from British Railways in 1951 the engine was, later, retained for the National Collection in York.
The jigsaw comprises 1000 pieces and is titled, simply, Star Quality. No.4003, Lode star was built at the Swindon Works of the Great Western Railway in 1907, one of George Jackson Churchward's iconic designs. The class of 4-6-0 express engines totalled 73 on completion in 1923. In Barry Freeman's artwork*, No.4003 is passing through Patchway Station (6 miles north-west of Bristol), heading a South Wales-Paddington express passenger service. Included in the composition is a porter handling pigeon baskets - possibly a first for our blog. Also included are a suited gentleman observing the passing train, parcels for delivery and railway infrastructure. *Described in the book 'The Railway Paintings of Barry J. Freeman'.

Friday, 4 September 2020

A First for Hartlepool?

In the 29 June 2020 post I featured a Gibsons' jigsaw replicating a David Noble painting. I included a reference to a second puzzle from Gibsons showing another painting by the same artist. Today's post, 4 September 2020 features that second puzzle - Kestrel at Hartlepool. I think it is the first time on the blog for Hartlepool Station.
It is a 500-piece puzzle. A passenger service is heading out of Hartlepool Station headed by a Peppercorn 'A1' class 4-6-2 locomotive, No.60130, Kestrel. The painting is set in the early 1960's and a covering of snow adds to the ambience of the winter scene. A second locomotive, a Gresley 'V1' class 2-6-2T, No.67630, is positioned on an adjacent line, to the right. In the background is a third unidentified locomotive.

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

The Scottish Expresses

Today's post, 19 August 2020,  features another similar wooden jigsaw to the example posted on October 19th 2019, both from the A.V. N. Jones company. The title of this 300-piece puzzle is The Scottish Expresses.

The hand-cut jigsaw depicts two major Expresses operating between Scotland and England - the Royal Scot on the left and the Flying Scotsman travelling in the opposite direction, on the adjacent line. Edinburgh Castle lurks mysteriously in the backgound with what appears to be the fascade of an elegant, old building (National Museum?) beneath. Both expresses appear to be passing at great speed. The location is just outside Edinburgh Waverley Station.This excellent puzzle is copied from an equally superb illustrative painting by Bryan de Grineau, originally published in The Illustrated London News in 1939. 

Of interest - the price for a Jones wooden jigsaw of 250 pieces in 1931 was 8s/6d (42.5p). 

Thursday, 30 July 2020

A British Railways' Standard locomotive

Today's puzzle features a photograph of a British Railways 'Standard' class 4MT (mixed traffic) 4-6-0 locomotive, No.75027. The jigsaw is from the JR Puzzles (Stockport) stable, later marketed by JHG Puzzles of Ashmore, Dorset.

The location for the locomotive, heading Southern Railway passenger coaches, is the Bluebell Railway, the UK's first standard gauge, preserved railway. No.75027 was built in 1953/54 at Swindon Works and was based on BR's Western Region  for several years. She was withdrawn from service in August 1968 and purchased by a member of the Bluebell Railway. The owner then became a generous donor of the engine to the railway.  No.75027, is currently on static display at the railway, awaiting overhaul. The jigsaw, titled Standard Class 4,  is a 1000-piece example and part of the Steam Trains series

Following nationalisation in 1948, British Railways decided to build a fleet of different locomotive classes based on a simple design principle, incorporating features from all 4 previous railway companies. They were all classed as 'Standards'. The designs were overseen by Robert Riddles from 1951, and goals were affordable cost and easy maintenance. 

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Halstead on the map

Malcolm Root has certainly flown the flag for his native Halstead and his local railway, the Colne Valley Railway. Several of his paintings have been based on his own patch and used also, by jigsaw companies. To be honest, I purchased this jigsaw many years ago, but having completed it I gave it to charity, having thought I had already described it on my blog.  The search bar revealed, not so. So I've replaced the jigsaw again, completed it again, and this time here it is, 15 July 2020, as the 'forgotten' post. Titled Steam Train at Halstead, the puzzle is a 1000-piece example from King. In Malcolm's book, Malcolm Root's Railway Paintings, the painting is titled The Level Crossing, Halstead.

Pictured is a wholesome railway scene with a passenger train passing a signal box and about to cross a level crossing. A high level signal is cut off in the jigsaw. The locomotive is an Ivatt 2-6-0 class 2MT (mixed traffic) type, No.46466, introduced onto the London Midland & Scottish Railway  - known as the LMS or less affectionately as the 'ell of a mess' - in 1946, two years before the birth of British Railways. It was withdrawn from service in 1962. The car to the right is an early 1950's Ford Prefect; the background shows part of the station canopy and Malcolm's home town. The sun reflecting from the side of the locomotive is particularly eye catching; in my trainspotting days this was known as the 'glinting effect' and the locomotive or train as a 'glinter'. 

Monday, 29 June 2020

The Gibsons' G.R.A. connection

The strong connection between the Guild of Railway Artists (GRA) and jigsaw company Gibsons, continues into 2020. G.R.A. artists including Fellows Philip Hawkins, John Austin, Malcolm Root and Terence Cuneo (deceased), and Members Eric Bottomley, Barry Freeman (deceased), Gerald Savine and Stephen Warnes, among others, have jigsaws to their name. David Noble is now added to this formidable list. The latter currently has two 2020 additions to the Gibsons' railway portfolio and I will use both on my blog. 

Today's post, 29 June 2020, features one of the David Noble jigsaws titled Pickering Station, a 1000-piece example.

The railway in the painting is owned by the The North Yorkshire Moors Historical Railway Trust Ltd. which began as the NYMR Preservation Society in 1967. The railway was opened in 1973, following completion of the purchase of the line a year earlier. Pickering Station is the starting point of the NYMR; at 18 miles long running through Levisham and Goathland to Grosmont it is the third longest preserved railway in England. Additional services to the seaside town of Whitby were introduced in 2007.   

The locomotive in David's painting is ex LMS class 5MT (mixed traffic) 4-6-0, No.45407 The Lancashire Fuslier. The locomotive was built in 1937 by Armstrong Whitworth of Newcastle and is owned by the Riley Engineering Company, Riley & Son. In the picture, many enthusiasts are attracted to the train about to leave for Grosmont and a worker adjusts the position of a smokebox door lamp. Following Heritage Lottery Funding, the station was renovated between 2000 and 2011 and a new roof installed. The new roof can be seen clearly, in David's painting.