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 :

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 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.

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.