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

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Scottish Locomotives

Somewhat neglected in the steam railway jigsaw market are those examples depicting locomotives representing the superb Scottish railway companies - The Caledonian Railway, The Highland Railway, The Glasgow and South Western Railway and the North British Railway for example. Two such jigsaws in my collection are titled Caledonian Railway 123 at Carstairs and Clan Fraser - LMS.
The first is a fine 400-piece jigsaw from the Rail Journey series by KG Games. Featured is the handsome 4-2-2 locomotive, No.123, exhibiting superb engineering qualities complemented by the famous 'Caley blue' livery. The picture appears to be reproduced from a photograph. Designed by Dugald Drummond in 1886 and built by the Glasgow company of Nielson & Co. in around 67 days, CR No.123 achieved immortality during the summer 'Races to the North' between East and West Coast Railway Companies, in 1888. In the races, she ran the final Carlisle - Edinburgh leg for the West Coast every day - a fantastic achievement. She has survived into preservation in her native Scotland.

When considering steam railway jigsaw puzzles of the rural setting type, one of my favourites is Clan Fraser - LMS reproduced from an original George Heiron painting. The 300-piece puzzle from the Falcon Steamtrains series depicts the ex-Highland Railway 4-6-0, No.14763 (previously Highland Railway No. 51) designed by Christopher Cumming. The locomotive is shown in her post grouping livery (Midland Red?). The setting is the picturesque Inverness to Perth line.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

'Coronation Scot'

For today's post (23rd October 2010), I am focusing on a special express train, the 'Coronation Scot', as depicted in just three of many jigsaw puzzles.

The first pic shows a puzzle full of impact, Coronation Scot, a 500-piece example from KG Games. The close up view of a streamlined Stanier 'Pacific' locomotive No.6220 Coronation, in blue and silver livery and 3/4 elevation, can be compared/contrasted directly with the expansive trainshed of a huge mainline station. The train wins easily relegating the terminus to a minor role. The artist is not named.

Pic number two shows a picture from the famous railway artist David Weston. I know of only two of David's railway paintings, and they are certainly not his best, that have been reproduced in the jigsaw trade - as half of the 200-piece Steamtrains series by Falcon. The better one, Coronation Scot-LMS, shows a 'Coronation' class 4-6-2, in red (crimson lake) and gold livery, hauling the famous express. The backdrop is heavy industry (blast furnaces?) emitting what appears to be a 'golden glow'. The famous express, subdued lighting and heavy industry combine to make a memorable, but small, jigsaw puzzle.

I must admit that the jigsaw shown in the third and final pic is a bit of an enigma to me. Does it depict the 'Coronation Scot' as sent to the USA for the 1939 World Fair? No.6229 Duchess of Hamilton masqueraded as 6220 Coronation for the trip. Pictorial Publications (Leeds) Ltd., under the Grafton Major label, produced the 400-piece jigsaw titled British Express. A bell and headlamp are clearly shown in the puzzle - American adaptations. However, the locomotive, seven coaches and a first class sleeping car that were sent to America were liveried in crimson lake and gold, not blue and silver as in the puzzle. The name plate is also a long example much like City of xxxxxx  or Duchess of xxxxxxx. So the jigsaw and its title mystifies me. Can anyone shed any light?

Monday, 18 October 2010

Father of Railways

A rather special little puzzle is the subject of today's post (18th October 2010). It celebrates the life of one of the greatest engineers of the railway world, George Stephenson. 
Titled The Father of Railways it is a 48-piece example commemorating this extraordinary man who began working with his father, at Dewley Collliery in north east England, when he was 14. At 19 he was building his first railway at nearby Hetton Colliery. The rest, they say - from locomotives Locomotion No.1 (Stockton & Darlington Railway) to Rocket (Liverpool & Manchester Railway) - is history. Surrounding a central, oval portrait of George Stephenson are the following – his birthplace at Wylam, Northumberland; later residences at a cottage at Killingworth and Tapton House, Chesterfield; a Hetton Colliery locomotive; Locomotion No.1; Sankey Viaduct. Both artist and manufacturer are unknown to me. Although historical in context and highly collectible, this puzzle is extremely small. My copy is in a wrapper, not a box. If anyone has any information about this puzzle please let me know (email address above). In my view, more puzzles should be dedicated to the work of George and Robert Stephenson. This remarkable father and son duo were responsible for much of the civil and mechanical engineering involved in the birth of railways from the early 19th century.

For interest I have also added my pics of Stephenson's statue and plaque which both stand at the National Railway Museum in York - taken in 2009. The former can be seen in the Great Hall, the latter on an outside wall.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Chad Valley 'Cut-Out' Style Jigsaws

For this new post, 13th October 2010, I have chosen to include two photographs of jigsaws, both in the popular 'cut-out' style championed by Chad Valley in the 1920's and 1930's.

The first shows 'King' class 4-6-0, No.6000 King George V. I have this puzzle, in both of the manufactured versions, in my collection - 200 pieces and the more valuable 300 pieces. The jigsaw is simply titled King George V; the artist/photographer is not named. The pic shows the 200-piece puzzle featuring the locomotive, without the commemorative bell presented by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company, following a successful visit, in 1927.

The second pic shows 'Castle' class 4-6-0, No.4073 Caerphilly Castle. This puzzle, titled Speed, is of 150 pieces and shows the locomotive travelling at great speed, in almost front elevation, heading GWR passenger stock. Although the original artwork is in a strong illustrative style, the artist is not named on the jigsaw.

Charles Collett designed both locomotives. The giant 'Kings', sometimes known as 'Super Castles', came into service between 1927 and 1936; all 31 were built at Swindon Works. The 'Castles, one of the most successful locomotive designs of all time, came into service between 1923 and 1950; 171 were built, all at Swindon Works.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Exeter and Birmingham

The two puzzles in this latest post (2nd October 2010) show GWR stations, Exeter St Davids and Birmingham Snow Hill, as superb backdrops.

Exeter St Davids, a 1000-piece puzzle in Gibson's Heritage series, is reproduced from a Chris Woods' painting. Converted 'Star' class 4-6-0 locomotive No.4056 Princess Margaret is pictured reversing onto 'Castle' class 4-6-0 No.7029 Clun Castle to double head a passenger train to Plymouth. The 'Star' class locomotives were designed by G. J. Churchward. Clun Castle is preserved at Tyseley Locomotive Works in Birmingham. Beside these fine GWR locomotives, gas turbine locomotive No. 18100 races through the station heading another passenger train. This locomotive was actually ordered by the GWR in the 1940's but delayed by World War II. It was withdrawn from service in 1958 and was converted shortly afterwards to the prototype electric locomotive E1000. Renumbered again in 1959 to E2001, the locomotive was finally withdrawn from service in1968.

Birmingham Snow Hill Station is featured in a jigsaw from W. H. Smith titled, rather oddly, Brockhouse Station. The original painting is by John Austin who told me that the publishing company that supplied his artwork for jigsaw manufacture misinterpreted advertising signs at the station (clearly seen in the jigsaw picture) as the station name, hence the wrong jigsaw title. Two of Charles Collett's finest are depicted, a 'King' class 4-6-0 locomotive* travelling into the station whilst another, 'Castle' class 4-6-0 No.5072 Hurricane, waits in a nearby platform. Both locomotives are heading GWR chocolate and cream passenger stock.
Young trainspotters, clearly seen on the foremost platform in each puzzle, are an integral component of both.

*Thanks to Glyn Roberts for this information