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, 24 December 2011

A Unique Puzzle

Today's post, 25th December 2011, focuses on a jigsaw of which I am particularly proud. It replicates  one of my brother's photographs taken on 22nd April 2011 at Red Bank, Newton-le-Willows, and is therefore totally unique.

The rail tour in the picture was 'The Great Britain IV' that toured the country over nine days in April 2011. 'Castle' class 4-6-0 locomotive No.5029 Nunney Castle, headed the rail tour on the seventh day from Preston to Bristol. The locomotive was designed by Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Great Western Railway Charles Collett, in 1934, one of a class that eventually numbered one hundred and seventy one. No. 5029 was sent to Barry Scrapyard in 1964 and rescued twelve years later by private buyers in partnership with the Great Western Society. Since the mid 1990's the locomotive has been privately owned, recently by Jeremy Hosking.

The locomotive returned to the main line in 2000 and following overhaul, again in 2008. The only fault with the picture is the phone mast, one of a growing number hated by photographers, almost on a par with electricity pylons.

The jigsaw is a 500-piece example, superbly made by It is produced in thick card and presented in an equally excellent box. There are many such companies producing  jigsaws from digital photographic files and/or photographs - just type 'personal jigsaw puzzles' into your browser.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

An Unusual 'Glow in the Dark' Puzzle

The puzzle pictured in today's post, 18th December 2011, is very unusual (and rare) for two reasons - it features a UK steam railway scene from an American jigsaw manufacturer and it glows in the dark.

The first photograph shows the jigsaw in daylight. It is a picture of a Stanier class '8F' locomotive, 48445, hauling a freight train through a station at dusk or dawn. The period is probably between 1948 and 1956 when the British Railways logo was the 'cycling lion', clearly shown on the tender. The station lights mixed with ambient, residual light result in a memorable picture by British artist Peter Bradshaw. The jigsaw is a 1000-piece example by Empire of Massachusetts.

The second photograph shows the jigsaw in a blackened room after illuminating it for a minimum of twenty minutes with a bright light. Obviously the puzzle attracts more interest at night because of the eeriness that it projects but it is a very interesting puzzle when viewed normally. Station staff and passengers add human interest to a typical railway scene.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Two from Gibsons

Within the theme 'trains in stations' there were many jigsaws to choose from in my collection of over 400 steam railway puzzles and some have already been seen on the blog. Here, 12th December 2011, are photos showing two more.

The world's first underground railway, The Metroploitan Railway, was opened in Januray 1863 and connected Faringdon with Paddington. It was an instant success and carried an average of 26,000 passengers each day in its first six months of operation. The first pic is of a 500-piece puzzle from the Gibson's Heritage Collection featuring artwork by Barry Freeman.  The title is Memories of Metroland. 'E' class 0-4-4 tank engine, No.1, is shown at Quainton Road Station, awaiting the 'right to go',  in the early 1950's. It survived in service until 1963 and is now preserved. Also pictured in the station is a Beyer Peacock 4-4-0 tank engine No.23 and a member of the station staff holding a newspaper while chatting to the engine driver.

The second picture shows a 1000-piece jigsaw from Gibsons titled Summer Outing from a Malcolm Root original canvas. Featured is an open top bus of the 1920's (?) travelling past Witham Station with a full load of passengers. Two Essex towns, Chelmsford and Witham are displayed on the front destination board. Only Malcolm Root knows exactly what is going on in the scene but many people are depicted, some at the side of the road overlooking railings covered with advertisements for Cadburys products. They may be watching a train headed by a superb 4-4-0 'Claud Hamilton' class locomotive of the Great Eastern Railway (GER) exiting the station. Or they may be watching a second locomotive waiting in the nearest platform to the railings. Human interest is increased by the inclusion of a small boy eating a bar of chocolate. Is the summer outing by bus or train or does it include journeys by both? The jigsaw was used by Cadburys as a promotional example.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Two more from Falcon

Today's post, 4th December 2011, features pictures of two, 200-piece jigsaws from the famous Falcon company. They were part of a series of four puzzles titled Steamtrains, each comprising medium sized pieces.

The first picture shows a Great Western Railway (GWR) 'County' class 4-6-0 locomotive designed by Frederick Hawksworth, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the GWR and British Railways (BR) Western Region, from 1941 -1949. The locomotive is No.1000, County of Middlesex, and the artwork is by Paul Gribble. The title of the jigsaw is County of Middlesex (GWR) leaving Temple Meads. The latter station, one of Isambard Kingdom Brunel's famous legacies, is in Bristol.

The second picture shows one of Sir William Stanier's powerful 'Princess Coronation' class of 4-6-2 locomotives. He was the CME of the London, Midland & Scottish Railway from 1932 until 1944 having previously gained experience at the Swindon Works of the GWR. The locomotive pictured is No. 46223 Princess Alice and the title of the jigsaw is Princess Alice - BR Midland Region. The artist is David Weston. This locomotive is also featured in a jigsaw pictured in the post of  22nd May 2011, but in its original streamlined form of 1937.

Monday, 28 November 2011

'Steam Trains and Jigsaw Puzzles' Book

Today's post, 28th November 2011, is dedicated to the book bearing the same name as the blog. I have several copies of the book, first published in 2007, on offer . The two photographs below show two of eight photographic pages, designed in a montage style, illustrating thirty-five puzzles in total. They are fully complemented with over 30,000 words divided into several sections. Included in the latter are "A Summary of Jigsaw Puzzle History", "Thematic Collecting", "Railway Artists", "Classification" and "Famous Locomotives and Headboards". The book is based on jigsaws depicting British steam railways only.

The book is primarily aimed at collectors of steam railway jigsaw puzzles, serious or otherwise. It is also aimed at those people without any passionate affinity for railways, who just like to reminisce about times spent on steam-hauled trains and assemble the odd jigsaw puzzle or two. Even enthusiasts of general pictorial jigsaws may find the book interesting. After all, railways and glorious lanscapes were inseparable in the steam age and there are many jigsaw examples reflecting this combination to consider. Railway officianados and collectors of railway art may also be attracted to the book as I believe there is much common ground between everyone with an interest in steam railways, whatever their focus.

If of interest please send enquiries to the email address at the top of the blog. The cost will be £15.49 inclusive of postage/packing; payment can be by cheque or postal order or via my PayPal account.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Spot the Difference

For today, 22nd November 2011, I am using two photographs of similar jigsaw puzzles and invite you to differentiate between them before reading the text.

One drawback to steam railway jigsaw collecting is that several manufacturers reproduce the same artwork. For instance John Austin's Imminent Departure has been made by Gibsons (1000pcs), Waddingtons (1000pcs) and W. H. Smith (1000pcs).  There are many other examples I could describe. In some cases a manufacturer  produced a jigsaw puzzle in different formats or within different series titles. For example Gibsons produced some puzzles as part of the 500 or 1000-piece Heritage series, as part of the wide-format 636 piece panoramic series and as a standard 1000-piece puzzle. Two Weeks in a Welsh Town was one of them. In these cirumstances a collector has to make important decisions normally based on cost. Do you purchase just one jigsaw by a single manufacturer, buy a copy of the same puzzle from each manufacturer or complete the set of copies of the same puzzle offered in different formats / series  by each manufacturer. You pay your money and make your choice, as they say.

If money is no object another alternative is possible; to collect every single steam train jigsaw made by each manufacturer. In the case of Wentworth, for example, because this company makes each jigsaw in several sizes, this may be unrealistic. In my inventory nearly eighty puzzles showing steam trains are attributed to Wentworth. When one considers that each one is made in several different sizes a collection of over 400 puzzles would be accumulated from this company alone. As I said - unrealistic, unless you are an eccentric millionaire.

The two puzzles shown are both wooden examples from Philmar and they illustrate the dilemma facing serious collectors. The first is a 50-piece puzzle and the second is a 60-piece equivalent. The title of both is Scarborough Flyer and the artwork is by T. E. North.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Two More Chidren's Jigsaws

Its quite a while since I described jigsaws made for children but the two pics in today's post, 15th November 2011, certainly fit that description. They are both of 64 large pieces made by Philmar. In a collection of steam railway jigsaw puzzles, such as my own, these children's examples must be included as the locomotives ilustrated/photographed are full scale and original.

The first photograph shows two London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) locomotives standing side by side. On the left is No.4771, Green Arrow. This locomotive is from the famous 'V2' class designed by Sir Nigel Gresley. It is of 2-6-2 ('Prairie') wheel configuration and emerged as the pioneer of the class in 1936. By 1944 the class comprised one hundred and eighty four  locomotives. The second locomotive in the jigsaw is the 'B1' class 4-6-0, No.1306 Mayflower. Edward Thompson designed the class but this locomotive was only delivered after nationalisation, in 1948, in British Railways (BR) days. It was numbered by BR as 61306 and withdrawn from service in 1967. Sold into preservation at Steamtown, Carnforth it was given the name Mayflower,,originally used  on the scrapped 'B1' locomotive, 61379. It was re-numbered 1306 and liveried in LNER 'Apple Green'. The title of the jigsaw is Green Arrow and  Mayflower.

The second picture features two more locomotives, a Great Western Railway (GWR) 4-6-0 'Castle' class example, and another 4-6-0, a 'Black Five', of the London Midland Scottish Railway (LMS). No.4079, Pendennis Castle, of the GWR has already been described in detail in the post of 14th April 2011. The second locomotive in the picture is one of Sir William Stanier's workhorses introduced from 1934. By 1951 eight hundred and eighty six locomotives had been built. Eighteen 'Black Fives', including the one in the jigsaw picture, No.44932, have survived into preservation. No. 44932 was built in 1945 and returned to mainline duties in 2010. The title of this jigsaw is Pendennis Castle and Black Five.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Three GWR Locomotives

The title says it all. In this post, 5th November 2011, I am using two photographs of steam train jigsaw puzzles showing different Great Western Railway locomotives.

The first pic shows a 'County' class 4-6-0 locomotive No.1024 County of Pembroke heading chocolate and cream passenger coaches near Dawlish, on the scenic south west coast. The artwork by George Heiron has been faithfully reproduced by Falcon in this 300-piece jigsaw titled County Class GWR. The 'County' class of locomotives was built between 1945-1947, and totalled 30 examples. The same artwork, as a 500-piece jigsaw, was used by Arrow for the 1978 The Age of Steam series

Picture number two shows a pair of locomotives, side by side, in a puzzle titled GWR Saint and 57xx, part of the 1980 Arrow, The Age of Steam series. The artist is not named. The main line locomotive heading a passenger train under a bridge is 'Saint' class 4-6-0, No.2953 Titley Court. Stationary, on an adjacent line is 5700 class Pannier tank, No.3763. The latter class of tank engines numbered 836 when completed in 1952 (started 1913). The 'Saint' class of locomotives, including prototypes, conversions and rebuilds, eventually numbered 100; they were built between 1902 - 1913.

Friday, 28 October 2011

A Pair of Falcons

Following on from the previous Waddingtons post, today 28th October 2011, I have chosen two pictures featuring jigsaw puzzles from another of the UK's well known manufacturers, Falcon. Established from his home in 1976 by Harry Jondorf, Falcon proceeded to be a major force in British jigsaw puzzles manufacture; company factory and headquarters were established at Hatfield in 1977.  When Jondorf retired in 1996 the company was aquired by a Dutch manufacturer from Amsterdam but jigsaw production has continued under the Falcon and Falcon/Jumbo names.

My first photo shows a 2005 jigsaw puzzle featuring the artwork of Robert Nixon. She is heading a rake of GWR chocolate and cream passenger coaches and several passengers and station staff are included in the picture. The 'City' class of ten, 4-4-0 locomotives was designed by George Jackson Churchward in 1903. A year later while heading the 'Ocean Mails' train from Plymouth to Paddington, City of Truro attained a speed of 102 mph, the first time that a speed of 100mph had been recorded. Only one timekeeper was present, however, and two were required for authentification. As a result the record was never officially ratified; try telling that to a true 'dyed in the wool' GWR enthusiast though, and see what reaction you get.

The second pic is from the 1990's, Falcon Venture series and is titled At the Station. An early London Midland Scottish Railway (LMS) 'Royal Scot' class 4-6-0 locomotive, No. 6138 Fury, designed by Henry Fowler is pictured at a main line station with a small boy looking on. The station may be the one at Bushey as a strong resemblance can be seen in a painting in the book Railway Colour Album of 1932. The name Fury has been carried by three locomotives - an 1831 example built for the Liverpool & Manchester Railway, the locomotive in the jigsaw picture and the third, an LMS experimental high pressure locomotive No.6399. No.6138 was built in 1927, named Fury in 1928 but renamed a year later as London Irish Rifleman. Two station staff, a railway maintenance man and old enamel advertisements are also included by artist Gerald Broom. The puzzle comprises 500 pieces.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Two from Waddingtons

Today's post, 21st October 2011, features probably the most famous British manufacturer of jigsaw puzzles, Waddingtons. Many Waddingtons' puzzles depicted steam railways and two of them are shown in the following photographs.

The original company was founded in the 19th century by John Waddington and Wilson Barratt and renamed John Waddington Ltd., in 1905. The original printing business was successfully supplemented from 1922 with the introduction of playing cards. Jigsaw puzzles, using American cutting technology, were added to the company's expanding portfolio in the early 1930's. From the company headquarters in Leeds, Waddingtons produced circular puzzles from the 1930's and jigsaw puzzle books in the 1940's. Geographic jig-maps, made from the 1960's, were also very popular. The Christmas limited edition jigsaw puzzle range, revered by collectors, began in 1994, the same year that the company was purchased by Hasbro Inc., of America. The original name lived on, however, with Woolworths as a major supplier of 500 and 1000-piece puzzles. Woolworths survived until 2008 leaving the future of the Waddingtons name in doubt.

The first photograph shows the 350-piece puzzle titled An Audience with King Edward II. A man and his children are depicted overlooking a wall behind which the now preserved 'King' class 4-6-0 locomotive, No.6023 King Edward II, thunders by heading a rake of Great Western Railway (GWR) chocolate and cream passenger coaches. The Sydney Gardens form a majestic backdrop to this action on the Paddington - Bristol line. The only surviving Georgian gardens in Bath, they are now a public park. Built in 1840 the line is hidden in a cutting but trains can be viewed from vantage points clearly shown in Barry Freeman's superb artwork.

The second picture shows a magnificent Adams Radial Tank, 4-4-2 locomotive No. 488, designed by the Locomotive Superintendent of the London & South Western Railway (L&SWR), William Adams. The '415' class emerged from 1882 and eventually totalled 71 locomotives. They were called Radial Tanks as the trailing wheels were carried in a radial truck. The title of the 1000-piece jigsaw is, appropriately, Adams Radial Tank but the photographer is not named. The locomotive is preserved on the Bluebell Railway.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

King George VI

Two jigsaw pics comprise today's post, 11th October 2011, both featuring locomotives named King George Vl (reigned 11th December  1936 -  6th February 1952).

The first shot shows a 72-piece, wooden jigsaw from Ponda (ex Ian Allan). 'Princess Coronation' class (8P) 4-6-2, 46244 King George VI, is depicted heading London Midland Scottish Railway (LMS) maroon carriages in a rural setting, presumably  on the West Coast Main Line. The artist is not named. This locomotive emerged with full streamlining in July 1940, the brainchild of the LMS Chief Mechanical Engineer, (Sir) William A. Stanier. The streamlined casing was removed in 1947; the locomotive  was withdrawn from service in 1964.

Charles Collett was the Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Great Western Railway (GWR) from 1922 to 1941. His giant 'King' class 4-6-0 locomotives were built between 1927-1928. Picture number two shows the Victory 100-piece, wooden  jigsaw titled King George VI. The locomotive of the same name appeared on GWR 'metals' in April 1928 and was withdrawn from service in December 1962;  she  is shown heading GWR chocolate and cream carriages in a rural setting with two lineside maintenance men to the fore. The artist was George Heiron.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Trains and Automobiles

Steam versus internal combustion has always been a favourite subject with railway artists. Many steam railway jigsaws feature this intriguing pairing, inviting people to think about how the  motor car made major inroads into the railway's domination of transport in the early to mid 20th century. Today's post, 3rd October 2011, comprises two pics of jigsaws from my 400+ British steam railway collection portraying this subject pairing in slightly different ways.

The first picture shows a jigsaw of 500 pieces from the Dutch company King International. Racing the Train is the title but I rather think that the vintage Singer car, an open top 1936 Le Mans, might have struggled in a true run race against a mainline passenger locomotive such as the example in the jigsaw picture, a Bulleid 'Pacific'. The driver and lady passenger seem to be enjoying the race, however. The locomotive is a 4-6-2 'Merchant Navy' class, No.35022 Holland America Line, designed for the Southern Railway by Oliver Bulleid, and  currently at the preserved East Lancashire Railway, under restoration. The artist is R. Wheatland.

The second picture, showing a 500-piece jigsaw from Gibsons, offers a different perspective on the post title. In this jigsaw, titled Brighton Bound, a vintage 1920's/1930's Bentley (?) car is portrayed, parked beside a railway line, as the elderly driver and his lady passenger stand alongside waiting to view a passing steam train. The latter is a London Victoria to Brighton Pullman express. Both locomotive and car look majestic and combine to make a superb jigsaw from the original artwork of Malcolm Root. The latter artist is well known for his love of all types of transport and its interaction with the general public. The locomotive in the picture is a Marsh/Billinton 4-4-2 'Atlantic' No.424, one of the 'H2' class of six, built in 1911-1912,  at Brighton Works. The superb livery of the London Brighton & South Coast Railway is best described as umber.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Two vertical format jigsaws

The landscape format is, and always has been, the dominant shape for jigsaw puzzles and easily accommodates a picture of a train or locomotive. The vertical format is quite rare in comparison but can produce a very effective puzzle. The two puzzles I have chosen from my collection, for today's post, 24th September 2011, emphasize the latter point.

The first picture shows a Victory wooden puzzle of 100 pieces titled Southern Railway Express "Bournemouth Limited", from the mid 1930's (T6). The express was introduced in July 1929 and ran from London's Waterloo Station to the popular Dorset seaside town. The service was curtailed during World War II but reinstated in 1945, without its name. However, the origin of the express was in a 1911 service  when the London & South Western Railway began a Waterloo - Bournemouth express until the outbreak of World War I. The 'Bournemouth Limited' was renamed 'The Royal Wessex' in 1951 under British Railways. The locomotive heading the Southern Railway (SR) green passenger stock in the jigsaw picture is SR 'King Arthur' class 4-6-0, No 789 Sir Guy. The class was originally designed by Robert Urie of the London & South Western Railway between 1919 and 1922. From 1923 the Chief Mechanical Engineer (1923-37) of the SR, Richard Maunsell, redesigned the class and built additional locomotives. The class eventually totalled seventy four.

The second picture shows a 100-piece wooden puzzle from Bes-Time titled The Royal Scot. The jigsaw picture has been painted in a poster-like style, with lots of impact, but neither the artist or details of the jigsaw manufacturer / retailer are known to me. The class of seventy 4-6-0 locomotives were originally designed by Sir Henry Fowler. The first fifty were built by the North British Locomotive Company in 1927 and the final twenty by British Railways Derby Works in 1930. However, the class was completely rebuilt between 1943 and 1955 by Sir William Stanier and George Ivatt. The location in the jigsaw picture appears to be a large terminus station (Euston?); a signal box is included next to the line.

The picture in jigsaw number one incorporates a wider angle and a higher viewpoint  than jigsaw number two and hence, may appeal more to pictorialists.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Lumar and Intalok Zig-Zag

Today's post, 14th September 2011, features two photographs of jigsaws made by different manufacturers, the latter not as well known as others described in previous posts.

The first pic shows a wooden Lumar puzzle of 220 pieces from c1933. 'The Flying Scotsman' express train is featured steaming through a very picturesque landscape. The jigsaw title is simply The Flying Scotsman; it is incorporated into the puzzle as a striking legend. The locomotive in the picture may be one of (Sir) Nigel Grsley's class 'A1' or 'A3' 4-6-2s. The famous express occupies a small part of the overall picture but is an integral part of it. The artist is not known to me. The name Lumar was a shortened form of the company name, Louis Marx Ltd., of London.

The second picture shows an untitled wooden, Intalok Zig-Zag jigsaw of about 150 pieces, part of the Winners series. The locomotive heading what appears to be London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) teak coaches is of 4-6-0 wheel configuration. Can anyone identify it? If so please email me (email address is at the top of the blog). The identification of both location and artist is also unknown to me but the artwork is strong, poster-like and reproduces as a fine jigsaw puzzle. Zig-Zag was a London-based company manufacturing a huge range of jigsaws in the early 20th century. The Intalok Zig-Zag branded puzzles probably resulted from a joint venture with the Richard Art Company Ltd.; some were branded as RACO.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

The Busy Junction

Busy railway junctions have proved to be very popular with artists and jigsaw manufacturers over many years. A location with many railway lines, converging or otherwise, offers the potential for more traffic and the two jigsaws chosen from my collection for today's post, 8th September 2011, show this potential to real effect.

Picture one shows one of my favourite puzzles of this type, a 200-piece wooden example from Victory titled Southern Railway Atlantic Coast Express. The location is Seaton Junction, East Devon but the artist is not named. The painting appears to be a direct copy, in colour, of a monochrome photograph in the collection of the Royal Air Force Museum. The photograph, titled A busy scene at Seaton Junction, is accompanied by the following legend "Southern Railway King Arthur class N15 locomotive E451 Sir Lamorack with an express passing S15 824 light engine and 0-4-2 D Class on a local train". The same junction is featured in Barry Freeman's painting Heavyweights at Seaton reproduced as a 1000-piece puzzle by Gibsons - this puzzle was featured in the post of 13th July.

The Busy Junction, a 400-piece jigsaw from Good Companion is shown in the second picture. The jigsaw shows a busy East Coast Main Line with 'A1' class locomotive No.60130 Kestrel hauling a passenger train passing a similar train hauled by a main line diesel locomotive. The artist is not named**. Above, a long freight train crosses the main line over an arched girder bridge linked to a long brick viaduct. The locomotive is a mixed traffic type but the number, on the smokebox door, is unclear. It may be No.60800 Green Arrow, one of (Sir) Nigel Gresley's 'V2' class 2-6-2 workhorses. Arthur Peppercorn, Chief Mechanical Engineer of the London & North Eastern Railway from 1946 until nationalisation of the railways in 1948, designed forty-nine 'A1's, delivered after nationalisation.

** I have been reliably informed by Jez Gunnell that the artist is T. E. North. Jez is the owner of the original artwork signed by the artist. Thanks for the information. This adds to the many other pieces of North's artwork reproduced by Good Companion.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Rural Steam

Steam train enthusiasts prefer to see their icons in a railway infrastructure setting but manufacturers of jigsaw puzzles cater for more cosmopolitan tastes. Jigsaws depicting a steam hauled train in a picturesque rural environment are popular with jigsaw enthusiasts of many persuasions, and manufacturers are quick to target the sales potential of this pairing. In today's post, 30th August 2011, I am using two pictures of jigsaw puzzles that fit the rural steam genre.

The first picture shows a 500-piece puzzle by Waddingtons titled A Country Life. The superb artwork is by Don Breckon. In the picture a small branch line train on the Great Western Railway (GWR) is relegated to the background while integrating perfectly into a strictly rural scene. A small 'Manor' class 4-6-0 locomotive, No.7807 Compton Manor, is shown heading GWR chocolate and cream carriages. A country cottage and adjacent small-holding, with goats, chickens, ducks and a horse to the fore, complete the picture. This is certainly one of those jigsaws that radiates peace and serenity from a quiet corner of the British countryside.

The second picture, of a 636-piece 'Panoramic' Gibsons puzzle, shows a British countryside farming scene titled Bringing in the Barley. The jigsaw is reproduced from original artwork by Derek Roberts. At the head of at least two, British Railways (BR) maroon, suburban passenger coaches is an ex-GWR, 5700 class 0-6-0 pannier tank (No.7725?).  In the foreground - a cut barley field - a picnic appears to be taking place including adults, a child and the obligatory dog. A bright red tractor, attached to a crop-filled cart, and a Morris Minor Traveller car are also included in a busy scene. Two other small children wave at the train from a trackside gate and the engine driver reciprocates.

Both of the locomotives shown in the above jigsaw photographs were common on GWR and BR Western Region branch lines serving countryside communities. Both jigsaws depicted would appeal to steam train officianados and jigsaw enthusiasts with broader affiliations.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Two more from Victory

For today's post, 23rd August 2011,  I am using two photographs of small jigsaw puzzles from the famous G. J. Hayter stable, more famously known as Victory. Both puzzles are small and probably aimed at children, but for serious collectors of steam train jigsaw puzzles, they are a must have.

The first picture features the famous experimental 4-6-4 locomotive of (Sir) Nigel Gresley as a 45-piece Victory jigsaw puzzle. The locomotive was placed in class 'W1' and numbered 10000. Because of the secrecy surrounding her ground-breaking design and development, she became known as the 'Hush Hush' locomotive. After entering service in 1929 from Darlington Works, the locomotive suffered many problems and, as a result, was completely rebuilt in 1936. She re-entered service on the LNER a year later as a class 'A4' look-alike, but retained the 4-6-4 wheel configuration. In BR days she was renumbered 60700 and finally withdrawn from service in 1959. The jigsaw shows the rebuilt locomotive in a works environment but is untitled; the artwork was by T. E. North.

The second picture features a 'Royal Scot' class 4-6-0 locomotive as a 45-piece Victory jigsaw titled Merseyside Express. The parallel boilered class was designed by Henry Fowler and entered service in 1927. The locomotive in the picture is LMS No. 6117 Welsh Guardsman; she is shown heading LMS maroon coaches. The artist is from the 'F. Moore' range of the Locomotive Publishing Company. The class of 70 was rebuilt with tapered boilers by (Sir) William Stanier/George Ivatt from 1943; smoke deflectors were added later.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Compare and Contrast

The title of today's post, 18th August 2011, is self explanatory. I want you to study the pictures of the early, pioneering locomotive of George Stephenson (left) and an example of a 1943 'giant', designed by Sir William A. Stanier (right), and come to your own conclusions.

It is doubtful if communities have ever been as involved with railways, as the thousands of people who turned up to watch the opening of the Stockton & Darlington Railway (S&DR) in 1825 or the Liverpool & Manchester Railway (L&MR) in 1830. Similar crowds had gathered to witness George and Robert Stephenson's Rocket claim the £500 first prize at the L&MR Locomotive Trials, at Rainhill, in 1829.  At all of these events, the physical presence of steam powered 'monsters' caused fear among some beholders, curiosity among others and admiration among the majority. A few, particularly landowners and those with canal interests, who realised that they might lose out financially, showed contempt. The L&MR is well represented in jigsaw manufacture, the S&DR, less so.

George and Robert Stephenson's north-east engineering works also won the right to build the initial locomotives for the L&MR. A superb painting by Alan Fearnley, Rocket at Rainhill, reproduced as a 1000-piece jigsaw by Waddingtons and titled Stevenson's Rocket, (with incorrect surname spelling) is shown above. The painting / jigsaw expertly conveys the crowd's emotions displayed at the Rainhill Locomotive Trials, of 1829. 

The battle for speed and supremacy between the East Coast Main Line and the West Coast Main Line for the London to Glasgow / Edinburgh rail traffic, (which had begun as early as1888), eventually resulted in huge 4-6-2 locomotives being designed by (Sir) Nigel Gresley and (Sir) William A. Stanier, respectively. The latter built his 'Princess' and 'Princess Coronation' class locomotives in response to Gresley's 'A1/A3' and 'A4' class equivalents. Stanier's class of thirty-eight, 'Princess Coronation' 4-6-2 or 'Pacific' locomotives, were built over many years, 1937-1948, as World War II intervened. The picture I have chosen shows a 120-piece jigsaw titled Ready for the Run. Illustrated is one of  Stanier's 'Princess Coronation' class locomotives, No.6248 City of Leeds, in the maroon and gold streamlining of the London Midland & Scottish Railway. However, the jigsaw manufacturer / brand name (Ian Allan?) and artist are unknown to me.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Surviving 'King'

In this post, 12th August 2011, I am comparing a 'King' class locomotive, as reproduced in an early British Railways' era painting and modern jigsaw puzzle, with a recent photograph of the same locomotive.

The first photograph features a wooden jigsaw puzzle of one of Charles Collett's giant 4-6-0s, No.6023 King Edward II, reproduced from a Malcolm Root painting. This 500-piece puzzle, titled Cornish Riviera 6023, was made appropriately by King International of Holland, and is still in production. The locomotive is heading the famous 'Cornish Riviera' express at the equally famous (or infamous) Dainton Bank, the third stiffest incline on the British mainland. The 2-miles long bank is situated on the GWR main line beginning at Stoneycombe in South Devon and includes Dainton Tunnel. To storm the incline the locomotive is shown at full power in Malcolm's painting, belching out exhaust of almost volcanic proportions from its copper-capped chimney. The signal box and quarry sidings are authentic. The BR blue colour for large express locomotives was trialled in 1948 and a slight variation was used from 1949. The GWR were unimpressed, however, and reverted to their own 'Brunswick Green' a short time later.

For comparison, as I don't have a  modern jigsaw equivalent in my 400-strong collection, I have used a photograph from a friend of mine, Alan Rigby, who photographed the locomotive this year following its return from restoration. Alan took the shot on the 5th June 2011 at Thuxton on the Mid Norfolk Railway where it was being 'run in'. The locomotive was purchased in 1989 by the Great Western Society from previous owners Harvey's of Bristol (makers of the famous of sherry); the cost, £16,000. She was moved from Bristol to Didcot Railway Centre, by train, for restoration and first appeared for public viewing, in steam, at Didcot on 2nd and 3rd of April 2011. The locomotive livery is almost identical in both images.

Friday, 5 August 2011

More Gresley 'A4s'

The Gresley, streamlined 'A4' class of 4-6-2 locomotives have been very popular with artists and jigsaw manufacturers over many years. Some puzzles featuring these 'streaks' have already appeared on our blog. Today's post, 5th August 2011, includes two photographs of jigsaws depicting the same ex-LNER 'A4' - No.60034 Lord Faringdon. This locomotive (formerly LNER No.4903 Peregrine), was one of  thirty five 'A4s' built at Doncaster Works between 1935 - 1938.

Pic number one shows an Ian Allan jigsaw puzzle of 200 pieces. The 'A4' locomotive is heading the 'Tees-Tyne Pullman', a luxury express that ran between Kings Cross and Newcastle-upon-Tyne from c1948. As my jigsaw is not boxed I am not sure of the exact title of the puzzle or the original artist.

The second pic shows a Good Companion jigsaw of 400 pieces. The  same locomotive, although liveried in BR blue, is heading 'The Elizabethan' express. This was a non-stop service that ran between Kings Cross and Edinburgh in celebration of the 1950's Elizabethan era. The jigsaw is simply titled The Elizabethan and the artist is T. E. North.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

William Powell Frith R.A.

Today's post, 30th July 2011, is dedicated to one of the most reputable paintings of the 19th century which, unsurprisingly, was reproduced by several jigsaw puzzle manufacturers.

Victorians were attracted to railway stations, rather peculiarly finding them exciting and glamorous places. The Railway Station (Paddington) was painted by Yorkshireman, William Powell Frith R.A. in 1862, and attracted enormous interest. Many social gatherings of mixed classes are integrated into the painting with some interpretation open to the eyes and minds of the beholders. The painting includes people going on holiday, a mother sending off her two sons to school, a criminal being arrested by policemen and a bride and groom leaving for their honeymoon. It is thought that Frith included himself, his wife and his mistress in the painting. He also included the man who commissioned the painting for £4,500, Louis Victor Flatlow, but not as the engine driver as Flatlow had wished. He is the person standing beside the locomotive.

Frith received a lot of help with the painting. For authenticity he copied photographs of the station and of an 'Iron Duke' class 4-2-2 locomotive by photographer Samuel Fry. The structural detail in the painting is thought to be have done by the architectural draughtsman, William Scott Morton. Louis Flatlow later sold on the reproduction rights to the painting for £16,000, a profitable venture.

The jigsaw (cardboard) shown in the photographs, in full and cameo form, is the Falcon 'Panorama' (102 x 35cm) puzzle of 1000 pieces, simply titled The Railway Station. Chad Valley, Optimago and Wentworth also reproduced the painting as wooden jigsaws.

Monday, 25 July 2011

The 'Golden Arrow'

The 'Golden Arrow' luxury service from Victoria to Dover is featured in today's post 25th July 2011. The express began operating c1929 starting as an all-Pullman train hauled by a 4-6-0 'Lord Nelson' class locomotive or, occasionally, by a 'King Arthur' class 4-6-0. On arrival at Dover passengers were treated to a first class English Channel crossing to Calais on a specially built ferry, Canterbury, owned by the Southern Railway (SR). At Calais passengers boarded an equally prestigious French train, the 'Fleche d'Or',  for the journey to Paris. By the late 1930's, however, the 'Golden Arrow' service included ordinary first and second class carriages in its formation as the interest in luxury, all Pullman travel, declined.  The service was terminated at the outbreak of war in 1939, but was re-introduced in 1946 when a special headboard (until 1961) was added to the front of the locomotive. This headboard was truly inspirational with a large golden arrow piercing a green circle, the latter embracing the famous words, also in gold.  British and French flags, fixed to the front of the locomotive, and a  horizontal Golden Arrow fixed to each side of the locomotive, added even more flair.
The three puzzles I have chosen are all small examples reflecting the popularity of the train as a subject for children's puzzles.

Picture number one features a 40-piece wooden puzzle by Philmar. Heading the famous service is 'West Country' class 4-6-2, No.34092 City of Wells, also the title of the puzzle. The red headboard and missing flags are a mystery. The locomotive is one of Oliver Bulleid's smaller 'Pacifics'. The artist is T.E. North and the locomotive is pictured leaving a main line station ( London Victoria or Dover?)

The second picture shows a 45-piece puzzle from Mighty Midgets, simply titled Golden Arrow. In the picture the luxury train is hauled by one of Bulleid's larger 'Pacifics' No.21C1 Channel Packet, the prototype of the 'Merchant Navy' class of locomotives.  The train is powering through a station, beneath a girder bridge, on the furthermost track. A lone porter struggles with a luggage trolley on the platform adjacent to the nearside track. The artist is T.E North.

Picture number three is of a 60-piece wooden puzzle, Golden Arrow, from Victory. An unidentified Bullied 'Merchant Navy' class 'Pacific' is heading the Pullman express away from Dover with a ship (the 'Canterbury' ferry?) as a backdrop. T.E North is again the artist (he must be one the most patronised artists of all time, in jigsaw production). Note that in the last two puzzles, North has painted the French tricolor the wrong way round - the blue should be against the flagpole.

On the website Dave Peel (an authority on locomotive headboards) indicates that the colour of the Golden Arrow circle was commonly green, but may also have been blue, probably black and possibly red, though definitive colour evidence is hard to come by.

Monday, 18 July 2011

LNER/BR Expresses

Tower Press (TP) was a big player in the jigsaw market from the late 1930's until entering receivership in 1969. The company operated under its own name but also many brand names such as Mercury, Outward Bound and Popular. My post today, 18th July 2011 includes three puzzles issued under TP brand names.

Picture number one shows a puzzle titled Northbound Express, made by Tower Press under the Popular brand name. This 320-piece puzzle shows a Peppercorn class 'A2' locomotive heading out of Kings Cross for Glasgow. The coaches are all Pullman examples, the norm for 'The Queen of Scots' express. The locomotive is No. 60535 Hornets Beauty, and the artist George Heiron.

North Bound Express is a 400-piece puzzle retailed under the Family Favourite (a Tower Press brand?) name. The puzzle is reproduced from a painting by T. E. North and features the Gresley class 'A1' prototype Great Northern after it had been rebuilt in 1945 by Edward Thompson as the only 'A2/2'. Photo number two shows this puzzle displaying a scene from post British Railways (1948) days as the locomotive is portrayed with her BR number, livery and lettering. The very eyecatching background is purely industrial comprising a power station with huge cooling towers and chimneys. Oddly, the same puzzle was also issued under the Good Companion name (another Tower Press brand?) titled Southward Bound.

The Express Flashes By is a 400-piece puzzle by Tower Press but retailed under the Outward Bound brand name. The artwork by T. E. North is reproduced in fine style and features a Peppercorn class 'A1' No.60130 Kestrel (BR number) heading a Pullman train out of York. The Minster dominates the horizon. Gresley class 'A4' No.4482 Golden Eagle (LNER number) is stationery on an adjacent line. 

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Artist Barry Freeman

Today's post comprises two photographs of jigsaws reproducing the excellent artwork of railway specialist, Barry J. Freeman. In my collection of 400 steam railway puzzles approximately fifty originate from paintings by Barry. He has/had three main patrons Waddingtons (no longer manufacturing), Wentworth and Gibsons although some of his paintings have been covered by two or  three of these manufacturers.

Barry has been a railway fanatic since childhood so it is not surprising that he turned to painting pictures of the steam era. He has done so, professionally, since 1989, following 18 years as an art teacher. His paintings have a warm pictorial appeal combined with a clinical approach to detail, qualities that always capture the grandeur and nostalgia associated with the age of steam. He is a Full Member and former Deputy President of the Guild of Railway Artists and was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1995.

The first pic is of a 1000-piece example from Gibsons' Heritage' series titled Heavyweights at Seaton. This jigsaw features the impressive Southern Railway 'Merchant Navy' class 'Pacifics' of Oliver Bulleid (from 1941) in both original and rebuilt (late 1950's) form.  Rebuilt locomotive No.35016, Elders Fyffes, is pictured storming through Seaton Junction with the 'Atlantic Coast Express'. Un-rebuilt locomotive (or 'Spam Can') No. 35019, French Line CGT is stationery in the adjacent platform heading an eastbound parcels train.

The second photograph depicts another Gibsons' puzzle. However, this one is from the 636-piece 'Panorama' series, titled Southern Suburbia. In the picture a Southern Railway 'Schools' class 4-4-0, No.915 Brighton, designed by Richard Maunsell is shown racing through Coulsdon North Station with an Eastbourne - London Victoria express. Travelling in the opposite direction is a Marsh/Billinton class 'H2' 4-4-2, No.2421 South Foreland, (ex London Brighton & South Coast Railway) heading a boat train. A 4-car emu (electric multiple unit) is pictured passing on an adjacent branch line.