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 :

Friday, 13 December 2013

Maunsell's Schools

This post, 13th Dcember 2013, features two  pictures of jigsaws, each showing a Southern Railway 'Schools' class 'V' 4-4-0 locomotive, designed by Richard Maunsell. The 40 locomotives (built 1930-1935) in the class were the most powerful 4-4-0s ever built; all 40 were named after public boarding schools

The picture on the left features the first member of the class, without smoke deflectors, No.900 Eton; the illustrative artwork is not signed. The locomotive is pictured heading a rake of Pullman coaches past a signal box. The immediate response to the painting is that it features a special boat train, although there is no headboard. My copy of the jigsaw was unfortunately purchased without a box, hence the puzzle's origin and title are not known to me. It is of approximately 75 pieces and possibly from the Philmar portfolio of wooden, railway jigsaws.

The second picture shows the Falcon 300-piece puzzle titled Stowe, also the name of the engine in the jigsaw picture. The locomotive portrayed showing her smoke deflectors is the 'Schools' class 'V,' No. 928, and she is being admired by a couple of railwaymen. The coaches in tow are Southern Railway green examples. The artwork was by Rob Johnson, the artist responsible for all four superb jigsaw pictures in the Falcon 300 series, and all covered in this blog.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Two more from Gibsons and Barry Freeman

British jigsaw manufacturer Gibsons have many steam railway titles in their portfolio including the following two, both from artwork by Gibsons' favourite, Barry Freeman. The 500-piece puzzles are pictured in today's post, 26th November 2013. 

The jigsaw in our first picture is titled Living Legend. George Jackson Churchward designed the 'City' class of 4-4-0 locomotives from 1902, specifically for express passenger duties. The most famous of the class, No.3440 City of Truro, known as 'The Grand Old Lady' of the GWR (Great Western Railway), was outshopped in 1903. In the following year she became the first locomotive to, unofficially,  break the 100mph speed barrier. The timing, equivalent to 102.3mph, was carried out by Charles Rous-Martin on the 'Ocean Mails service, working from Plymouth Docks to Bristol, Swindon and Paddington. The record was attained during the Plymouth to Bristol run, on the descent between Whiteball Tunnel and Wellington. Unfortunately, a duplicate recording was required  for authentication but a second timekeeper was not present, therefore, the record could not be ratified. The locomotive is preserved as part of the National Collection and has run on Heritage Railways in the 21st century. The second locomotive in the picture is an 0-6-0 tank locomotive, No.47383, designed by Henry Fowler in 1926 for the London Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS). This locomotive, one of 422 built between 1924 and 1931, is preserved and based at the Severn Valley Railway. The class was known affectionately as 'Jinties' (singular 'Jinty')

The second picture is titled Elegance and Industry. The elegance part of the picture is provided by another locomotive of George Jackson Churchward, this one from his 'Star' class of 4-6-0s. The locomotive is No.4010 Western Star built in 1907and the location is Newton Abbott, a mecca for GWR enthusiasts. The coaches are a mix of pre and post 1928 chocolate and cream examples. The industry part of the picture is in the form of a GWR workhorse, class '5700' 0-6-0 pannier tank No.5760, built by Charles Collett in 1929 from an original Churchward design. Behind the locomotive is a typical GWR siphon van, used for carrying milk.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

A Splash of Colour in a Monochrome Jigsaw

In today's post, 17th November 2013, I am featuring a picture of a current jigsaw made by German manufacturer, Schmidt. The quality is immediately apparent when one holds the pieces, as they are finely cut from very thick card. The printing is better on the box reference however, than on the jigsaw, which is darker.

The Adventures of Molly and Macy are based on the twin daughters of David Ellis of West Yorkshire, England. The girls form the focal point of his monochrome photographs; they are pictured in different scenarios and at various ages between 18 months and six years. David rather cleverly introduces a splash of colour into his black and white images, mostly red. He established a design and advertising agency in 1992 from which his publishing company, Double Trouble, was  founded in 2003. See more of Molly & Macy on the website at

The puzzle in the picture is titled You're Leaving and is of 1000 pieces. The girls are featured at a picturesque railway station possibly on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway or the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, both in Yorkshire (email me if you know). It is reminiscent of a 1950's style scene with the girls pictured fronting a BR tank engine and beside a loaded luggage trolley  The jigsaw is not easy to assemble because of its strictly limited tonal range (except for the red) but leaves you with a great sense of satisfaction when completed. Schmidt make other puzzles from the series of adventures.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Two 'Panoramas' from Gibsons

Today's post, 31st October 2013, comprises two pictures showing jigsaws from the Gibsons' 636-piece 'Panorama' series.

Picture one (left) is titled Sunny Day at Alresford replicating the original artwork of Chris Woods. The picture features the 1920 built, ex London & South Western Railway 'S15' class 4-6-0, No.506  designed by Robert Urie. The locomotive, in Southern Railway livery in the picture, is shown entering Alresford Station, heading a rake of BR carmine and cream liveried passenger coaches.The summer weather has attracted many passengers suitably dressed waiting for the train. The station is now part of the Mid Hants Railway (Watercress Line) and the locomotive is under restoration with a view to it entering service in 2014.

The second picture shows GWR locomotives double heading a passenger service in the summer of 1947. The locos are a 'County' class 4-6-0 No.1022 County of Northampton designed by Frederick Hawksworth and an unknown 'Castle' class 4-6-0 locomotive, the brainchild of Charles Collett. The railway runs parallel with the Oxford Canal at Lower Heyford in Oxfordshire and Barry Freeman has painted an idyllic scene integrating canal and railway traffic with the village and farm. The result is  Summer of '47 - a harmonious scene radiating all that is best in rural Britain.
The original paintings from Chris and Barry were 'masked' into a letterbox shape for these  'Panorama' jigsaw puzzles. Summer of '47 was also in the Waddingtons' portfolio as a 1000-piece puzzle.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

More JR Puzzles

Probably the most common and least expensive steam train jigsaws on the secondary market are the JR Puzzles' examples which started me off on my thematic jigsaw journey c1995. They were marketed as two series, each of four, 400-piece puzzles, titled Nostalgia - Steam Trains and Age of Steam - Steam Trains. I have already used two of them (see the post of 20th February 2011) but here is another duo replicating the excellent artwork of Edgar Hodges. The JR range of puzzles was made by Handleys Printers of Stockport from the 1970's but has recently been acquired by (James Hamilton) Grovely Puzzles of Salisbury. 

Each puzzle depicts a famous train of the steam era and the corresponding headboard; the two are 'The Flying Scotsman' and the 'Yorkshire Pullman'. Note that the former includes the definite article used only sparingly in BR days from the 1950's because the 'Flying Scotsman' headboard, used from 1928, continued in common use.

Picture number one shows 'The Flying Scotsman' headed by one of (Sir) Nigel Gresley's famous 'A4' class 4-6-2 ('Pacific') locomotives, affectionately known as 'Streaks'. The locomotive is No.60024 Kingfisher but the station is not named - possibly York. The train ran from Kings Cross to Edinburgh and was known in its early days as the 'Flying Scotchman' or 'The Special Scotch Express'; it originated from an 1862 service of the Great Northern Railway (GNR). This puzzle is from The Age of Steam - Steam Trains series.

My second picture features the 'Yorkshire Pullman' express from the Nostalgia - Steam Trains series. Again the express is hauled by an 'A4' class locomotive; this one is No.60026 Miles Beevor. Another  Gresley 'Pacific' is included in the picture, 'A3' class, No.60091 Captain Cuttle. Hodges painting is very similar to a photograph of Leeds Station shown on the York Press website of 9th October 2013. The website article describes the 'Great Gathering' at York's NRM where all six, preserved 'A4's in the world, were to be on show. Hodges' jigsaw painting is in a similar style to the website photograph showing a 1953 picture of 60026 Miles Beevor leaving Leeds Station. The 'Yorkshire Pullman' served several Yorkshire towns and cities from Kings Cross, including Bradford, Leeds, Harrogate and Hull.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Past Times Montage.

As the title aptly describes, in today's post 28th September 2013,  I am using a photograph of a jigsaw, in montage style, from Past Times. The puzzle is a 1000-piece example titled The Steam Train Revolution.
The images are superbly painted but the artist is not named, unfortunately (email me if you know who). Centrally placed is a portrait of Isambard Kingdom Brunel fronting his Royal Albert Bridge spanning the River Tamar between Devon and Cornwall. Locomotives included are as follows -
(1) An ex GWR 'Prairie' class 2-6-2 locomotive, No.4160, in early BR black livery. The 1948 locomotive was introduced onto GWR metals by Frederick Hawksworth but the 'Prairie' class locomotives were originally designed (3100 class) by George Jackson Churchward in 1903 and revised, later, by Charles Collett. 
(2) A 'Large Bloomer' 2-2-2 locomotive of the London & North Western Railway designed by James McConnell. The locomotives were originally liveried in green, but in the 1870's this changed to the familiar 'Blackberry Black'. The legend describes this loco as an 'Extra Large Bloomer' - only three, with extra large 7ft 6" driving wheels, were built in 1861.
(3) The 'Coronation Scot' special train headed by a 'Princess Coronation' class 4-6-2 locomotive of (Sir) William Stanier. The LMS locomotive was built in 1937 one of five specially designed for the express service. All five were painted in 'Caledonian Blue' and white, with matching carriages; the colour was later change to red and gold.
(4) Although built by the GNR, a predecessor of the LNER, Flying Scotsman was the first locomotive to enter service with the LNER on 22nd February 1923 as an 'A1' class 4-6-2 locomotive, No.1472. She acquired her famous name and 4472 number in time for the 1924 British Empire Exhibition, and was the first locomotive to 'officially' break the 100mph barrier in November 1934. Flying Scotsman, designed by (Sir) Nigel Gresley was fitted with smoke deflectors ('blinkers') c1960.
(5) Another superb Gresley design was the 1938, 'A4' class 4-6-2 locomotive, No.4468 Mallard. More famous to some railway buffs than Flying Scotsman, Mallard still holds the world speed record for steam locomotion at nearly 126mph, set in July 1938.
(6) The Furness Railway 0-4-0 locomotive, No.20, is the oldest working, standard gauge locomotive in the world (built 1863) and is owned by the Furness Railway Trust. She is one of eight locomotives built by Sharp Stewart & Co. of  Manchester, between 1863 and 1866. The FR livery is known as 'Indian Red'.
Also  included with or among the locomotive illustrations are linemen working on the rails in a station; a packed luggage trolley; a signal box; a tunnel; a bridge; and two home signals on a double arm gantry.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Steam and Winter Snow (2)

This is the second post dedicated to this subject (see the post of 22nd May 2011). A superb steam locomotive battling against the winter elements - what a combination. Many artists have triumphed with their interpretations of this 'vision' and produced memorable paintings, some used in the jigsaw trade. Copious amounts of steam and smoke exhaust, cooling and condensing in freezing cold air add to the profound ambience emanating from such paintings. In today's post, 18th September 2013, I am using two pictures of jigsaw puzzles each showing a different approach to this subject.

Home for Christmas is an appealing painting by Kevin Walsh used by Gibsons for a 500-piece jigsaw. Kevin shows a busy scene involving a SR 4-4-0 'Schools' class locomotive No.30901 Winchester at the head of typical, green SR coaches. The train is standing in a picturesque station. Disembarked passengers rush home after a busy day Christmas shopping, or just hang around chatting or waiting for friends or relatives. A blanket of snow covers the ground adding that extra aesthetic ingredient.

Philip D. Hawkins is the artist, Wentworth the manufacturers; the result is a superb 250-piece jigsaw puzzle titled Winter Blizzard, available in varying numbers of pieces. In the picture a 'Castle' class 4-6-0 locomotive of the GWR, No.4082 Windsor Castle, is featured heading a rake of BR carmine and cream passenger coaches, c1960. The engine is battling against a strong winter blizzard and very poor visiblity. A forlorn lineman clutching his red flag with one hand and his cap with the other, adds human interest as he struggles to stand beside the line. The nostalgia and pictorialism radiating from the jigsaw picture are almost tangible. An annual calendar featuring six paintings by Philip is marketed by Quicksilver Publishing. I have each one since 2007, when, in that year, this painting was used for November/December months. It has always been one of my favourite pictures. Because of the predominantly white background the superbly cut 'whimsies' - pieces cut into special shapes - can be clearly seen.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Artist Kevin Walsh

Kevin Walsh's artwork is highly sought after by jigsaw manufacturers. In today's post, 30th August 2013, I am using three pictures of jigsaw puzzles featuring  his paintings. Kevin hails from the rugby league town of Castleford in Yorkshire and his early affinity for painting was nurtured at Wakefield Collage of Art. His early success was in the aviation field but his love of painting saw him branch out into community life, landscapes and transport. His love of the latter is clearly illustrated by the inclusion of some type of transport of bygone days in many of his pictures. Rural associations are strong features in his paintings with nostalgia buried deeply in his brush strokes. Several of Kevin's rural scenes include a steam train as an important element of composition. At my last count, twenty four jigsaw puzzles  named in my inventory of over eight hundred steam train examples, replicate Kevin's artwork. Gibsons, Ravensburger, Wentworth and Falcon/Jumbo are among his patrons.
First up is a picture of the Ravensburger 500-piece jigsaw unimaginatively titled Green Steam Engine.  Kevin's painting features Gresley 'V2' class 2-6-2 locomotive No.4791 passing a rural house with two children looking on from the garden gate. A man standing by his vintage Austin car is also included, admiring the green engine as it roars by.

Next are two pics showing all or part of a Kevin Walsh painting used in the jigsaw trade. The first, picture number two overall, shows the 1000-piece jigsaw by King International titled Following the Trains. The painting  is typically Kevin's featuring a wonderful steam train, in this case the famous express 'The Flying Scotsman', being admired by a couple of children and the family pet. Included in the scene is a tractor, a vintage Royal Mail post van and a postman collecting mail from a lineside post box. The scene is typically rural and nostalgic, the inclusion of the vintage post van and tractor adding more impact the the countryside scene isolated in the jigsaw pictured below. The locomotive heading the express is Gresley 'A1' class 4-6-2, No.4472 Flying Scotsman.

The jigsaw in picture number three has the same title as the  example  immediatley above. It is made by Ravensburger and produced in the vertical format from the same Walsh painting (or is it?). To accommodate the shape of the Ravensburger picture the tractor, postman, mail van and post box are 'cut off'; hence, it loses the extra impact inherent in the King jigsaw. The cut off point offers much discussion though. A vertical cut on the right hand side of the King jigsaw, excluding the Royal Mail content, and matching the Ravensburger example, appears to be impossible.

Apologies for using this picture for a second time, but it was important in the context of this post.

The headboard 'The Flying Scotsman', complete with defnite article,  was sparingly used from c1950*. The headboard 'Flying Scotsman' was used from c1928 and subsequently remained the most utilized  headboard (with slight shape changes) used on the express. However, the number of the locomotive 4472 and the tender lettering LNER (London & North Eastern Railway), infer a pre-1948 date, for the painting. 1948 was the year when the four UK regional railways (LNER, SR, GWR and LMS) were nationalised as British Railways. 
A 1928 photograph of the 'Flying Scotsman' express, headed by the Gresley 'A1' class locomotive No.2547 Doncaster, can be viewed on the Internet (Wikipedia).
* Locomotive Headboards. The Complete Story. Author Dave Peel. (ISBN 0-7509-4462-5)

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Rural Steam

In this post, 21st August 2013, I am using photographs of two jigsaw puzzles both illustrating single track branch lines in steam's halcyon days.
Picture number one features a small, 'H' class 0-4-4 tank locomotive designed by Harry Wainwright of the South East & Chatham Railway, in 1904. The SE&CR was one of the component railways that made up the Southern Railway (SR) following 'grouping' on 1st January 1923. Many of the class were fitted for push-pull working most suited to rural branch lines. The jigsaw puzzle is a 500-piece example from Falcon titled Homeward Journey. The artwork is by transport artist, Mike Jeffries. In the jigsaw picture the locomotive is heading two SR suburban coaches along a single track; the latter runs parallel to a muddy footpath. On the footpath two schoolboys are walking  and chatting. Homeward journey appears to relate to the train, and to the boys.
Country Connection is the title of the jigsaw in the second picture. It is a wooden example of 240 pieces but its origin is not clear. It was cut to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Great Western Railway (GWR) but by whom, I don't know. It is part of a series of which I have six in my collection, all replicating artwork by Don Breckon. The latter is famous for his paintings of GWR suburban scenes; the inclusion of human interest appears to be important in many of Don's paintings. The station in the painting is not a 'real'  station but similar in style to many suburban, GWR examples. The interpretation of Don's artwork is completely personal. The locomotive is a typical small prairie 2-6-2 tank type, common on suburban GWR lines. It is standing in the station heading two chocolate and cream suburban coaches, with the customary human interest, mischievous boys and an older lady in this puzzle, also included. The red Bedford WLB bus and a car (taxi?) wait in the station yard for transferring passengers. 

Monday, 5 August 2013

Two from B.R.

The two puzzles described in today's post, 5th August 2013, are marketed under the B.R. label. The latter to any railway buff is an acronym for British Railways or British Rail but the relationship between the label and jigsaw puzzles is unclear. The four puzzles in the series all relate to the British Railways era however, the steam locomotives all carrying the post 1956 'rampant lion and wheel' logo.  If anyone out there can shed any light on this please contact me.

The first picture shows a 400-piece jigsaw titled No.46102 The Black Watch. The LMS 'Royal Scot' class of seventy 4-6-0 locomotives was originally designed by Henry Fowler, but rebuilt later by William Stanier. No.46102 is pictured speeding past a group of track workers, hauling a rake of carmine and cream carriages. The artist is named as Michael Turner. Studying the signature on the jigsaw painting points me in the direction of the famous aviation and motor sport artist of the same name and similar signature. Born in 1934 in Harrow, Michael may have been persuaded to turn his experienced hand to railway painting. The printing quality of this puzzle picture is better than in the second one below, resulting in denser colour saturation.

Leslie Carr is the famous artist named on the second jigsaw puzzle picture titled No.46245 City of London. The 'Princess Coronation' class 4-6-2 locomotives were outshopped between 1937 and 1948 from Crewe Works. They were designed for the LMS by (Sir) William Stanier and numbered thirty eight on completion; all had been retired by 1964. The first locos to grace LMS lines were streamlined and the previous post describes why. Three 'Princess Coronation' class locos are preserved - No.6229 Duchess of Hamilton, No.6233 Duchess of Sutherland and No.6235 City of Birmingham. The loco in Leslie Carr's water colour painting is speeding through countryside on the west coast main line, in charge of a rake of BR maroon coaches.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Two Famous Expresses

In this post, 18th July 2013, I am using pictures of jigsaw puzzles featuring two main line express trains from the steam era  -  the 'Coronation Scot' and the 'Cornish Riviera Limited'.  

The ‘Coronation Scot’ of the London, Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS), was named to coincide with the year of the Coronation of King George VI in 1937. On its inaugural 'press' run the train was hauled by a Stanier ‘Coronation’ class 4-6-2 No.6220 Coronation and reached a UK record speed of 114mph. No.6220 was one of five locomotives specially designed for the service, although other class members followed later. Until 1939 the coaches and locomotives were light blue with silver bands but afterwards changed to LMS red with gold bands. Carriages were custom built with their own streamlining and air-conditioning as standard. The express carried roofboards and tailboards but did not display a headboard. The ‘Coronation Scot’ train did not reappear after the war, consigned, unfortunately, to history. Picture number one shows the express being admired by a track worker as it thunders by at full throttle. The jigsaw is a 150-piece wooden example from Victory but the artist is not named.
The ‘Cornish Riviera Limited’ of the Great Western Railway (GWR) resulted from an improved Paddington to Penzance (via Plymouth) service in 1904 and the returns from a subsequent competition to find a name for this excellent express. Originally the train was to be named ‘The Riviera Express’ the name chosen from the competition entries but this was changed to ‘Cornish Riviera Limited’ in the 1906 timetables. Carriages were ‘slipped’ at Westbury, Exeter and Taunton for other destinations. A headboard, 'Cornish Riviera' was only introduced in 1951 by BR; the headboard 'Cornish Riviera Limited' was used five years later. Some pictures and jigsaw puzzles use the title 'Cornish Riviera Express'; this headboard was used from 1958.* This crack GWR express has always been popular with jigsaw manufacturers such as Victory, Falcon and Chad Valley, and more recently, King. The picture shows a very recent Otter House, 1000-piece jigsaw titled Life in the Country  replicating Stuart Booth's original artwork. A 'King' class 4-6-0 locomotive  No.6029 King Edward VIII, designed by Charles Collett and sporting the 'Cornish Riviera Limited'  headboard, (c1956) is travelling over a causeway between two bodies of water. Small boats and a family of mute swans add to an idyllic coastline setting. This locomotive was originally named King Stephen in 1930 but renamed in 1936.
Congratulations to Otter House for producing a 'space saving' smaller box to house the jigsaw pieces. Some manufacturers use or have used huge, totally over-sized boxes to house the larger puzzles leading to a shortage of shelf space for collectors such as myself.
 * For details of all headboards used in BR and pre BR days, the superb book by Dave Peel,  Locomotive Headboards,The Complete Story  (ISBN 0-7509-4462-5) is a must. The book is clearly written and illustrated with superb photographs and illustrations.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

A Wentworth Duo

It's over a month since I last posted due to a family bereavement. In today's post, 30th June 2013, I am using two pictures featuring laser-cut, wooden puzzles from the famous Wentworth company.

The Wentworth company, situated near Malmesbury in Wiltshire, was only formed in 1994 but it has achieved recognition as a global brand in its short existence. On the Wentworth website the company describes the wood composites from which the jigsaws are cut as "taken from sustainable sources". This is an important consideration for many jigsaw purchasers in this modern age of environmental or 'green' concerns. The coloured drawstring bag used by the company to enclose and secure jigsaw pieces inside a substantial box has become legendary. Although more expensive than cardboard puzzles, wooden examples don't appear to lose value at the same rate and are, therefore, more appropriate to pass on as heirlooms. Many Wentworth jigsaws, past and present, depict steam railway scenes (over eighty in my inventory) with famous artists such as Barry Freeman and Malcolm Root strongly represented. Barry is represented again in today's post and joined by an artist whose paintings are regularly voted as 'Best' in the GRA (Guild of Railway Artists) 'Picture of the Year' annual competition - John Austin. John has won the competition on fifteen consecutive occasions,  proof of his wonderful skill in railway art.

My first picture shows a 500-piece wooden puzzle titled  Light Duties. Barry Freeman is responsible for the superb artwork which focuses on a 'Jubilee' class  4-6-0 locomotive of Sir William Stanier, No.45577 Bengal,  heading a short passenger train towards Knucklas Station in Wales. The picturesque countryside is enhanced by the local Viaduct. The locomotive was withdrawn from service in 1964 dating Barry's picture to the early 1960's, probably.

In my second picture, John Austin's superb painting Exeter at Tavistock is replicated by Wentworth as a  250-piece, wooden puzzle, also the title of the jigsaw. One of Oliver Bulleid's revolutionary, 'air-smoothed'  4-6-2 locomotives, affectionately referred to as 'Spam Cans' by enthusiasts, is pictured in a wonderful winter setting as it hauls a passenger train over the viaduct at Tavistock. The locomotive is 'West Country' class, 'Light Pacific', No.21C101 Exeter - hence the title.

Wentworth jigsaw puzzles are available in several different sizes  -  30 to 1500 pieces.

Books by Barry and John, including superb artwork, informative text and biographical details,  are available from normal sources, including the Internet.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Two More from George Heiron and Victory

George Heiron was a superb railway photographer and artist and many of his paintings have been used by jigsaw manufacturers. Several previous posts have covered jigsaws replicating his artwork and this one, 29th May 2013, comprises two more.

The first picture shows a wooden Victory puzzle of 100 pieces titled Lemberg. George's painting depicts a London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) express of teak coaches headed by a Gresley class 'A3' 4-6-2 locomotive, No.2544 Lemberg. The Kings Cross - Newcastle express is pictured at Potters Bar in 1930.
The second picture shows another wooden Victory puzzle of 100 pieces, in the same series of four, as Lemberg above. This jigsaw is titled Union Castle. The Bulleid 'Merchant Navy' class 4-6-2 No.21C2 Union Castle is pictured heading the 'Devon Belle' Pullman train. The 'Devon Belle' was a Southern Railway (SR) service that ran between 1947 and 1954 from Waterloo to Ilfracombe and  Plymouth. A special feature of the train was the observation car attached as the final coach. 

Friday, 17 May 2013

A Hand Cut Masterpiece

Wooden  jigsaw puzzles hand cut by a master of the craft have a great affinity with aficionados of our hobby, and in comparison with cardboard equivalents have a proven status as family heirlooms. For this post, 17th May 2013, I am using just one picture featuring a wooden jigsaw of over 1100pcs hand cut by a lady of great expertise, Sara White. Sara, who sadly passed away in 2012, was revered among jigsaw puzzle collectors and a keenly anticipated supplier to the British Jigsaw Puzzle Library. I am lucky enough to own three examples of her work, each featuring steam trains. For biographical details of Sara look up Tom Tyler's book British Jigsaw Puzzles of the Twentieth Century.

Steam Trains is the title of a 1160 piece jigsaw expertly cut by Sara c1998; many whimsies are included to increase interest. Eleven steam locomotives heading passenger and freight stock are integrated into a tapestry of railway landscapes including infastucture such as bridges, a viaduct, signal boxes, stations and halts. In the picture all human beings,  in terms of passengers and staff, are replaced with rabbits in the style of Beatrix Potter. The jigsaw thus appeals to steam railway enthusiasts and those who prefer children's stories. The artwork is illustrative in style but the artist is unknown to me. The steam train illustrations are more than acceptable as accurate representations.

For interest, a second puzzle cut by Sara can be found in the post of 21st March 2011.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

St Pancras and Waterloo

Today's post, 30th April 2013,  comprises two pictures of jigsaw puzzles featuring major railway stations in London,  in steam days naturally.

The first shows a 150-piece wooden jigsaw puzzle titled St Pancras, part of a 'GLEVUM' SERIES of puzzles. According to the Glevum Games website "Glevum Games was the principle trade name used by a firm established in Gloucester in 1894 by Harry Owen Roberts and his younger brother John Owen Roberts. Roberts Bros manufactured a vast range of products at their factory in Upton Street, Gloucester. The factory was built in 1902 and provided state-of-the-art workplace for the worforce of up to about 700 employees........". The company manufactured a huge range toys and games and some of the latter are often available on Ebay. A book about the company was published in 2003. The St Pancras jigsaw puzzle features several Midland 'Compound', 4-4-0 steam locomotives designed originally by Samuel Waite Johnson and updated by Richard Deeley. The locomotives/trains are static in the station with passengers and station staff prominent also.

The majestic St Pancras Station was completed for the Midland Railway (MR) in 1868. The railway had secured an Act of Parliament for the station five years previously - the site was adjacent to the Great Northern Railway’s Kings Cross Station. Before the new station was built the MR was using other London stations, particularly Euston, but had built its own London line from Bedford for the opening of St Pancras; the MR had become disillusioned with constant delays on lines into Euston. The 243ft span was exceptional for an interior and covered the magnificent trainshed of engineer William Barlow - the world’s largest enclosed space. 
The second picture shows a 500-piece jigsaw from Waddingtons titled Waterloo Station. Helen Madeleine McKie painted two posters for the Southern Railway in 1948 to commemorate the Centenary of the opening of the rebuilt Waterloo Station. Britain in the grip of war is contrasted with the station in peacetime in the two posters. The posters show hundreds of busy passengers in exactly the same positions and poses in each, but with clothing and roles changed to match the time. The distinction between red tunics and khaki uniforms of the guardsmen in both posters is particularly interesting as is the wartime camouflage and post war decor of the station. The jigsaw replicates the peacetime poster.
Waterloo Station was opened by the London & South Western Railway in 1848 as Waterloo Bridge Station comprising just four platforms and six tracks. It was built on an extension from Nine Elms Station which was the L&SWR London terminus. The station was extended in 1860, 1878 and 1885. In 1886 it was named Waterloo Station but the three earlier extensions had ceated total chaos for passengers resulting from eighteen platforms and only ten platform numbers. The terminus was completely rebuilt by the same railway company between 1900 and 1922 into a new, twenty-one platform station, opened by Queen Mary on 21st March 1922. 

Friday, 5 April 2013

Three from Arrow and Terence Cuneo

Today's post, 5th April 2013, comprises three pictures of jigsaw puzzles replicating the artwork of Terence Cuneo. The trio were made by Arrow, one of the huge manufacturers of the 1960's/70's.
Many of Cuneo's paintings were the result of commissions and his portfolio of  subject material was immense. However, he is probably most famous for his railway paintings which are highly sought after by collectors. Several of his paintings were commissioned by the model railway companies Tri-ang and Hornby for use in catalogues, leaflets etc including the three that are pictured below.
Picture number one shows the first of three 320-piece puzzles from Arrow, this one titled Class 4 Diesel-electric at Saltash (later designated as class 40). This painting was used on the 1963 Triang catalogue. A class 4 diesel- electric locomotive is shown heading a main line express across the famous, single line bridge while a 'Grange' class 4-6-0 steam locomotive waits to cross in the opposite direction.
The second puzzle is titled Night Scene at Crewe. This painting was used on the front of the Triang-Railways - Hornby Dublo leaflet describing their amalgamation in 1965 and again on the Triang Hornby catalogue of the following year. In his book The Railway Paintings of Terence Cuneo the artist titles this painting Voltage versus Steam. Shown in contrast to each other are a small, steam tank locomotive and a class 'AL5' electric locomotive E3077, later re-numbered 85022, heading a speeding express.
The third jigsaw of 320-pieces is titled M7 at Stratford.  Arrow was owned by Lines Brothers who also owned Triang Hornby and the jigsaw manufacturer marketed this third puzzle with the other two as a short series or set. Hornby Railways continued to use Cuneo paintings for catalogues, leaflets etc into the 1970's. The small class 'M7' 0-4-4 tank locomotive No.245 is pictured standing outside Stratford Works. This ex Southern Railway locomotive is part of the National Collection in York and was originally built for the London & South Western Railway.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Engine Spotter's Jigsaws

This post, 19th March 2013 and the first for some time, (apologies if you are a follower) comprises four pictures, showing two jigsaw puzzles and their boxes, an unusual diversion for me. 
The two jigsaws pictured are from the Tower Press Engine Spotter's Series of six, 200 piece examples. The quality of the puzzles is not of the higher standard of other Tower Press puzzles with the poor quality repeated in the box manufacture. The boxes clearly indicate the main purpose of manufacturing the puzzles - to assist train spotters with the correct identification of steam locomotives. The printed description on each box reads "Famous Engines in Authentic Detail".
The first jigsaw is titled Midland Region Class 7P. 4.6.2. 'Pacific' type. No.46255 City of Hereford. The class of thirty-eight was the brainchild of Sir William Stanier of the LMS and was constructed at Crewe over an eleven year period, originating in 1937. The locomotive is 'dressed' in BR 'Express Passenger Blue', a livery carried for variable lengths of time by twenty-seven members of the class, from c1949. The power class of these 'Pacifics' was later revised by BR to '8P'.

The second jigsaw is titled Western Region "King" Class. 4.6.0. type. No.6000 "King George V". The class of thirty-one 'Kings' was designed by Charles Collett and initially power-classed as 'Special', later revised to '8P' by BR. This engine is also shown in BR 'Express Passenger Blue', a livery short-lived on the Western Region of BR. Artistic renditions of this locomotive have been extensively used by jigsaw manufacturers over many years, a trend started by the Chad Valley Company in 1928.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Two from Victory

In today's post, 9th February 2013, I am using photographs of two Victory wooden jigsaws which can be described as children's examples because of their size. Both feature Great Western Railway (GWR) scenes. This is also our 100th post since we began in July 2010. Many thanks to everyone who email me with support,  comments and queries.
First up is a picture of a 30-piece puzzle featuring a GWR 'Star' class 4-6-0 locomotive designed by George Jackson Churchward. There is no title on the box, just the number P.0. Churchward embraced engineering principles from abroad (mainly France) when building his 'Stars'. The prototype, provisionally numbered 40 in 1906, was later named North Star and was of 4-4-2 wheel configuration. The wheel configuration was altered to 4-6-0 in 1909, and the number, to 4000 in 1912.  The last member numerically of the class, No.4072 Tresco Abbey, was built in 1923. One 'Star' class locomotive, No.4003 Lode Star, has been preserved in the National Collection at York. In the picture the F. Moore name appears as the artist but there was never an artist by this name. Thomas Rudd was the main artist for the Locomotive Publishing Company in the early 20th Century and it was this company that used the 'F. Moore' name for its published pictures and prints. The carriages are also early 20th century designs of a crimson lake colour which appeared c1912.

Picture number two shows a 45-piece jigsaw titled Birmingham & North Express, at Hatton Summit, GWR. The artist is not named. A 'King' class 4-6-0 locomotive of Charles Collett is pictured heading the express but the number, and the corresponding name, are unclear. The carriages in this picture are of post 1922, chocolate and cream vintage. The class of thirty-one, the most powerful 4-6-0s ever built, appeared on  GWR metals  between 1927 and 1936. The prototype No.6000 King George V, is described in several previous posts, but particularly in that of 3rd November 2010.
These two jigsaws are less common than other children's railway jigsaws from Victory. Wooden puzzles of this vintage inevitably suffer from paper loss, broken lugs etc. so don't be too disappointed if your examples are  less than perfect.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Artist George Heiron

This post, 4th February 2013, follows on from others I have put together describing jigsaw puzzles replicating paintings by some of my favourite railway artists. John Austin, Barry Freeman, Malcolm Root and Don Breckon have already featured and George Heiron (1929-2001) is next. 

George was born in 1929 not far away from the famous Temple Meads Station. The Great Western Railway was in its heyday and it must have been inspiring growing up as a Bristolian prior to the Second World War. Those magnificent Churchward and Collett locomotives must have impressed George in his formative years as he became a freelance photographer and artist following his National Service; steam railways were his passion. Bristol was known as the ‘crossroads of the west’ and George described the railway as “this most noble form of transport”.  His most prolific photographic period was the last decade of British Railways when he shot the final throes of steam in his native West Country. His images epitomise the very essence of the period and were mixed with his fine efforts with brush and canvas. He was a member of the Guild of Railway Artists for a short time and exhibited at the first National Exhibition of Railway Art in 1977 -  when around twenty artists exhibited 150 pictures.  In terms of railway paintings being transformed into jigsaw puzzles, George Heiron’s paintings were very popular with manufacturers Victory, Arrow and Falcon.

My first picture features the Falcon De-luxe jigsaw of 500 pieces, The Golden Arrow - SR. George painted this picture in 1991, and along with three others it was issued as a series titled Steamtrains in 1992. The Golden Arrow luxury service from London Victoria to Dover was terminated in 1939 at the outbreak of World War II, but was re-introduced in 1946. It had been operating from 1929 starting as an all-Pullman service hauled by a 'Lord Nelson' class 4-6-0 locomotive or, occasionally, by a 'King Arthur' class 4-6-0. In the picture the 'Golden Arrow' is headed by a Bulleid 'Merchant Navy' class 4-6-2, No.21C1 Channel Packet.

The second picture shows another jigsaw from the same series, this one titled The Cornish Riviera Limited - GWR. This express resulted from an improved Paddington to Penzance (via Plymouth) service in 1904 and the returns from a subsequent competition to find a name for the train. As the express gained in popularity and inevitably, weight, it required larger motive power in the form of 'King' class 4-6-0 locomotives to Plymouth where 'Castle' class 4-6-0 locomotives, took over haulage duties. The scene painted by George and by many others features the famous Shell Cove in South Devon, with Horse Rocks in the background. The railway line hugs the coast between Dawlish and Teignmouth, passing through five short tunnels blasted through red sandstone rock.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Steam and Dockyards

For this first post of the new year, 16th January 2013, I am using photographs of two jigsaw puzzles showing steam locomotives working in dockyards. The first jigsaw features a freight working and the second, two different passenger services. For the more general jigsaw enthusiast these two puzzles may be more attractive as the steam trains are not the main focus of attention. 

The first photograph shows a Good Companion jigsaw of 400-pieces titled The Last of the Cargo. A British Railways (BR) 'Standard' class '4' 2-6-0 locomotive, designed by Robert Riddles, is pictured heading cargo vans while being held at a set of points. The locomotive was built in 1952 and withdrawn from service just thirteen years later. In the background is a passenger liner (?), a working tug and another ship, possibly a ferry. A line of flat wagons loaded with drums (chemicals or oil etc) is also included in the foreground. Two war planes are included by the artist T. E. North.

The second pic also shows a 400-piece jigsaw from Good Companion, this one titled Train Ferry. The setting is a dock terminal featuring Pullman cars, possibly from an overnight sleeper service, being loaded onto the ferry.  The locomotive pushing the cars is indistinct. To the fore is a second passenger service comprising BR carmine and cream livery coaches, headed by what appears to be a BR 'Standard' class '7' 4-6-2 locomotive. A tug and another passenger craft add to the nautical theme of the puzzle. The artist is T. E. North once again.