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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 She was withdrawn from service in August 1968 and purchased by a member of the Bluebell Railway.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 It was withdrawn from service in 1962.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.

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Ravensburger Heritage Series No.2

This post, 18 June 2020, concentrates on the second of the Ravensburger Heritage Series of paired steam railway jigsaw puzzles. The first was described in the post of 22 April 2020. The Bluebell Railway (BR) and the Severn Valley Railway (SVR) are represented in this second pair.

The pic on the left shows the 500-piece puzzle titled Hampton Loade, a station on the SVR. At the head of the passenger train entering the station is the '2800' class 2-8-0, No.2857. The  locomotive, designed by G.J.Churchwood for the Great Western Railway (GWR), was built at Swindon Locomotive Works in 1918. It was the 69th locomotive to leave the famous Barry Scrapyard in South Wales, in August 1975, destined for the SVR.  In the painting by Trevor Mitchell passengers and onlookers stand on the platforms admiring the oncoming 'reincarnation' of a past era. Children appear fascinated at the possible first sight of a steam engine. A milk churn and various types of luggage and trolleys are integrated into the composition dominated by the station building.

The pic on the right shows the 500-piece jigsaw titled Horsted Keynes, a station on the Bluebell Railway. The latter was the first preserved standard gauge railway in Britain; opened in Sussex in 1960. The two locomotives in Trevor Mitchell's painting are 'P' class 0-6-0T's - No.178 in South East & Chatham Railway (SECR) colours, and No.323 'Bluebell'. The latter loco is on static display currently; No.178 remains in minimal activity, awaiting repairs. Both locomotives were designed for the SECR, c1910, by Harry Wainwright. Human interest is present in this painting with family groups and visitors enjoying close up views of the two engines. Signal gantries, a signal box and a luggage trolley add to the ambience.

Saturday, 30 May 2020

Steam train plus other transport

Today's post, 29 May 2020, features a jigsaw puzzle of 1000 pieces from Dutch manufacturer King. The jigsaw title is Delivery at the Railway Inn.

It is a superb, pictorial puzzle with plenty of transport interest, in addition to the obligatory steam train. On the left, a delivery of beer is the main focus of Trevor Mitchell's artwork, being offloaded by two draymen, from a vintage Foden steam lorry. To the right of the picture is, I think,  a magnificent Jowett 7 Long Tourer* (c1929) vintage car; in between is a small red vintage car but unidentifiable* to yours truly. The Railway Inn is a magnificent thatched building and the steam train is definitely relegated to minimum focus. The locomotive is an 0-6-0T type, No.7829, heading crimson coaches on a country line. I cannot identify the class of locomotive* from the number. An adult couple are leaving the Inn, admiring the transport display as they leave.

I must add that this pictorial jigsaw will impress enthusiasts of many persuations.

*If you can help me with these id's please email me (address at the top of the blog).

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Dovey Junction

Today's post concentrates on a 2004 jigsaw marketed as a Waddingtons' puzzle by American owners, Hasbro Inc. The artwork is by Malcolm Root.

I think Malcolm has been very brave with this painting. Dull, wet weather was never the first choice for artists,  but he has done a first class job in promoting the overall ambience to the viewer. Depicted in British Railways (BR) days, the locomotive at the head of the Cambrian Coast Express is 'Manor' class 4-6-0 No.7820 Dinmore Manor. Because of weight restrictions originating from 1927, small 4-4-0 'Dukedogs' were the selected  locomotives for this famous named train. From 1938, 'Manor' class locomotives were mainly used and other 'light' locos hauled the express in later, BR days. The route was Paddington, Shrewsbury, Aberystwyth and Pwllheli; the train split at Dovey Junction, a section heading south for Aberystwyth and another, north for Pwllheli.

A 'Dukedog' was a hybrid involving the chassis of a 'Bulldog' class locomotive and the boiler of a 'Duke' class locomotive.

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Ravensburger Railway Heritage Series

No.1 in Ravensburger Heritage Series are two 500-piece jigsaws, packed in the same box, and titled Oakworth and Corfe.  This post, 23 April 2020 features both of these puzzles and No.2 in the series, showing another pair of puzzles, will follow in a later post. The illustrative artwork is by Trevor Mitchell.

Oakworth, left, is one of the stations on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway (K&WVR). The locomotive  approaching the platform with a passenger service is ex War Department (W.D.) class '8F' 2-8-0, No.90733. The locomotive has a fascinating history from 1945, when it was built at Vulcan Foundary in Newton-le-Willows. She was sent to the continent to carry out troop and supplies movements then, following the end of the war, ended up in The Netherlands. She was transferred to the Swedish State Railway in 1953, and later held in store until purchased by the K&WVR in 1972. She arrived in 1973 but was withdrawn from service three years later. Repairs began in 1993 leading to a return to active duties in 2007 when she was re-numberd 90733, thus continuing the B.R. numbering system for the class, 9000 - 90732. She was taken out of service in 2017 and is now under overhaul at Haworth. Oakworth Station looks splendid in Trevor's painting with many passengers of all ages waiting for the train to stop.  A luggage trolley, metal adverts and floral displays add to the nostalgic ambience. 

Corfe station, right, on the Swanage Railway, is ideally placed for visits to the famous castle, seen in the background in Trevor's picture. The steam locomotive 0-6-2T, No.6695, was built in 1928, withdrawn from service in 1964, and moved to Barry Scrapyard in the same year. She was transferred to the Swanage Railway in 1979 but was sold to the '6695 Locomotive Group' in 1995. In 2015 she was under overhaul at the West Somerset Railway but was then transferred to the Swindon & Cricklade Railway in 2019 to continue her overhaul. She is depicted waiting in Corfe Station at the head of a rake of Southern Railway (SR) green coaches. The platforms are busy with passengers and visitors. Adjacent to the steam train is a BR class 108 diesel multiple unit (DMU).

Unfortunately these jigsaws are printed in a very light and non-contrasty style and photographing them is difficult.

Friday, 10 April 2020

A Tale of Two Locomotives

Today's jigsaw, 10 April 2020,  is another 'gem' from the House of Puzzles' portfolio of superb steam train examples. It is a 1000 piece puzzle from the Castleford Collection, titled Bringing Them Home. The jigsaw features the ex Great Western Railway (GWR) 'Hall' class 4-6-0 locomotive  No.4965, Rood Ashton Hall, at Arley Station on the Severn Valley Railway (SVR). 

In a modern 're-enactment' scene, World War II Army personnel, men and women, are greeted by friends and relatives, including children, on arriving 'home'. The SVR is one of several Heritage Railways including such retrospective WWII events in their annual programmes. At these special events volunteers wear period dress and uniforms, and other items of period paraphernalia are added to the platforms; items such as milk churns and luggage for instance. A guard standing by the engine and the station master sat outside his office are each pictured with a mug of tea. The station cat is also included in a scene well captured by artist Ray Cresswell. 

The history of this locomotive is very interesting with mischievious exchanges and transfers going on between two locomotives at Swindon Works c1961/62. Basically the locomotive is a hybrid of No.4983 Albert Hall - the 10th locomotive to leave Barry Scrapyard in 1970 - and No.4965 Rood Ashton Hall.  Read the story on

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

The Viaduct

Viaducts are fascinating structures and we are blessed with many examples in the UK, some around 200 years old. Among the more famous are the Ribblehead Viaduct on the Settle-Carlisle Line and the Glenfinnan Viaduct, the UK's first, mass concrete viaduct, on Scotland's West Highland Line. The 82-arch Harringworth Viaduct in England's smallest county, Rutland, is the UK's longest masonry viaduct at 1,166 metres. This post, 17 March 2020 features a jigsaw puzzle of a viaduct painted by Italian artist, Marcello Corti.

It shows a Viaduct with a steam-hauled freight train passing over it and a diesel locomotive beneath, on a line in the bottom corner. Both of these, train and locomotive, appear to be foreign. Also beneath, is another central line on which appears to be a rather obscure 'British' passenger train with a 4-6-0 locomotive (?) at the head. The background could easily be interpreted as a typical British landscape. 

The painting is a bit of a mystery and if anyone can 'throw some light on it' for me, please get in touch - my email address is shown at the top of the blog.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Tangmere 'Hurricanes'

This post, 11 February 2020, features a 500-piece jigsaw from Gibsons titled Tangmere Hurricanes. The jigsaw is marketed in a small  gift box - the artwork is by Nicholas Trudgeon.

Before WWII, 601 Auxilliary Squadron, known initially as the 'Millionaires Squadron' (composed almost entirely of super rich gentlemen) was based at RAF Northolt. However, when the war started in 1940, the Squadron was mobilised from RAF Tangmere, near Chichester in West Sussex. Hawker Hurricanes and Supermarine Spitfires were operated by 601 Squadron.  Pilots engaged the Luftwaffe  from their base by the sea, protecting shipping in the English Channel; hefty casualties were incurred. The famous WWII pilot Wing Commander Douglas Bader was stationed at Tangmere in 1941.

The jigsaw description on the gift box is summarised as follows  - Four Mk1 Hurricanes of 601 Squadron, refuelled and rearmed, climb to re-join the battle during the summer of 1940. Below, life goes on as a Southern Railway train pulls out of a local village station........these renowned aircraft served the RAF in all major theatres of the Second World War.