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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.