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 :

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Two 'Britannia' Class Locomotives

For today's post, 17th December 2014, I have chosen two jigsaws from my collection (500+), both depicted in the photographs beneath and featuring British Railways' (BR), 'Standard', express passenger locomotives.

The first picture shows a W. H. Smith’s 500-piece puzzle titled Outfoxed, replicating a painting by Anthony Cowland. In Anthony's artwork, hunted foxes are hidden from the riders and hounds by a passing express train; the latter is hauled by a ‘Britannia’ class '7P' 4-6-2 locomotive, No.70038 Robin Hood. Anthony is well known for his aviation paintings but he is obviously a fine artist in general. The class of 55 locomotives, designed by BR's Robert Riddles, was built between 1951 and 1954, the prototype being No.70000 Britannia.

The next picture features a 400-piece jigsaw from the Tower Press company under the 'Mercury' brand and titled Continental Express. The express is the prestigious 'Golden Arrow' boat train, which ran from London Victoria to Dover; the express is described in detail in the previous post.  Two of the 'Britannia' class locomotives were allocated to the Southern Region of British Railways from 1951 - No.70004 William Shakespeare and No.70014 Iron Duke - to haul the Pullman boat trains. Also, for a few months in 1951, No.70009 Alfred the Great was allocated to the same boat trains. The locomotive in the picture cannot be identified and the artist's name is also missing. However, the cycling lion motif on the tender dates the picture context to 1948-1956 and the short nameplate implies Iron Duke, possibly. To the right of the picture is a 4-6-2 locomotive of Oliver Bulleid.

Many, many thanks to all the supporters of the blog and may I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Kolorbax Wooden Jigsaw

In today's post, 4th December 2014, I am describing a wooden equivalent of a cardboard jigsaw that I previously reviewed in the post of 30th July 2010.

The first photograph depicts a wooden 150-piece puzzle by Kolorbax from the original artwork by B. A Osborne. A 'Merchant Navy' class 'Pacific' No.21C1 Channel Packet is shown heading the prestigious Southern Railway's  'Golden Arrow' express of Pullman coaches. Osborne has included an aeroplane in his painting and line-side engineers add human interest.

This next paragraph is copied from my post of 25th July 2011.

The 'Golden Arrow' luxury service, from Victoria to Dover, 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. Interestingly, artists were sometimes criticised for inverting the flags on the buffer beam.

A second interesting photograph of the box and lid is shown with the replica, reference picture split and pasted equally between the lid (left) and the box base (right). The third picture shows the puzzle description, adhered as a label to the box end, in the style of other wooden jigsaw makers.

According to his excellent book British Jigsaw Puzzles of the Twentieth Century, author Tom Tyler describes Kolorbax as a 1940's producer of jigsaw puzzles. Can anyone help me with my research into this company which so far has yielded very little? (email address at the top of the blog page.) 

Monday, 24 November 2014

Two of Gresley's Finest

The two photographs in today's post, 24th November 2014, feature jigsaws showing two of Sir Nigel Gresley's famous locomotives, a 'V2' and an 'A1' (later 'A3').

The first picture shows a 'V2' class 2-6-2 No. 60800 Green Arrow as depicted in a Demand Media Ltd., 500-piece jigsaw puzzle. The artwork is not known to me but is of a poster style, not to everyone's taste but, in my opinion, very effective. The locomotive is shown in British Railways days post 1956.  One hundred and eighty four locomotives were built beginning in 1936 and the class took eight years to complete. 'V2s' were known as mixed traffic locomotives being equally at home on passenger or freight duties. My wife and I had the pleasure of boarding 'The Scarborough Flyer' at York  several years ago when Green Arrow was at the head.

The second picture needs little introduction and is presented in the same poster style as above.  Displaying her 'Apple Green' London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) livery, is the famous 'A1' class 4-6-2 locomotive, (later rebuilt as an 'A3')  No.4472 Flying Scotsman. She was the first locomotive to officially break the 100mph speed barrier which she accomplished in 1934, eleven years after she was built at Doncaster Works. She was rebuilt as an 'A3' class locomotive in 1947. The locomotive has had a few private owners in preservation and ran on the main line for several years. She was purchased for the Nation in 2004 by the National Railway Museum at York. However, after many problems, she is now being restored to main line condition at a workshop in Bury, in preparation for a return in 2015.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014


Two montage style jigsaw puzzles, each comprising many images blended into a single jigsaw, make up today's post, 12th November 2014.

The first picture features a 1000-piece jigsaw from Gibsons titled Back to the Future. Four of the steam locomotive images represent  major regions of British Railways, taking us back to that nostalgic steam era. A central, overlaid fifth image shows the new-build locomotive of 2008, Tornado, showing steam of the future. They are all the work of top railway artist Barry Freeman. 

The second jigsaw picture shows a Falcon 1000-piece montage titled Travel by Rail. The nine paintings depicted in a pinboard style are all by Mike Jefferies, another top railway artist.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Two 'Western' Expresses

Two British Railways Western Region expresses are featured in jigsaw puzzle photographs posted today, 29th October 2014.

The Paddington to Aberystwyth ‘Cambrian Coast Express’ was introduced onto the Great Western Railway (GWR) in 1927, although its origin dates from a 1921 service. The train was normally hauled by a ‘King’ or ‘Castle’ class 4-6-0 as far as Wolverhampton or Shrewsbury respectively, where the locomotive was changed. The lines west of Shrewsbury could not support heavy locomotives and ‘Dukedog’ 4-4-0s were used initially, often double-headed, followed later by ‘Manor’ class 4-6-0s. 

The first picture shows the famous GWR express at Leamington Spa headed by 'Castle' class 4-6-0, No.7027 Thornbury Castle. Barry Freeman's artwork features the train speeding through Leamington on a day when the sun is shining within a period of wet weather; hence the jigsaw title, Bright Intervals. The jigsaw is a 500-piece example from Gibsons. Barry's picture was a commision and is set in the mid 1950's. Also included is an ex London & North Western Railway (L&NWR) 'Super D' 0-8-0 tender locomotive No.49395, specially introduced for his client. 

The Paddington - Kingswear 'Torbay Express' was introduced in 1923 and was normally headed by Collett's 'Castle' or 'King' class 4-6-0 locomotives until the introduction of BR 'Britannia' class 4-6-2 locomotives. The latter also headed this and other BR Western Region expresses until the end of steam (1965 on the BRWR). 

The second jigsaw pictured is the Good Companion 400-piece example titled Torbay Express. There is no visible signature to the artwork but it may be part of a T. E. North painting, as North illustrated many others in the Good Companion series. The locomotive illustrated is 'Britannia' class leader, No.70000 Britannia, passing through a station and past a signal box. This picture is dated 1948-1956 because of the BR 'cycling lion' motif on the tender.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Two Gibsons' Panoramic Jigsaws

The two examples of jigsaws pictured in today's post, 21st October 2014, are from the Gibsons' Panorama series of 'letterbox' style puzzles.

The first picture (left) features a 636-piece jigsaw titled Arrival at Temple Meads. In the picture, a now preserved 'King' class 4-6-0 No, 6023 King Edward II designed by Charles Collett, is arriving at Bristol Temple Meads Station with a passenger service from Paddington. the artwork is by Bryan Evans. A previous post was dedicated to this locomotive  - go to the post of 12th August 2011.

The terminus at Bristol Temple Meads was opened on August 31st 1840. Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, engineer to the GWR, the oldest railway terminus in the world was built on two levels with booking offices and waiting rooms at ground level. Platforms carried on arches were reached by a set of stairs. The first broad gauge trains ran to Bath in the opening year but by 1841 trains were accessing Paddington. By 1844 the broad gauge trains of the Bristol & Gloucester Railway were using the station. In 1845 the Bristol & Exeter Railway built a station next to the GWR station but compared to Brunel’s station, this was a mere wooden shed. The B&GR was taken over by the Midland Railway in 1846 and was converted to standard gauge. This led to mixed gauge track on the approaches to Temple Meads. A new station, replacing the 1840 terminus, was built between 1865 and 1878 by Sir Matthew Digby-Wyatt.

The right-hand picture shows the 636-piece puzzle titled New Forest Junction, featuring the artwork of Barry Freeman. The latter to the best of my knowledge has provided artwork for at least 27 Gibsons' jigsaws, although a few are repeated in different sizes.  A busy Brockenhurst Station is depicted including three different outbound trains; the station provides easy access to the New Forest. To the fore heading the 'Bournemouth Belle' Pullman service is the re-built 'Merchant' Navy class 4-6-2 locomotive, No.35012 United States Lines, designed by Oliver Bulleid. The locomotive was built in 1945 for the Southern Railway and re-built twelve years later for British Railways (BR). To the left is a small 0-4-4 tank locomotive originally of the London & South Western Railway (L&SWR). The class was designed by Dugald Drummond and built between 1897 and 1911. To the right is a 'H15' class 4-6-0 locomotive No.30476. The engine was built in 1924 designed by Robert Urie. The class building began in 1913 for th L&SWR but 34076 was built in 1924 in SR days. The L&SWR was one of the railways amalgamated into the Southern Railway in 1922.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Main Line Locomotives

Two locomotives, one each from the West and East Coast Main Lines, are featured in today's post, 10th October 2014.

From the West Coast, (LMS) Stanier 'Princess Coronation' class 'Pacific', No.46254 City of Stoke-on-Trent is pictured in this 500-piece jigsaw from Rembrandt. Anglo - Scottish expresses such as the 'Royal Scot' and 'The Caledonian' raced along the West Coast Main Line between Euston and Glasgow. The jigsaw is titled City of Stoke on Trent; the train is pictured attacking Beattock Bank (the highest incline on the WCML) with a 1963 express. The photograph used by Rembrandt was by permission of Colour Rail.

From the East Coast, (LNER) Gresley 'A1/A3' class 'Pacific' No.60107 Royal Lancer is pictured in a second 500-piece jigsaw from Rembrandt. Anglo-Scottish expresses such as the 'Flying Scotsman' and 'Queen of Scots' matched the West Coast equivalents, thundering up and down the East Coast Main Line between Kings Cross and Edinburgh/Aberdeen, and Glasgow, respectively. The jigsaw is titled Royal Lancer; the train is pictured exiting the tunnel at Markham in 1962. The photograph used by Rembrandt was by permission of Colour Rail.

Two other jigsaws from this Rembrandt series were described in the post of 10th September 2014. 

Monday, 29 September 2014

Museum Locomotives

Today's post, 29th September 2014, comprises two pictures of jigsaw puzzles each featuring a locomotive preserved and on show in a museum.

The first underground railway in the world opened on 10th January 1863 between Bishops Road, Paddington and Farringdon – The Metropolitan Railway (MetR). Following collaborations with the Great Western and Great Northern Railways, the MetR had an adequate number of its own locomotives and coaches to operate the service, without assistance, by July 1864. 

Specially designed steam locomotives built by Beyer Peacock in Manchester were purchased by the MetR for working in tunnels. The engines were fitted with specially designed apparatus to condense exhaust steam and reduce the smoke released in the tunnels. Between 1864 and 1885 the ‘A’ class (44 built) and later ‘B’ class (22 built) locomotives were of the 4-4-0 tank engine type and they became the standard for both the Metropolitan and District Railways (1871). Note: these class numbers fluctuate a little according to which Internet source you access. The locomotives were originally painted olive green but this changed in 1885 to the familiar dark red or 'Midcared'. The locomotives continued as the standard type for surface and underground lines until electrification in 1905. 

A small puzzle in my collection is the COMPANION puzzle, a Vintage series example of 260 pieces, titled Class A 4-4-0 1903. The jigsaw picture is a photograph of the preserved MetR ‘A’ class locomotive No.23. The photograph was taken in the London Transport Museum, Clapham, where it is on display.

Photograph number two shows the ABYDOS 145-piece jigsaw titled Charles : The Steam Locomotive. The original, narrow gauge Penrhyn Railway of 1798  was constructed to transport slate from the Bethesda slate quarries to Port Penrhyn at Bangor, North Wales. The 0-4-0 saddle tank locomotive, Charles, was one of three locomotives purchased from the Hunslet Engine Company of Leeds in 1882, quickly followed by Blanche and Linda a year later. They replaced three, unique locomotives built in 1876 by the DeWinton Company of Caernarvon. Charles worked until the 1950's and was restored later. The engine, with others, is preserved and on show in the Penrhyn Castle Railway Museum.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Two from KG Games

This post, 21st september 2014, comprises two pictures of jigsaw puzzles made by KG Games of Northampton.

The first picture features the legendary 'A1' later 'A3' class locomotive No.4472 Flying Scotsman. For information about this locomotive go to the post of 28th June 2011 where both the locomotive and train of the same name are described in detail. In the 500-piece jigsaw titled The Norfolkman, the headboard displayed on the smokebox door signifies a service that ran between London Liverpool Street and Norwich from 1948 until 1962. The photograph shows the locomotive in original London & North Eastern Railway (LNER), 'apple green' livery carrying a later BR style headboard.

The second picture features another 500-piece puzzle from the same Trains series titled Sir Nigel Gresley. In the photograph the locomotive is shown in LNER 'garter blue' livery carrying the LNER number 4498. It was the 100th 'Pacific' (4-6-2 wheel configuration) built by the LNER and was one of 35, 'A4' class locomotives. It was named after the designer and Chief Mechanical Engineer. Withdrawn from service in 1966 it was purchased by the 'A4 Locomotive Society' but is now owned by the 'Sir Nigel Gresley Locomotive Preservation Trust' and runs on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Research your Jigsaw Subject

This post, 10th September 2014, focuses on locomotives of the GWR and BR Western Region featured in two jigsaws made by Rembrandt Games of Watford. The benefits of researching the main jigsaw subject is also highlighted.

Top left is a picture of a jigsaw titled Great Western featuring artwork by Michael Jeffries. It is part of The Past Times Collection of 500-piece puzzles. The locomotive in the picture is a very good example where subject research adds to the jigsaw experience. No.4037 began life as a 4-4-2 locomotive of G. J. Churchward, built in 1906. In 1910 it was re-built as a 'Star' class 4-6-0 locomotive No.4037 and named Queen Phillipa. In 1926, under Charles Collett, it was re-built as a 4-6-0 'Castle' class locomotive and re-named The South Wales Borderers in 1937. As a 'Castle' she remained in service until 1962, when she was scrapped. In Jeffries' artwork the 'Star' is heading a rake of superb chocolate and cream clerestory coaches and 'gangers' are working on the adjacent line.

The second picture shows a 500-piece jigsaw from Rembrandt's The Age of Steam Collection. The 'Castle' class 4-6-0 locomotive in the photograph is No.5025 Chirk Castle, built in 1934 under Collett. The train is pictured passing a TPO (Travelling Post Office) pick up point near Chippenham in 1953. Once again researching the subject makes assembling the jigsaw more interesting. In August 1838 an Act of Parliament for the ‘Conveyance of Mails by Railways’ led to the creation of the official Railway Post Office (RPO), and specially designed mail coaches. The mail was exchanged manually until an apparatus to drop off and pick up mail automatically (net and gibbet) was perfected. This became operational in 1839. By 1841 the Railway Post Office employed guards on at least twenty-five mail routes in England and Scotland. In 1885 trains for the exclusive use of the Post Office were introduced and the same year also witnessed the sorting of parcels. The Post Office renamed the RPO’s, Travelling Post Offices (TPO’s) in 1928. The jigsaw title is Chirk Castle; the photograph was used by Rembrandt, courtesy of Colour Rail. For more information on the Travelling Post Office visit the website of The British Postal Museum & Archive at 

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Three from the Southern Railway

Today's post, 27th August 2014, features 'Schools' class, 'Lord Nelson'  class and 'S15' class locomotives, pictured in the following jigsaws from my collection.

The 'Schools' or 'V' class 4-4-0 locomotive pictured first, is No.926 Repton, (built in 1934); the jigsaw puzzle is a 350-piece example from Castile. The locomotive is preserved on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR) but currently under repair - see the photograph at the end of this post. The class of 40 entered service between 1930-35 under the control of Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Southern Railway, Richard Maunsell; they were named after public schools. The artist is not named unfortunately. Many pictures of the engine can be found on the Internet.

The second picture features a 'Lord Nelson' class 4-6-0 titled SR Lord Nelson Class 4-6-0 No 864 Sir Martin Frobisher (built 1929); it is part of the 500-piece, multi-series Age of Steam jigsaws from Arrow. The locomotive was one of sixteen, built for the Southern Railway between 1926-29, by Richard Maunsell. George Heiron was the artist. In the picture the coaches are Pullman examples thus the train is probably a 'Boat Train' such as the 'Golden Arrow'. The latter was hauled regularly by the 'Lord Nelson' class locomotives until superceded by the more powerful 4-6-2s of Oliver Bulleid.

A 'S15' class 4-6-0 of Richard Maunsell again, (originals built by W. Urie for the London & South Western Railway from 1920) is shown in the final picture of a 300-piece jigsaw from manufacturer Falcon titled The East Anglian. The class of 45 were built in three batches with the final example entering service in 1936. The photograph of No.841 is a little confusing but with the help of Dave Peel's brilliant book Locomotive Headboards - The Complete Story I'll try and explain. The headboard in the photograph 'The East Anglian' (with definite article) was introduced c1951 but the locomotive was withdrawn from service in 1964. If genuine in context, this places the jigsaw photograph between 1951 and 1964. However, the locomotive was only named Greene King after being rescued from Barry Scrapyard in 1972 so the photograph cannot be placed within those dates. The photograph must be of a special train operated in the preservation era as 'The East Anglian'. Many pictures of the locomotive can be found on the Internet. The engine is based on the NYMR but rumours persist that parts of the locomotive are used to keep 'S15' compatriot No.825 in operation. Hence, the future for No.841 is bleak.

Just for interest this photograph of No.826 Repton was taken in April 2014 by my brother and shows the engine in its current state, awaiting maintenance at Grosmont on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR). Following nationalisation in 1948, the locomotive was re-numbered 30926.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Giants of the Track

Compared with my previous post, two' leviathans' of the track are featured in jigsaws depicted in today's post, 19th August 2014. The locomotives are pictured in pre and post British Railways (1948) days, respectively. The London & North Eastern Railway and London Midland Region are represented.

The first photograph (left) shows a 500-piece jigsaw from the Arrow Age of Steam multi-series depicting Class 'P2' 2-8-2 No.2004 Mons Meg. The artist was George Heiron. The locomotive is portrayed in typical LNER livery, pre 1948: the  class designer was the famous engineer (Sir) Nigel Gresley. The powerful  class of six locomotives was introduced onto the LNER between 1934 and 1936. They were designed to negotiate the harsh terrain between Edinburgh and Aberdeen to eliminate the use of double-heading, smaller locomotives on Kings Cross - Aberdeen expresses. Because of their size and weight however, they also damaged the track on occasions and were withdrawn from service in 1944. The coaches in the painting are the famous Gresley teak examples. These huge locomotives were re-built by Gresley's successor Edward Thompson as 4-6-2 locomotives, class 'A2/2', much to the displeasure of LNER aficionados. 

The second picture features a 500-piece jigsaw from JR Puzzles (now marketed by JHG Puzzles of Salisbury) from the Age of Steam series of four jigsaws. The locomotive is 'Princess Royal' class 4-6-2, No.46208 Princess Helena Victoria of the London Midland Region of British Railways, although she originated as part of a class of thirteen built between 1933-35 during the London Midland & Scottish Railway era. The designer was (Sir) William Stanier, Chief Mechanical Engineer of the LMS. The locomotive is pictured heading the 'Merseyside Express' (Euston - Liverpool Lime Street) in British Railways days (post 1948) wearing her original LMS livery. I am not sure of the location in the Edgar Hodges' painting but this express was a firm favourite with many artists, particularly as it negotiated the gradient through the long cutting from Liverpool Lime street to Edge Hill stations. The early BR 'cycling lion' motif on the tender in the painting, represents a context date c1948-56. The main Scottish expresses out of Euston such as the 'Royal Scot', were often headed by engines from the class.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Great Little Trains of Wales

In today's post, 8th August 2014, I am using three photographs of jigsaw puzzles representing narrow gauge railways in Wales.

Up first is a 400-piece jigsaw from Whitman titled Festiniog Railway. The jigsaw photograph features a passenger service passing through the glorious Snowdonia National park. The Ffestiniog Railway was saved from dereliction in 1952 and officially re-opened as a commercial venture in 1982. For more historical details about this narrow gauge railway look up the previous post of 20th May 2014. The jigsaw is one of a series of six titled The Great Little Trains of Wales made by Philmar.

The second picture features another jigsaw from the same Philmar series, the Llanberis Lake Railway.  The narrow gauge railway runs for 2.5 miles from Gilfach Ddu Station Llanberis, to Pen Llyn, along the northern shore of Lyn Padarn in Snowdonia. Trains run from Easter until September. The little red locomotive in the jigsaw photograph is a Hunslet 0-4-0 saddle tank type built in 1889, and named Elidir. The latter was originally built for working the Dinorwic Quarry and named Enid; she was re-named Red Damsel later.

The Talyllyn Railway Wales is the title of the next jigsaw, a 320-piece example from Tower Press under the 'Mallard' brand. The Talyllyn Railway was built in 1864 to carry slate from Bryn Eglwys quarry to Tywyn where it was distributed via the main line. The railway closed in 1946 following a serious rock fall but was re-opened by the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society in 1951 and became the world's first preserved railway. The jigsaw photograph includes a small locomotive No.1 Talyllyn, taking on water, possibly at Dalgoch Falls. The background comprises rhododendron bushes in full bloom and several passengers, in summer clothes, waiting to board the train.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Philmar's Inter-changeable Centres

As the title clearly states this post, 28th July 2014, features a jigsaw puzzle from Philmar with inter-changeable centres.

The first pic shows the 72-piece surround with the first core of 18 pieces. The latter in this case is a BR (ex LNER) 'A4' class 4-6-2 of (Sir) Nigel Gresley, No.60025 Falcon. The locomotive is pictured heading the famous 'Flying Scotsman' express. The surround is extremely pictorial with signal box, signal gantry and road bridge to the fore. The main focus, however, is the two children waving to the train from a line-side fence, accompanied by the family dog. A lorry provides additional interest as it approaches the bridge in the background.

The second and third pics shown together, feature the other two interchangeable centres - a BR (ex SR), un-rebuilt 'Merchant Navy' class 4-6-2 of Oliver Bulleid,  No.35019 French Line CGT and a BR (ex LMS) 'Jubilee' class 4-6-0 of (Sir) William Stanier, No.45602 British Honduras.

Although made primarily for children, this puzzle is a 'must have' for inclusion in thematic, steam train jigsaw collections.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Steam Trains and Canals

Today's post, 16th July 2014, is dedicated to the steam trains and canals genre from my 450+ strong thematic collection of UK steam train jigsaw puzzles. 

By the 1820s around 2,200 miles of canal had been built in the UK. The opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1825 and the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in 1830 proved to be decisive moments in the change from canal transportation to that of the railways. In terms of transport time, it was generally accepted that canals could compete with railways at the speed of a horse drawn barge. But railways could and did travel much faster. From the above dates the superiority of railways was accepted unanimously.

A steam train on a main line beside or crossing a picturesque canal in a tranquil British countryside setting - what artist could ignore such a scenario? Not many it seems. Nostalgia and serenity emanate from the three jigsaw pictures I have chosen to illustrate this particular transport combination.

The first picure features a jigsaw of 1000 pieces by Ravensnsburger titled Canalside Memories. In Trevor Mitchell's artwork, Chirk Aqueduct, built by Thomas Telford in 1801 to carry the Ellesmere Canal across the Ceiriog Valley, is featured running parallel with a higher railway viaduct. A large, cargo narrow-boat dragged by a working horse is pictured traversing the aqueduct and pedestrians are included on the aqueduct footpath for effect. A ‘Castle’ class 4-6-0 locomotive is pictured hauling a passenger train across the railway viaduct. The narrow boat Gifford included in the picture is preserved at the Ellesmere Port Boat Museum, but can be spotted occasionally on the UK canal network. She was built in 1926 as a tank boat for Thomas Clayton (Oldbury) Ltd., and used to carry bulk liquids such as creosote, crude oil and tar on Midlands' Canals. She was restored in 1971.

Classic DeLuxe also issued jigsaws in this category in 2008, duplicating paintings (2002) by Kevin Parrish. My second picture shows one of these puzzles, of 500-piece example, titled Canal Crossing. Depicted are a small motorboat or narrowboat  moored on a canal bank with a small boy in charge. He is waving at the driver of a small GWR locomotive (a 'Manor' class 4-6-0?) as it crosses a bridge above the canal, heading a rake of GWR chocolate and cream passenger coaches.

The third photograph features the second 500-piece jigsaw from Classic Deluxe titled Canal Cruise. This is another from Kevin’s portfolio of 2002. This and the previous puzzle capture the empathy between canal narrow boats and steam locomotion perfectly. In this puzzle a blue and black liveried narrow-boat, Water Lily, with at least three people on board, is travelling serenely along a tree-lined canal at sunrise (or sunset) having just passed beneath a brick, arched bridge. On the bridge, a British Railways (BR) 'Standard' 2-6-2T tank locomotive of George Ivatt is shown heading maroon coaches. 

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

A Wentworth Duo

Two modern wooden puzzles from the UK manufacturer Wentworth are featured in today's post, 1st July 2014.T

The Wentworth company was only formed in 1994 in Malmesbury, Wiltshire but has achieved global recognition in its short existence. Each wooden puzzle includes unique, specially shaped ‘whimsy’ pieces some of which, typically, relate to the jigsaw picture. A huge number (over 100) of steam train titles are included under the Wentworth name in my inventory of steam train puzzles, a remarkable number. Famous artists such as Barry Freeman and Malcolm Root are strongly represented. Standard sizes range from 250-1500 pieces but smaller examples are also made.

The first picture features a 250-piece puzzle replicating artwork by Malcom Root. Titled Coasting Down to Kyle the jigsaw depicts a scene in the Highlands beside Loch Carron. A Stanier 'Black Five' is coasting towards the terminus at Kyle of Lochalsh, the main ferry port for crossing to Skye, before the Skye road bridge was opened in 1995. The locomotive in the picture is preserved and Malcolm painted it for one of the co-owners. The locomotive was the 184th departure from the famous Woodham Bros'  Barry Scrapyard* in January 1987, having arrived 21years earlier. It is now under restoration at the Colne Valley Railway in Essex. 

The second picture shows another 250-piece Wentworth puzzle titled Corfe Station. The artwork is by Gerald Savine - both Malcolm Root and Gerald are members of the prestigious Guild of Railway Artists (GRA). The jigsaw picture features a BR ‘Standard’ class ‘4’ locomotive, No.80078, leaving Corfe Castle Station in Dorset with a passenger service. The scene is entirely rural with the famous castle providing a historical backdrop. The scene has always been popular with photographers and artists, up to the present day. The Swanage Railway currently hosts the 2-6-4T locomotive, the 84th engine rescued from Barry Scrapyard* in 1976, following arrival for breaking up in 1966.

* A fantastic book, Barry Scrapyard : The Preservation Miracle by Alan Warren, is available on many Internet book sites and is highly recommended.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

More Children's Jigsaws

This post, 16th June 2014, features three photographs of wooden jigsaws commonly known as children’s examples, due to their small size.

The ‘Queen of Scots’ luxury Pullman service originated in 1928 (formerly the Harrogate Pullman). The service ran from London Kings Cross to Glasgow Queen Street, via Leeds, Harrogate and Edinburgh Waverley, on the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER). An excellent jigsaw of ‘The Queen of Scots’ (headboard with definite article) is the Philmar wooden example of 50 pieces. At the head of the train is the Peppercorn ‘A1’ class 4-6-2 No.60115 Meg Merrilies. The jigsaw is titled The Queen of Scots.

This picture of a Victory 60-piece, wooden jigsaw features two GWR icons – ‘King’ class 4-6-0 No.6000 King George V and the Royal Albert Bridge at Saltash. The locomotive hauling the 'Cornish Riviera Express', (also the title of the jigsaw) is liveried in BR passenger blue. The BR logo, known as the ‘cycling lion’ can be seen on the tender, dating the picture to c1948-1956. The artist was T. E. North

A BR ‘Standard’ class ‘8’, 4-6-2 locomotive, No.71000 Duke of Gloucester is pictured next in this Ponda wooden puzzle of 54 pieces. The title of the jigsaw is the West Coast Postal, a famous mail train operated by the LMS between London Euston and the Scottish cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Perth and Aberdeen.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Two Old Wooden Jigsaws

This post, 29th May 2014, comprises two photographs of wooden jigsaw puzzles which occur infrequently on the secondary market

The first picture features a jigsaw of 80-pieces replicating an original illustration by A. Chigley. The label on the box reads 'The Arrow Series' but I'm not sure if this is the brand or series name. A title is also absent. The wooden puzzle is of excellent quality and shows a 4-4-0 locomotive originally designed by Harry Wainwright for the South East & Chatham Railway (SE&CR). The Wainwright designs were further modified, eventually by his successor as Chief Mechanical Engineer of the SE&CR, Richard Maunsell in 1913, and put into production. The Maunsell designs included No.781 shown in the jigsaw picture but this locomotive was one of ten built by the Borsig company of Berlin, incorporating some German ideas. They arrived in kit form and were assembled at Ashford Works. (Twelve were also built in Britain by Beyer Peacock). The locomotive was withdrawn from service in 1959 and later, scrapped.

The attractive puzzle picture shows the locomotive heading green passenger stock on a main line, passing under a road bridge with parts of a signal box included on the left and a signal on the right.

A fine, steam train jigsaw of 329 pieces titled Wyvern Express is shown in the second picture.The wooden puzzle was originally from the Tanglewood Jigsaw Club. It is packed in a cloth bag printed with the club name, puzzle title, number of pieces and size. Each piece has been painstakingly stamped on the back with the puzzle's code number so if a piece went astray one could tell instantly which puzzle it belonged to. As usual with a jigsaw club puzzle, a reference picture is not provided. I have found it difficult to research Tanglewood Jigsaw Club puzzles but a Mrs Barclay crops up occasionally. Was she possibly the president of the club? Was she also a jigsaw cutter? Both "push fit" and "interlocking" puzzles were made. They were never sold in boxes only bags and no picture to help as described above. Vintage puzzles date c1930 to about 1960.

The jigsaw picture features a Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway (S&DJR) locomotive of 1914, a class '7F', 2-8-0 design of Henry Fowler. The S&DJR was owned by the Midland, and London and South Western Railways. I can find little information on a 'Wyvern Express'. I suspect it is a Heritage Railway title as the locomotive in the picture, No.13809, is preserved on the Midland Railway at Butterley (No.53809). Another photograph on the Internet features the ex LMS Fowler class '4F' 0-6-0 tender locomotive, No.4027, displaying a 'Wyvern Express' headboard. Another  Internet picture shows a GWR pannier tank 0-6-0 locomotive with the headboard 'The Wessex Wyvern'.

If anyone has any information about the points raised in these jigsaw puzzles, please contact me - my email address is at the top of the blog.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Philmar 'Steamtrains' series

For today's post, 20th May 2014, I am using two pictures of cardboard jigsaws made by Philmar.

Philmar, formed c1937 began jigsaw production in the 1940’s and often used alternative brand names for particular series of puzzles: the Valiant name was common. Many steam train jigsaws of wood and cardboard were made between the 1940's and the 1970’s. The portfolio of steam train puzzles was fairly extensive and included many examples featuring preserved railways.

The first picture shows a 64 piece jigsaw, one of a set or series of four titled Steamtrains from Philmar: featured is the Ffestiniog Railway. Steam train enthusiast Alan Pegler gained the controlling interest in a derelict Ffestiniog Railway in 1954 and became chairman. Alan then transferred his shares to a charitable trust - The Ffestiniog Railway Trust. The Trust with a volunteer board of directors employed enthusiastic working volunteers and a small paid staff to begin the laborious task of rebuilding the line from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog. The first services began in the summer of 1955 but only over a short distance from Porthmadog to Boston Lodge.  The railway was completed in May 1982 and the line from Porthmadog to Blaenau was finally opened. The Trust, as it is today, still manages the railway. I can thoroughly recommend a  book of paintings of the working Ffestiniog Railway, published in 2008 by Gutenberg Press Ltd., and titled The Ffestiniog Railway Paintings of Edward Paget-Tomlinson. Some of the paintings would make excellent jigsaw puzzles.

Unfortunately I cannot identify the locomotive in the jigsaw photograph but it may be the Hunslet 2-4-0 STT, Linda, made in 1893 (does anyone know for sure?)

The second picture shows a locomotive in the national collection at the National Railway Museum in York. The 64-piece puzzle from the same Philmar series of four described above includes this example featuring the ex London & North Western Railway (L&NWR) 2-4-0 locomotive, No.790 Hardwicke. The puzzle replicates a photograph of the locomotive in its preservation days heading a rail tour between Carnforth and Grange-over-Sands in May 1976. The location was Silverdale Station. The locomotive became famous during the 'Races to the North' (West Coast route versus East Coast route) when it ran from Crewe to Carlisle at an average speed of over 67mph in 1895.

Monday, 5 May 2014

A Brace of Falcons

Two jigsaws in a single box are the subject of today's post, 5th may 2014. Steam Travel is the title of the duo from Falcon but each puzzle also has its individual title.

The first picture features a 500-piece puzzle titled The Crossing. Depicted is GWR ‘Castle’ class 4-6-0 locomotive, No.4082 Windsor Castle, passing a signal box and over a gated level crossing, heading old style brown and cream clerestory coaches. In the opposite direction is an approaching 0-6-0 pannier tank of the ‘2721’ class, No.2790. This locomotive is heading freight wagons. On the road, on opposite sides of the crossing are a 1919 Thornycroft open air, double-decked bus and a vintage car. The artwork is by Robert Nixon. No.4082 was renumbered and renamed No.7013 Bristol Castle in 1952. The reason for the change was that No. 4082, the official Royal engine, was being overhauled at the same time that a locomotive was urgently required for the funeral of King George V. Both locos thus swapped identities. A haywain is clearly visible in the corn field behind the railway.

Not surprisingly, Robert’s artwork for the second 500-piece jigsaw titled, The Red Dragon, features ‘Castle’ class No.7013, Bristol Castle - a duo in more ways than one. The locomotive is pictured hauling the famous Paddington to Carmarthen express under a small road bridge on which three, late 1940’s to early 1950’s road vehicles are clearly visible. On the bridge are a coach (Bedford OB?), a Royal Mail van and a car. An 0-6-0 pannier tank is included in the picture but cannot be identified.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Two Royal Scot class Locomotives

In today's post, 21st April 2014, two pictures are used both showing 'Royal Scot' class locomotives of (Sir) Henry Fowler and the LMS (London Midland and Scottish Railway).

The first photograph shows a jigsaw of a 'Royal Scot' locomotive in a station setting with vintage commercial vehicles in the background. The class 'prototype' No.6100 Royal Scot  is shown in early guise with parallel boiler and full LMS red livery. The class of  4-6-0s emerged onto LMS metals (track) from 1927 and totalled 70 on completion. The 'locomotive' was sent to America in 1933 as a British exhibit at the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago; in fact the locomotive sent was actually No.6152 The King's Dragoon Guardsman masquerading as No.6100 Royal Scot. No.6152 had been built later (1930) and was considered superior to the prototype. A complete train was sent to the States which toured America and Canada either side of the exhibition. The locomotive was returned to the UK with special commemorative plates positioned below the nameplates. The jigsaw is a recent 48-piece example from JL Templates  - and is regularly available on ebay.

This picture shows a rebuilt 'Royal Scot' locomotive as designed by (Sir) William Stanier, No.46112 Sherwood Forester. The jigsaw depicted is a 500-piece puzzle made by JR Puzzles from original artwork by Edgar Hodges. The 'Thames-Clyde Express' first ran in 1927 from London St Pancras to Glasgow St Enoch (Glasgow Central on closure of St Enoch in 1966) along the Settle & Carlisle, ex Midland Railway route. It was withdrawn for ten years from 1939, reinstated, and completely withdrawn in 1975.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Jigsaws showing GWR Locomotives

In today's post I am using two pics showing Great Western Railway locomotives as depicted on wooden jigsaw puzzles. One locomotive pictured is from the early days of the GWR and the other is preserved in the National Collection.

The broad gauge system of Isambard Kingdom Brunel and the Great Western Railway was unique. Brunel persuaded his GWR board that a wider gauge (7ft 0.25ins) than that currently in use (4ft 8.5ins) on the fledgling railway system, would afford greater flexibility towards the major objectives of speed, efficiency, safety and therefore, profitability. The line was started in 1835 and opened in stages between 1838 and 1841; it was built from both ends, London and Bristol. 

Broad-Gauge 8-Footer GWR 1851-1892 is one of four, plywood jigsaws showing early steam engines from a series made incredibly, for Exide Batteries. The legend along the base of each puzzle reads “one of the series of twelve illustrations drawn for Exide batteries by C. and W. Meadway”. The puzzles are of 190-200 pieces and semi interlocking. The locomotive in the jigsaw picture appears to be an example from the 'Iron Duke' class. Iron Duke was the first member of a class of twenty-nine GWR broad-gauge locomotives, all of 4-2-2 wheel formation, although for a short time from construction in 1846, Iron Duke itself was a 2-2-2 design. Designed by Daniel Gooch this famous class was the epitome of power and speed on the GWR for many years. ‘Iron Dukes’ were famous for their 8ft driving wheels and were introduced in April 1847. In 1848 class member Great Britain reached a speed of around 78mph near Swindon, a new speed record and a phenomenal achievement for the time.

If you know anything about the Exide batteries' puzzles please contact me - my email address is at the top of the blog. I know little about them.

Britain's Mightiest, a 150-piece wooden puzzle from Chad Valley, depicts the icon of the GWR, Charles Collett's 'King' class 4-6-0 No.6000, King George V. The jigsaw picture is reproduced from a c1935 GWR poster by Moy Thomas.The ‘Kings’ were the heaviest (136tons) and most powerful 4-6-0s to operate in Britain and emerged from 1927. The first one, No. 6000, King George V was sent to the Baltimore and Ohio Centenary Railroad Celebrations in 1927 following its inaugural run hauling the ‘Cornish Riviera Express’. In recognition of its achievements the Americans presented a commemorative bell, seen clearly on the front buffer beam in Thomas's picture.