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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. 

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Another from Wentworth and Philip Hawkins

This post, 11 April 2018, describes the latest, Wentworth steam railway jigsaw puzzle, titled On Time. The wooden, laser cut puzzle is of Wentworth's superb quality; railway related 'whimsies' are included among the 250 pieces.  Larger puzzles are available. Click on the picture to increase its size, and see if you can spot the specially cut pieces, or 'whimsies'. Previous collaborations between Wentworth and Philip Hawkins resulted in equally superb puzzles Holiday Time at Snow Hill**, Winter Blizzard and Roaring Through Retford.

** Still available - check the Wentworth website. Also type Winter Blizzard in the search bar to the right and my previous post including this puzzle (one of my all time favourite steam railway jigsaws) will appear.

The artist is Philip Hawkins, a Fellow of the Guild of Railway Artists who is recognised globally, as an artist at the top of his profession. Philip's original painting, a commission from the Birmingham Post and Echo, commemorated the 150th Anniversary of the Great Western Railway (GWR) in 1985. According to Philip's book, Tracks on Canvas, his painting was based on the London Paddington platform (No.7) at Birmingham Snow Hill Station, in 1947. The station was a very important 'hub' on the GWR network. The famous Craven 'A' clock was included plus two other important components - the small boy in the foreground is Philip's son Ben and the station master in the centre is based on the incumbent at the time, Arthur Hammond Emsden. The train waiting in the station is the noon  service to Paddington; just 5 minutes to go according to the clock.

Small but important additions to the base composition is a small girl attracted to the young fireman resting at the engine cab window, an elderly lady searching for her ticket, aided by the station master, and other passengers in various poses.

From the steam railway perspective,  the locomotive in the picture is the giant 'King' class 4-6-0, No.6008 King James II,  built in 1928 at Swindon Works, and designed by Charles Collett. The engine was withdrawn from service in 1962.

It is interesting to note that the year (1947) chosen by Philip for his artwork is the year previous to the Nationalisation of the Railways.

Follow this link to the Wentworth site for the On Time jigsaw....

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Two Vertical Jigsaw Puzzles

Today's post, 29 March 2018, features two jigsaws produced by the same company but under different  names.

The first picture shows a 600-piece jigsaw from Sovereign Publications  (Cambridgeshire; est. c1983), in the vertical format, and titled MR 0-6-0 No.43924. The Fowler, 0-6-0 tender locomotive was built for the Midland Railway at Derby Works in 1920. Her claim to fame is that she was the first, of  over 200 locomotives, to be rescued from the famous Barry Scrapyard, in 1968. She was purchased from the original group of enthusiasts by the  Keighley & Worth Valley Railway in 1990. Following a huge overhaul in 2011, she has been a regular performer on the railway. The photographer is not named.

The second picture features a 750-piece jigsaw in the vertical format, from Moat House Products (Cambridgeshire; est c1995). Both jigsaws and boxes show incredible similarities, not surprising as they were from the same company - just different names. This puzzle is titled Ivatt class 2, 2-6-0 No.46443. The locomotive was built by BR at Crewe in 1950, and finally purchased by the Severn Valley Railway in 1972, two years after appearing at the SVR Opening Event. She is currently awaiting overhaul in the Engine House at Highley. The jigsaw picture shows the Oldbury Viaduct and Daniels Mill, one of the scenic views from the SVR. The photographer is not named.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Latest from Wentworth

A recent steam railway puzzle from Wentworth is the subject of today's post, 12 March 2018. A 250-piece, laser-cut, wooden example (available in larger sizes), the jigsaw features a superb painting by John Austin, one of the very best of British railway artists. John is a Fellow of the Guild of Railway Artists and has won 20 of the last 21, annual members' competitions. That's how good he is.

The title is The 50th Anniversary of the Severn Valley Railway. The largest Gala of the Anniversary Year 2015, was a four-day event staged in September. The jigsaw is enhanced by several, intricately cut, railway-related whimsies merged into the puzzle. I have included 12 of the whimsies in a separate picture - see if you can spot them in the jigsaw. If you wish to see more of John's jigsaw work, or of Wentworth puzzles, just use the search bar above, right.

This 'SVR 50th Anniversary' jigsaw can be found directly through this link -

The first meeting of enthusiasts to re-open the railway (closed in April 1963), was held at  The Coopers Arms in Kidderminster on July 6th 1965. The railway now runs from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster and is around 16 miles long.

John appears to have re-created a scene from 1969 involving a line up of 4 locomotives at Bridgnorth Station. The locos were (l to r)...

Ex BR Ivatt class '2MT' 2-6-0, No.46443, built at Crewe in 1950 and owned by the 'SVR 26443 Fund'. She is out of service at the current time, awaiting overhaul. Known locally as 'The People's Engine'.

Ex GWR class '2251' 0-6-0 tender locomotive, No.3205, built at Swindon in 1946, designed by Charles Collett. She is preserved at the South Devon Railway but currently out of service awaiting overhaul.

Ex BR Ivatt class '4MT' 2-6-0, No.43106, built at Darlington Works in 1951 and owned by the 'Ivatt Class 4 Group'. She is preserved at the SVR and affectionately known as 'The Flying Pig'.

Ex LMS Stanier class '8F' 2-8-0,  No.48773, built in 1940 by the North British Locomotive Company in Glasgow to serve the War Department during WWII. She is based at the SVR but currently in the Engine House at Highley.

The strong diagonal in John's composition lends impact to the picture and the busy railway scene is evidence of his innate understanding of spatial awareness and perspective.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Flying Scotsman and Kevin Walsh

This post, 27 February 2018, features pictures of two current jigsaw puzzles displaying the artwork of Kevin Walsh. His paintings of  Flying Scotsman, train and/or locomotive, have been used by jigsaw manufacturers on several previous occasions; some are described in previous posts on this blog (use the search bar).

The first picture shows a 500-piece puzzle from Gibsons titled Back on Track. It bears some resemblance to previous works by Kevin but the inclusion of a MG M-type Midget adds more  transport interest.  The LNER  'A1' class (later 'A3')  4-6-2 locomotive,  No.4472 Flying Scotsman, is pictured at speed heading the train of the same name. The location is a level crossing with a man and boy (father and son?) watching intently from behind the closed gate. A bright red, Vintage MG sports car, c1930, competes favourably with the locomotive for interest in the picture, and a signal box completes the composition.

A Falcon de luxe jigsaw of 1000 pieces is up next, titled Flying Scotsman at Kings Cross. The locomotive is standing in the London Terminus heading carmine and cream BR coaches as the driver appears to be in conversation with a station official. Prominent in the picture is a family group, a trainspotter, several other passengers and luggage of various types. Milk churns add more interest.  The dog, so common in railway art is replaced with the station cat. Kevin's artwork shows the locomotive with the number 60103,  acquired after nationalisation (as British Railways) in 1948. Previous numbers were 502 followed by 103, both in 1946. The German-style smoke deflectors were added c1960. The blue headboard was used from c1950 - the two discs each bearing the emblem of Scotland (thistle), and England (rose).*

The sequence of numbers carried by Flying Scotsman over the years was as follows -  1472 (1923); 4472 (1924); 502 (Jan 1946); 103 (May 1946); 60103 (1948).

* From Dave Peel's brilliant book,  Locomotive Headboards - The Complete Story.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Artist Trevor Mitchell.

In this post, 30 January 2018, I am featuring three jigsaws, each promoting the artwork of Trevor Mitchell. The artist, who began his trade at Bradford Art College, has come to the forefront in steam railway jigsaw artwork in recent years, as the genre becomes more popular with manufacturers. Currently in my inventory of 450+ steam railway jigsaws, the artwork in approximately twenty of them, is accredited to Trevor Mitchell.  At least seven manufacturers use his illustrative style, including the three detailed below.

This picture shows the 1000-piece jigsaw from W. H. Smith titled Parcel for Canal Cottage. The painting is very busy with at least four modes of transport integrated into a rural scene. A parcel is being delivered to a thatched cottage by a postman; his Morris 'Z' chassis van - produced 1940-1953 - is parked beside him. The model of van helps to date the scene. An 0-6-0 pannier tank of the Great Western Railway is pictured in the background, shunting a few wagons and a toad van, on a branch line or siding. In between is a family group navigating a narrowboat along a canal.  A pair of bicycle riders, man and woman, on the canalside path, complete the transport foursome. Other cottages, trees, fields and ducks complete an idyllic scene.

The second jigsaw featuring Trevor's artwork is a House of Puzzles example titled Passing By. This composition also uses a train, a canal boat and a cyclist to advantage but this time the train is transporting the Royal Mail, at this preliminary stage. The nets, used to snatch the parcels from lineside posts, are clearly visible on the sides of the coaches. An LMS Stanier* 'Black V' class 4-6-0 locomotive, No.5278, heads the mail train as it traverses a canal bridge. A working canal boat with driver and dog, travel sedately along the canal beneath, towards a lock appearing in the background. On a canalside towpath, a male cyclist and his dog acknowledge their counterparts on the canal boat.  

The third jigsaw shows a 500-piece jigsaw titled Full Steam Ahead. The superb wooden jigsaw is made by Wentworth and includes the legendary 'whimsies'. Pictured leaving a main line station is another LMS Stanier* 'Black V' class 4-6-0 locomotive, No.5424,  heading a passenger service. A LNER locomotive in 'Apple Green' livery is pictured nearby as a permanent way foreman, with a red flag, looks on attentively. To the left of the picture is an example of a famous Gresley* 'Teak' coach. The station name is not shown but it must be a mixed region example, as both LMS and LNER locomotives are pictured together.

* Sir William Stanier and Sir Nigel Gresley were brilliant chief mechanical engineers of the London Midland Scottish railway (LMS) and London and North Eastern Railway (LNER), respectively.

Friday, 22 December 2017

Two from House of Puzzles

Todays' post, 22nd December 2017, comprises two photographs of jigsaws made by Scottish manufacturer, House of Puzzles (HoP). House of Puzzles is one of my favourite manufacturers as puzzles are superbly printed, made of strong card and include unique shapes integrated into their puzzle pieces. Please note the change of email address above.

On the left is a 250-piece jigsaw from the HoP, Isla Collection, featuring large pieces. Titled Steaming Along, the illustrative style artwork is by Susan M. Ridyard. It is a beautifully simple composition showing Oxenhope Station, busy with visitors at Christmas time. Oxenhope is near Haworth, famous as the birthplace of the Bronte sisters. It is the terminus of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway which runs along the valley from Oxenhope to Haworth and on to Keighley. 

The Ivatt 2-6-2 locomotive, No.41241 in the jigsaw picture - ex LMS (London Midland & Scottish Railway) - is currently under restoration at the K&WVR. It is part of a busy, pictorial scene including passengers, railway staff, driver and fireman, and several local children playing in the snow, nearby.

On the right is a 1000-piece HoP jigsaw which couldn't be more different than Steaming AlongGrow Your Own is an extremely detailed composition by Michael Herring comprising all sorts of gardening infrastructure and paraphernalia found on an allotment." Lots of good healthy things to eat come from Grandad's allotment", according to the legend on the box. Grandad is included in the picture along with two of his grandchildren and the obligatory dog. In the background on a branch line, an 0-6-0 'Jinty' tank engine is passing, heading two small suburban coaches; the driver is looking out of his cab at the scene below as he approaches a signal box. The allotment shed hosts a plaque showing the plot number, 27, and lots of equipment including refreshments for tea breaks. A  Ministry of Agriculture, 'Dig for Victory' poster, is pasted to the inside of the shed door dating the picture to the World War II period.

May I wish all supporters/viewers of my blog a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year. 

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Two Current Jigsaws

Today's post, 15 November 2017,  comprises two photographs of jigsaw puzzles, currently available from two of our more prominent manufacturers.

The first example depicts a jigsaw from the Gibsons 'Panoramic' 636-piece series.  Titled Glenfinnan Viaduct, the artwork is by the famous transport artist Mike Jeffries. Featured in a panoramic vista is the first  mass concrete viaduct built anywhere in the world. Completed in 1898 and opened three years later, the viaduct stands at over 100ft in height and comprises 21 arches; it is just short of 1/4 mile in length. The builder was Sir Robert McAlpine, better known as 'Concrete Bob'.

 In Mike's painting, a Gresley 'K4' class 2-6-0 locomotive is shown heading a passenger service (possibly 'The Jacobite') over the single line viaduct on the West Highland Line between Fort William and Mallaig; Loch Shiel provides a superb backdrop.  The 'K4' class of 'Moguls' was built between 1937 and 1939, to combat the steep gradients and tight curves on this exquisitely, pictorial line.

The viaduct has featured in four (?) Harry Potter films.

The second jigsaw featured is a House of Puzzles example within the Laurel Collection. It is one of several, 250-piece jigsaws comprising large pieces, made for anyone, but for the visually impaired, in particular. The title of this 250-piece puzzle is A Grand Day Out and the artwork is by Susan and John Ridyard.

The location is Hawarth Station on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, Yorkshire. The station is very busy with passengers, mainly visitors to Bronte country, and Hawarth in particular.  Judging by the casual summer dress for the visitors the artwork is set in late summer; a passenger train idles in the station. Some passengers have left the train as others are embarking, possibly on the return journey to Keighley.

 The train is headed by an ex Southern Railway 'Light Pacific' (4-6-2) locomotive designed by Oliver Bulleid, No.34092 Wells. The latter was built in BR days in 1949 as part of the 'West Country' class, and originally named Wells, but re-named City of Wells in the following year. After retirement from BR, she was restored to former glory over a twenty-five year period 1989-2014, finally rejoining the K&WVR on August 16th 2014. She began her latest duties named Wells, her original name.

If you are interested in buying any of my puzzles you have previously seen on this blog I am continuing the process of downsizing my collection and some of my 230 puzzles must go. Many have already been sold privately, or on Ebay. Let me know if you are interested, by email (changed email address directly above).

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Chad Valley (?) Child's Jigsaw

I've been meaning to post this puzzle for quite a while now so today, 4th October 2017, here it is.

I know little about this puzzle but something about it suggests the manufacturer was  Chad Valley. The title is also unknown as it appeared on Ebay as an untitled, unboxed and unattributed puzzle. It is however a delightful, wooden jigsaw of around 70 pieces, made obviously, with children in mind. The boy and girl are carrying a locomotive and a doll, respectively, and a suitcase is partly visible in the foreground. They are chatting to the engine driver. There is much more information pictorialised in this puzzle for inquisitive minds. A porter is lining up milk churns; another train is approaching from the right; a signal box is clearly shown and a large signal gantry completes a busy composition.
The locomotive in the picture is ex Southern Railway 4-6-0 No.30859, Lord Hood, one of Richard Maunsell's 'Lord Nelson' class, built between 1928 and 1929. This particular locomotive, No.30859, was built in March 1929.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Two from Clementoni

Today's post, 10th August 2017, features two jigsaw puzzles from the Italian company, Clementoni - the first time on the blog for this manufacturer.

First up is a 1000-piece puzzle titled The Great Marquess. 'K4' class 2-6-0 No.3442 (BR No.61994) was designed by (Sir) Nigel Gresley and built in 1938, especially to run on the Scottish West Highland Line. She is now preserved and owned by the Scottish farmer, John Cameron, who also owns 'A4' class 4-6-2, No.60009 Union of South Africa.  The 'K4' class of 6 was built at Darlington Works between 1937 and 1939.

The second photograph shows the 500-piece jigsaw titled Ffestiniog. The narrow-gauge, Ffestiniog Railway in Wales is described in detail in the previous post of 20th May 2014. The locomotive in the jigsaw photograph was built as a 0-4-0ST (saddle tank) design in 1893, by the Hunslet Engine Company of Leeds, for use on the Penrhyn Quarry Railway.  She was  hired by the FR in 1962 and purchased a year later.  She later ran with a tender attached as a 0-4-0 STT (saddle tank tender) and from 1970, as a 2-4-0 STT, re-built locomotive.

If you are interested in buying any of the puzzles you have previously seen on this blog* I am continuing the process of downsizing my collection and some of my 250 puzzles must go. Many have been sold privately, or on Ebay. Let me know of any you may be interested in by email (address directly above).

*Does not include the privately marketed, James Green puzzle, described in the previous post.