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Tuesday, 12 January 2021

A Busy Day at Dulverton

Our first post of 2021, 12th January, takes us to Dulverton Station, nearing closure in the time of 'Beeching's Axe'.
The picture features a 1000-piece jigsaw from JHG Jigsaws of Ashmore, Dorset, titled Busy Day at Dulverton. The era associated with Peter Webster's artwork is probably around, or just prior to, the publication of the 1963 Beeching Report titled 'The Reshaping of British Railways'. The latter led to the closure of many unprofitable lines in the UK. Dulverton Station was actually situated 2 miles further south of Dulverton, at Brushford village; it was closed in 1966. In Peter's painting the main locomotive heading a light passenger train is an ex GWR 'Mogul' (2-6-0) type, No.6372, designed by George Jackson Churchwood. She was built in 1921 at Swindon Works and withdrawn in 1963. A year later she was scrapped and in the painting appears to be in a worse-for-wear, unloved condition. The short freight train exiting the station on the left is headed by a pannier tank 0-6-0 locomotive, but no id' is possible. Two station staff are present with a few passengers. In the yard outside are a single decked bus and a car, both of the time period depicted. In typical Webster style, an eyecatching, rural landscape is included as the backdrop.

Monday, 28 December 2020

Flying Scotsman

Todays post (28th December), the final post of 2020, depicts a jigsaw puzzle from Gibsons titled Flying Scotsman.
The jigsaw, of 1000 pieces, is a montage of a central picture of the Flying Scotsman locomotive and train, surrounded by ten pictures of vertical, LNER posters. The four outer posters advertise "golf courses", "restaurant cars", "The Worlds Most Famous Train 1862-1930"; the fourth is titled "Improve Each Shining Hour". Each one of the four posters is split diagonally into two pictures. Captions "Then" (above a picture) and "Now" (below the second picture) in each poster, relate to the improvement between past and present train services. The other six posters completely surround the central picture and advertise departure time from Kings Cross, intermediate stations between London and Edinburgh, the cocktail bar, season tickets, passenger coach comfort, and general information on development of the train. The central picture of the locomotive and train is, i'm sure, by Mike Jefferies. For more information about this special train, go to the post of 28th June, 2011. As 2021 approaches quickly, may I wish all of my viewers/readers of the blog, a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year: and a million thanks for supporting the blog.

Monday, 7 December 2020

Stanier's Finest

Today's post, 7th December 2020, compares two paintings, duplicated as jigsaw puzzles by The Works and Marks and Spencers, respectively. Although not known as mainstream producers or sellers of jigsaws, both companies have come up trumps with the two artists chosen, Malcolm Root and Nicolas Trudgian. In my opinion, even though I was a GWR or BR Western Region (BRW) fanatic as a boy, the 'Princess Coronation' class of 4-6-2 locomotives designed by Sir William Stanier for the LMS, was my favourite class. I travelled to Shewsbury, Wolverhampton Low Level and Birmingham Snow Hill Stations in search of BR Western Region locomotives and visited the sheds of the first two, on a regular basis. But the short trip to Wigan North Western Station was where I grew to love those fast, huge and powerful locomotives known as 'semis' to us spotters, even though a true 'semi' was really a locomotive with a slightly flatter, smokebox top at the front, required to fit the air smoothed casing, previously in place.
The first jigsaw (top) featuring the Malcolm Root painting is a 1000-piece example from The Works, titled Crowning Glory although on the website of the Guild of Railway Artists it is titled Coronation Scot. The huge Stanier 'Semi', 'Coronation' class 4-6-2 No.46220, is heading the down 'Royal Scot' express in BR days, c1950, through a picturesque location somewhere on the northern, West Coast Main Line. The locomotive named Coronation looks superb in BR express passenger blue livery as she storms along with a long rake of BR carmine and cream coaches behind. The glorious weather adds extra impact to the painting which radiates the power and majesty associated with the locomotive class. No.6220 was the first of the class to be fitted with streamlined casing in blue and white. Below is an equally superb painting by Nicolas Trudgian, marketed by Marks and Spencer in the form of a 1000-piece jigsaw. The puzzle was sold with a CD titled The Glory Days of British Steam. The title of Nicolas's painting is Crimson Evening and featured is the Stanier 4-6-2 locomotive No.6233, Duchess of Sutherland. The train is pictured rounding the curve at Greenholme, on the steep gradient leading up to Shap summit, on the West Coast Main Line. The train is on its way to Glasgow from London Euston. The snow covered Pennines, near Tebay, provide a grand setting for the train - the LMS red liveried engine is matched with a long rake of LMS liveried coaches for a perfectly balanced picture. The sun, 'glinting' from the side of the train, adds more pictorial excellence.

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 duplicates 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.
ABOVE - 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. BELOW - 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 are 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).