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Sunday, 24 April 2011

Artist John Austin

John Austin is one of my favourite railway artists and two of his pictures, reproduced as jigsaw puzzles, form the basis of today's post, 24th April 2011. He is an Honorary President of The Guild of Railway Artists (GRA) and, to date, has won the GRA's Picture of the Year Award no less than seventeen times; the award in 2010, was his thirteenth in succession. One of John's great strengths is to paint atmospheric pictures of steam icons battling against atrocious weather conditions, particularly on the south west coast, where sea and railway are hardly separated at the best of times. Another of his strengths is to paint scenes involving several steam trains, a subject that demands a deep understanding of spatial awareness and perspective. The two jigsaws I have chosen, reproducing John's work, reflect this latter theme.

My first picture is of the Gibsons' 1000-piece puzzle titled Imminent Departure. This shows two trains at Highley Station on the Severn Valley Railway (SVR) with a third in the background. The two main locomotives are preserved on the SVR. On the left is a class 2, 2-6-0 of George Ivatt, No.46443, heading a short freight train; alongside is BR 'Standard' class 4, 4-6-0, No.75069 of Robert Riddles, heading 'blood and custard' passenger stock.  The third loco in the background is difficult to identify, but may be an 0-6-0 tank type.

Another fine example of a jigsaw showing several steam trains is Cambrian Coast Express, a puzzle of 500 or 750 pieces from Waddingtons. In the picture, a 'King' class 4-6-0 hauls this famous express, and a 'Castle' class 4-6-0 heads another train in the opposite direction on an adjacent line. A 'Grange' class 4-6-0 is also shown heading a freight train while a small pannier tank is shunting in the background. The locomotives are part of BR's Western Region. The Paddington to Aberystwyth 'Cambrian Coast Express' operated on the Great Western Railway from 1927, although its origin was in a 1921 service. A 'King' or 'Castle' class loco hauled the train as far as Wolverhampton or  Shrewsbury where a smaller 'Dukedog' 4-4-0, or 'Manor' (later) 4-6-0, took over. The lines west of Shrewsbury, along the Cambrian Coast, could not support heavier locomotives.

Another jigsaw featuring a John Austin painting is Brockhouse Station; this puzzle was described in the 3rd October 2010 post.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Pendennis Castle

Today, 14th April 2011, I am using two photographs of steam railway jigsaws, from my collection, that are among my favourites. There are two reaons for my choice (i) even though I have always lived in St Helens, my favoured trainspotting region was that on which the Great Western Railway (GWR) operated and (ii) the artwork involved in both is as good as it gets. The famous 'Castle' class 4-6-0, No.4079 Pendennis Castle, is the subject of both puzzles. In each puzzle she is depicted in a totally different style and location, but with impact to spare.

The main claim to fame for No.4079 was the fact that she was loaned to the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) in 1925 for trials agains the latest Gresley 'Pacifics'. The 4-6-0 'Castle' outperfomed the larger 4-6-2 'Pacifics' and covered herself in glory. The GWR then sent No.4079 to stand alongside Gresley's Flying Scotsman at the 1925 British Empire Exhibition (ran 1924-1925) and proclaimed it to be "the most powerful express locomotive in Britain". She avoided the cutter's torch when she was privately purchased from British Railways in 1964; In 1977 she was exported to Western Australia to run on the railway of the Hammersley Iron Company. She arrived back in Britain after being purchased by the Great Western Society and was placed at the Didcot Centre in 2000.

No.4079 Pendennis Castle has been painted in dramatic style by Bary A. F. Clarke and reproduced by Wentworth as a wooden puzzle available in a number of sizes and simply titled Pendennis Castle. The first pic shows the 500-piece puzzle. The locomotive is painted at either sunrise or sunset against an electric blue and orange sky which is partly obscured by copious clouds of black exhaust.

The second pic shows the Falcon 300-piece puzzle, from the Steamtrains series, titled Castle Class - GWR with original artwork by Rob Johnson  The locomotive pictured in 3/4 elevation is No. 4079 Pendennis Castle heading chocolate and cream (GWR) passenger carriages, exiting the Prince Albert Bridge. The panache of this class of 4-6-0 standard bearers is forever associated with the steam railway era. The bridge was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and spanned the River Tamar, thus linking the counties of Devon and Cornwall; it was opened by Prince Albert in 1859. Brunel's name is  engraved for posterity on a bridge portal.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

More Montages

For today, 5th March 2011, I am using two pics of jigsaws featuring montage type illustrations.  Locomotives great and small in BR and pre-BR liveries are shown within a cocktail of railway paraphernalia - signs, signals, station names, engineers, staff, drawings, infrastructure, locomotive headboards, rolling stock etc. I have used two simple montage jigsaws, each comprising four photographs, in a previous 11th January post, but these two are more impressive in my opinion

The first pic shows a 1000-piece puzzle from House of Puzzles titled All Change. The artwork is by Peter Annable. Like some other artists featured on this blog Peter is a member of the Guild of Railway Artists (GRA)**.

Tony Hunt RI is responsible for the original artwork reproduced by Citadel for the jigsaw The Age of Steam Trains. The puzzle is of 1000 pieces.
**The GRA website is a must for lovers of railway art, a huge collection of fantastic pictures in varying styles and mediums by over fifty artists; go to and be amazed.