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Monday, 28 December 2015


Some enthusiasts love montage style jigsaw puzzles and I admit to being one of them. Today's post, 28th December 2015, features two pics of montage jigsaws although, I prefer to call one of them, a composite.

First of all let me explain. In my 2007 book, Steam Trains and Jigsaw Puzzles, I said "Composites are separate images joined together with definite boundaries between them in contrast to montages, where images are blended together with no definite boundaries. These are my own definitions for this book and may not comply with those of others". I stand by these entirely personal definitions.

Picture one, left, shows an early noughties', 1000-piece jigsaw from Waddingtons which, by my definition, is a montage. It is titled Classic Steam Trains. Eight images, duplicating the superb artworks of Malcolm Root are blended together to form a single picture with superb impact. The original images can be found in two books of Root paintings - The Railway Paintings of Malcolm Root (1996) and Malcolm Roots Railway Paintings (2004). From left to right, top to bottom the paintings are as follows:

'Winter at Corfe Castle'. A small 'M7' class 0-4-4 tank engine, No.30060, designed by Dugald Drummond for the London & South Western Railway in 1897 is pictured leaving Corfe Station. The two coach passenger train is shown in a winter . The snow and Castle add pictorial interest.
'Weymouth Turnaround'. A re-built 'Merchant Navy' class 4-6-2 locomotive of Oliver Bulleid, No.35017 Belgian Marine is the focus here. The engine crew are working hard turning the huge locomotive on the ex GWR, 65ft turntable at Weymouth.
'All Out Effort'. 'King' class 4-6-0 No.6023 King Edward II, in BR passenger blue livery, is pictured passing Stoneycombe Quarry and signal box. The train is the famous 'Cornish Riviera Express'.
'Clouds and Crosswinds'.  Sir William Stanier's 'Princess Coronation' class 4-6-2, No. 46238 City of Carlisle is pictured on the northern fells approaching Shap Summit with a Scottish express. The spot is famous for inclement weather and a favourite among artists.
'Night Ferry'. The night service destined to reach Paris in eleven hours after leaving Victoria Station at 10pm is headed by 'Lord Nelson' class 4-6-0, No.855 Robert Blake. The locomotive class was designed by Richard Maunsell. 
'Constable Country'. 'Britannia' class 4-6-2, No.70003 John Bunyan is depicted attacking Dedham Bank after leaving Manningtree with an express. The signal box adds to the impact.
'Grantham Departure'. The huge 'P2' class 2-8-2 locomotives, designed for the LNER by Sir Nigel Gresley, were the most powerful in the UK. No.2001 Cock o' the North is pictured heading north with an East Coast express.
'Halstead's Own'. This picture represent Root's home town of Halstead in Edwardian Times. The locomotive in the station is a Hawthorn-Leslie 2-4-2 tank, No.2 Halstead, of the Colne Valley Railway. 

Picture two shows the Gibsons 1000-piece jigsaw simply titled Brunel, which by my definition is a composite. From left to right, top to bottom the pictures are as follows:

The Deck of Brunel's 'Great Eastern' 1866; 'The Thames Tunnel', London, 1830; 'The Royal Albert Bridge, Saltash', BR (WR); 'Iron Duke' locomotive at Chippenham Station; Isambard Kingdom Brunel, English railway engineer and inventor, 1857; Launching a buoy from the 'Great Eastern'; 'Recovery of the cable on the Great Eastern'; 'Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol' GWR/LMS; 'Speed to the West' GWR poster, 1939. The pictures were sourced from the National Railway Museum, Science & Society Picture Library and Science Museum.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Small Railway Stations

Today's post, 18th December 2015,  features pictures of 1000-piece jigsaws on the theme of Railway Stations.

The first picture, left, shows  a Gibsons' example titled Little Spotters which was also used as a promotional jigsaw by Cadburys. The artist is Kevin Walsh. The station is a small example complete with most railway structures you would have been familiar with, if of a certain age, in the late 1950's - platform waiting room/buffet, children loco spotting, a couple of steam trains, a luggage cart with milk churns and numerous advertisements. The locomotive in the picture is ex GWR Prairie Tank '4575' class 2-6-2, No.4588, built in 1937 and designed by Charles Collett. The British Railways (BR) logo on the locomotive indicates a date between 1956 and 1962, when the engine was withdrawn from service. The locomotive was preserved and based on the Paignton & Dartmouth Steam Railway and then the Dartmouth Steam  Railway which gives a clue as to  the location of the station in the puzzle. It is now out of service, awaiting overhaul at Tyseley Locomotive Works.  

The second picture features a Falcon jigsaw titled Steam Express, reproduced from artwork by Kevin Walsh again. The scene is not dissimilar to the first puzzle but includes extras such as a signal box, a porter and trolley, a footbridge and the family dog. The main locomotive in the picture is the ex GWR 'Castle' class 4-6-0, No.5097 Sarum Castle; the latter, designed by Charles Collett is depicted pulling into the station with a passenger service. No.5097 was built in 1939, withdrawn from service in 1963 and scrapped two years later. In the jigsaw picture, a second locomotive waits on the adjacent line. 

Both pictures are typical of Kevin Walsh's work showing a strong affinity between railways and the local community.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Stanier and Gresley

For today's post, 27th November 2015, I have chosen two pictures of jigsaw puzzles each featuring magnificent 'Pacific' 4-6-2 locomotives designed by two of the greatest locomotive engineers, Sir William Stanier and Sir Nigel Gresley.

The first picture features the first, LMS 'Princess Coronation' class 4-6-2 locomotive, No.6220 (BR 46220) Coronation, hauling the prestigious express, the 'Coronation Scot', of 1937. The latter Euston - Glasgow express established a new world record of 114mph during an early test run, headed by No.6220. The engine and coaches were streamlined and liveried in 'Caledonian' blue with matching silver lines, along each side. Malcolm Root's painting is titled Coronation Scot and the jigsaw of the same title is a 500-piece example from King International. It hurts a little for me to say this as a 100% GWR enthusiast, but this class of locomotives represents, for me, the best of British locomotive designs - immensely powerful and very fast. The class of 38, designed by Sir William Stanier (aided by his chief draughtsman) was built between 1937 and 1948 at Crewe Works. Only three members of the class are preserved.

The 'A4' class of 4-6-2 locomotives was designed by Sir Nigel Gresley to head the LNER’s crack expresses from 1935. No.4498 (BR 60007) Sir Nigel Gresley was the engineer's 100th 'Pacific' (4-6-2) locomotive built, and it was fitting that the loco was named after him. The class of 35 was built at Doncaster Works between 1935-38. They were designed specifically for the high-speed, streamlined expresses running from Kings Cross to Newcastle, Glasgow and Edinburgh; the 'Silver Jubilee' train was the first. Class member No.4468 (BR 60022) Mallard, still holds the world record of almost 126mph for a steam locomotive, achieved in 1938 on the downward section of Stoke Bank near Grantham. The jigsaw in the picture is a 300-piece example from Hope featuring No.4468 Sir Nigel Gresley, the title of the puzzle. Six members of the class are preserved, but two are overseas (USA and Canada). The jigsaw photograph shows the locomotive in preservation days.

I don't normally endorse any products in my posts but in this case I am making an exception. In my opinion steam railways and wildlife produce an irresistible combination and a current artist who is not represented in the jigsaw trade, to the best of my knowledge, has taken this combination to heart. Alan Ward paints steam railways and four such paintings of  Gresley ‘A4’ class locomotives, shown on his website, include associated examples of wildlife  - a golden eagle at nest, a pair of kingfishers, a fox with pheasant kill and flying mallards. The painting titles are Golden eagle in the Glens, Kingfisher Country, Quicksilver Fox and Mallard in flight, respectively and the specific locomotives featured are Golden Eagle, Kingfisher, Quicksilver and Mallard. The association between locomotive and painting is obvious in three examples but Quicksilver Fox is an example of artistic licence – the amalgamation of the locomotive name, Quicksilver and the fox. The four paintings would make a superb set of jigsaw puzzles, of great appeal to a wider public. To see these four paintings and other steam railway examples of Alan's go to  

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

A Trio from The Works

Today's post, 18th November 2015, comprises pictures of three jigsaw puzzles marketed by the high street book shop/stationer, The Works. 

The first jigsaw pictured is a 500-piece example titled Steam Train, Staverton Station. The locomotive depicted is one of 100, class '4575' 2-6-2 tank locomotives, No.5526. The wheel configuration is known as the 'Prairie' type. No.5526 was built in 1928, designed by Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Great Western Railway (GWR), Charles Collett. She is pictured on her home preserved railway, The South Devon Railway, at Staverton Station, in early British Railways (BR), 'cycling lion' livery.

The second jigsaw pictured is another 500-piece example, titled Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Train. The engine in the photograph is another of the '4575' class 'Prairie' tanks, No.4588, built in 1927. The locomotive, in early Great Western livery, is heading a passenger service with a 'Devon Belle' observation coach immediately behind the locomotive. The picturesque backdrop shows a host of sailing craft at Dartmouth (?).

The locomotive in the third jigsaw picture is the 'Old Lady' of the GWR, No.3440 City of Truro. This icon of the steam era was built in 1903, one of ten 'City' class 4-4-0 locomotives, designed by William Dean and modified by George Jackson Churchward. The jigsaw is another 500-piece example but it differs from the previous two as it is of the portrait format. The puzzle is oddly titled Staverton Steam Locomotive but the photograph features the 'Old Lady' on the Llangollen Railway at Berwyn Station. She is pictured in very early GWR livery and was believed, by many, to be the first locomotive to clock over 100mph (9th May, 1904). No.3440 is presently on show in the Main Hall at the National Railway Museum, York. 

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

National Jigsaw Day

I was listening to Radio 2 this morning and it was announced that it was National Jigsaw Day, today, November 3rd 2015. I have not heard about it before but it seems appropriate that I post on this special day.

The picture features a Bits and Pieces, 1000-piece jigsaw titled The Railway Children. The artist is Stuart Booth and another puzzle displaying his artwork, Cornish Riviera Limited,  by Otter House, can be found in the post of 18th July 2013. The reasons I have chosen this puzzle are simple - subject and difficulty. It is not an easy puzzle to assemble due to many similar clumps of shape and colour in the tree areas. The composition, comprising a single track branch line in rural UK, an old locomotive and watching children, is highly pictorial and a proven, successful combination. 

The locomotive, heading some old Southern Railway green coaches is an Adams Radial Tank, a famous design from c1885. On this date the Locomotive Superintendant in charge at the London & South Western Railway was William Adams, and his class '415' of 4-4-2T engines, included No.520 - No.30584 in BR days - as in the jigsaw picture.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Poster Style Puzzles

Posters, during the steam era, were extremely common around railway stations and have become collectors items today. Carefully planned original illustrations were completed with bright, block colours and coupled with legends aimed, unashamedly, at prospective customers. They were full of impact if devoid of small detail. Many such posters were based around famous locomotives or named trains.

Today's post, 20th October 2015, includes three pictures in a block colour style, probably with a digital influence, each featuring a famous London & North Eastern Railway Company (LNER) locomotive. The first two have been used in a previous post but the three together constitute a fine tribute to three historic locomotives and their designer, Sir Nigel Gresley.

All are of 500 pieces and marketed by Demand Media Ltd,. The first features one of Sir Nigel Gresley's 'V2' class 2-6-2 locomotives No.4771 (60800 in British Railways' days) Green Arrow. The locomotive is currently a static exhibit in the National Railway Museum (NRM) in York, awaiting overhaul.

The second picture shows perhaps Sir Nigel Gresley's most famous locomotive, 'A1/A3' class 4-6-2, No.4472 Flying Scotsman (60103 in BR days). This locomotive is based at the NRM in York and is almost ready for trials following a massive overhaul spanning several years. Many events, involving No.60103, are planned for early next year at Shildon (an NRM extension) and York.

The third picture features an engine that vies with Flying Scotsman as Britain's most famous steam locomotive - Sir Nigel Gresley's 'A4' class 4-6-2, No 4468 Mallard. This locomotive broke the world record for a steam locomotive in 1938 - almost 126mph - a record that still stands today. She was numbered 60022 in BR days and now stands, immortalised, at the NRM in York. The locomotive in the jigsaw picture is traversing the famous viaduct at Knaresborough in Yorkshire, heading a passenger train.

I hope you agree that the artwork involved is striking and ideal for jigsaw puzzles.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Two More From KG Games

Two jigsaws from K G Games are featured in today's post, 14th August 2015.

Both jigsaws are from the 400-piece series titled Rail Journey and this first example is titled Pendennis Castle at Chester. The static locomotive is ex GWR 'Castle' class 4-6-0 of Charles Collett, No.4079 Pendennis Castle. The picture shows the locomotive at Chester before heading the Ian Allan 'Birkenhead Flyer' back to Birmingham, in 1967.  

The locomotive is one of the more famous GWR locomotives. In 1925 the GWR loaned her to the rival LNER company where she was compared with the new LNER 'A1' class 4-6-2 locomotives. Trials proved her superiority over her rivals. In 1977 she was sold to an Australian iron ore company but repatriated in 2000. The locomotive is currently under overhaul at Didcot Railway Centre.

Jigsaw picture number two features double heading GWR locomotives on the 'Cambrian Coast Express'. The jigsaw is from the same 400-piece series as above and titled On The Cambrian Coast. The two locomotives are an unidentified 'Manor' class 4-6-0 of Collett and a  'Small Prairie' class 2-6-2 locomotive, No.4555 of George Jackson Churchward. 'The Cambrian Coast Express' began in 1927 and ran from Paddington to Aberystwyth and Pwlheli; it was the Shrewsbury - Aberystwyth - Pwllheli lines that tracked the Cambrian Coast in Wales. The line could not support heavy locomotives and the smaller 'Dukedogs' and, later 'Manors' were ideal for the service. Just looking closely at the picture reminds us of how safety and security have changed on the railways since steam days.

A third jigsaw from the Rail Journey series, Caledonian Railway No.123 at Carstairs, is featured in the post of 30th October 2010.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Bluebell Railway

Today's post, 5th August 2015, features pictures of two jigsaws, each showing an early locomotive of the Bluebell Railway.

A short history.

The Lewes and East Grinstead Railway Company was formed to build a railway in 1877 but a year later the line was acquired by the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway (LB&SCR) and completed in 1882. 

The 18 mile line from Lewes to East Grinstead was closed by British Railways in 1958. The Bluebell Railway Preservation Society was formed a year later and initially leased the Sheffield Park-Horsted Keynes part of the line from BR.

The Society ran its first train on 7th August 1960 - the first preserved, standard gauge steam-operated passenger railway in the world to operate a public service.This first train was headed by locomotive No.55 ‘Stepney’ followed by two coaches and locomotive No.323 ‘Bluebell’ (on the rear). Both of these locomotives are shown below in the jigsaws depicted. At this time a trip on the line was a return trip between Sheffield Park and Bluebell Halt but by the end of October the railway had carried thousands of passengers. The Railway was finally allowed to operate into Horsted Keynes in October 1961 - Kingscote station was re-opened in 1994. 

From 2003 the Railway laid track in the direction of East Grinstead and seven years later a Bluebell platform was opened at East Grinstead station. In March 2013 a steam service ran the 11 miles from Sheffield Park to East Grinstead and all trains now operate this complete journey.

Today the railway is managed and run largely by volunteers. Having preserved a number of steam locomotives even before the cessation of steam service on British mainline railways in 1968, today it has a large fleet (over 30) ranging from small 0-6-0 tanks to large 4-6-2 Bulleid 'Pacifics' 

The first picture (left) features the ex Brighton & South Coast Railway 'A1X' class 0-6-0T tank locomotive, No.55 Stepney. Known as 'Terriers' the locomotives were designed by LB&SCR Locomotive Superintendent, William Stroudley, in 1875. The jigsaw is a 500-piece example from Hestair titled Bluebell Railway Engine. The jigsaw photograph appears to have been taken on an 'Edwardian Day' at Sheffield Park Station, as volunteers are dressed in period costume.

The second picture (right) shows the ex South Eastern & Chatham Railway (SE&CR) 'P' class 0-6-0T tank locomotive, No.323 Bluebell. She was built in 1910, one of eight designed by Locomotive Superintendent, Harry Wainright, as improved 'Terriers'. The jigsaw is a 100-piece example from the Hestair Puzzler 100 series, simply titled Bluebell Railway. The station name is not included in the photograph, but if you know for sure which one of the four it is, (Sheffield Park, Horsted Keynes, Kingscote or East Grinstead), please let me know.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Locomotives at Bressingham

In this post, 31st July 2015, I am describing two jigsaw puzzles, each showing a locomotive on exhibition at Bressingham Steam Museum in Norfolk.

Bressingham hosts a garden centre, commercial nursery, gardens and a steam museum. Housed in the latter are steam locomotives, carriages, steam rollers, traction engines, showman's engines and steam waggons. A standard gauge railway has over ¼ mile of track and offers footplate rides.

The first picture shows a 300-piece puzzle from Hope's Railway Series titled Royal Scot. The Stanier 4-6-0, No.6100, Royal Scot, is pictured at Bressingham Steam Museum. She was built in 1927 for expresses on the London Midland & Scottish Railway and rebuilt by British Railways in 1950. She went on to serve another 12 years on the West Coast Main Line and was retired in 1962. The 'Duchess' was then purchased by Billy Butlin and became a star attraction at Butlins Holiday Camp in Skegness, as a static exhibit.

6100 left the Butlins site for the Bressingham Steam Museum in 1971 and was returned to steam in 1972. In 1978 she became a static exhibit again until 1989 before being sold to Bressingham by Butlins in the same year. She was sold again to the Royal Scot Locomotive and General Trust in 2009, and was moved by road to the Heritage workshops in Crewe. In the same year she caught fire en route to a steam gala at the West Somerset Railway while being transported along the M5 Motorway on a lorry. A fire started on the lorry under the loco's leading wheels leading to a long lay-off and more restoration. Royal Scot is expected to steam again in September, this year.

The same photograph is used in the Hestair 100-piece puzzle (Puzzler 100 series). For more information on the Hestair and locomotive No.6100 go to the post of 1st May 2011.

The second photograph shows a 200-piece jigsaw from Ingham Day from the Byegone Days series titled Duchess of Sutherland Locomotive. Depicted at Bressingham is Stanier 4-6-2 'Princess Coronation' class locomotive, No.6233 Duchess of Sutherland. This giant locomotive was built in 1938 at Crewe Works for the London Midland and Scottish Railway to haul express passenger services between London Euston and Glasgow Central, among others. She was retired by British Railways in 1964 and sold to Butlins Holiday Camp at Ayr. The loco was then transferred to the Steam Museum at Bressingham in 1971 where she was used on the demonstration line for footplate rides for the next three years. Unfortunately, problems occurred in her firebox and she was retired once again.  She remained at Bressingham on static display until 1996 when she was acquired by 'The Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust' for restoration. In 2001, No.6233 was restored to operating condition and since then has been a regular performer on the mainline network, mainly as No.46233. 

Monday, 27 July 2015

Record and Pictorial Jigsaws from Ravensburger

Today's post, 27th July 2015, comprises two jigsaws from German manufacturer, Ravensburger. The puzzles depict two of many different elements of the steam railway jigsaw genre; record and pictorial.

The first picture (left) features the 1000-piece puzzle titled Full Steam Ahead, from original artwork by John Austin. W.H. Smith also marketed this jigsaw but under the title Millers Dale (read on).

John's painting depicts the station and twin viaducts at Millers Dale in Derbyshire. The oldest viaduct was built for the Midland Railway in 1862/3 and the second in 1905. The latter doubled the number of lines to four. In his book Smoke, Steam, and Light John describes his passion for painting bridges and viaducts and I must add that he is expert at it. The line through Millers Dale was closed in 1967 following the recommendations enclosed in the Beeching Report but the older viaduct (left, I think) now forms part of the popular Monsal Trail, used by ramblers, horse riders and cyclists.

The passenger train in the painting appears to be headed by a rebuilt ex LMS  'Royal Scot' class 4-6-0 locomotive in early British Railways' days (the London Midland Scottish Railway - LMS - became part of British Railways in 1948). The second viaduct supports a freight train hauled by a small 0-6-0 tender locomotive. 

The second Ravensburger jigsaw, of 500 pieces and titled The Train Driver - part of the Happy Days at Work series - is shown next. My interpretation of the Trevor Mitchell painting is of a family returning from a short holiday (one case) and taking advantage of a friendly driver. Before leaving the station the father, holding one of his sons, converses with the driver whilst his wife and other children look on and listen intently. Another man and boy are included in the composition. The locomotive in close up is ex GWR King class 4-6-0 No.6005 King George II, and the era is early British Railways (the Great Western Railway - GWR - became part of British Railways in 1948). Another ex GWR passenger train is pictured in the background approaching the station: the family dog, a large water crane and a signal box complete the picturesque station scene. The interpretation is in the eyes of the beholder.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Early 19th Century Locomotives

Today's post, 28th June 2015, comprises two photographs of jigsaw puzzles each featuring a locomotive from the 19th century.

The Brighton Railway 'GLADSTONE' class 1882 is one of four, plywood jigsaws showing early steam engines from a series made 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 artwork was taken from a 1960’s Exide Batteries' calendar illustrated by the husband and wife team. Another in the series, A BROAD- GAUGE 8-FOOTER: G.W.R. 1851-1892, can be seen in the post of 9th April 2014. William Stroudley designed the 0-4-2 'B1' class of express locomotives for the London Brighton and South Coast Railway (LB&SCR) between 1882 and 1891. The class of 36 became known as the 'Gladstones' after the first member of the class. No.176 Pevensey (built 1890 withdrawn 1929) is the locomotive in the picture in the superb LB&SCR livery.

The second photograph shows George and Robert Stephenson's famous Rocket locomotive at the opening ceremony of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in 1830. The 400-piece Regency puzzle is titled The Iron Road; the illustrative style artwork is excellent but the artist is not named. My puzzle is housed in a poorly printed box but the puzzle looks superb.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

A Whitman Set

For this post, 13th May 2015, I have chosen a series of four, excellent 1000-piece Whitman puzzles from my collection. The series is titled The World of Steam.

The first picture shows the jigsaw titled Flying Scotsman. Each jigsaw in the series depicts a famous named train produced from the quality illustrations of artist Edgar Hodges. The fastest steam locomotive in the world, 'A4' class 4-6-2 (Pacific) No.4468 Mallard, designed by the immortal (Sir) Nigel Gresley, is pictured at the head of a rake of Gresley teak coaches. The Kings Cross to Edinburgh express is working hard to exit Edinburgh Waverley Station for the return journey. A few trackside workmen are in attendance, a typical Hodges' addition. The locomotive is in London & North Eastern Railways (LNER) livery; 1923-1948. As the locomotive was built in 1938 the picture era is narrowed to 1938-48.

Picture number two features a giant 'King' class 4-6-0 designed by Charles Collett in early British Railways days (1948-56) as signified by the 'cycling lion' BR logo on the tender. The locomotive is pictured storming out of a station (Paddington?) on its way to Penzance, The locomotive is No.6015 King Richard III (built in 1928). The jigsaw is titled Cornish Riviera.

Also from the same series is a jigsaw titled Golden Arrow. This express boat train from Victoria to Dover was often hauled in Southern Railway days (1923-48) by a 'Lord Nelson' class 4-6-0 locomotive of Richard Maunsell. A large or light 4-6-2 (Pacific) locomotive of Oliver Bulleid hauled the train from 1941 (large)and 1945 (light). The locomotive in the jigsaw picture heading the luxurious Pullman coaches is Southern Railway liveried Bulleid 'West Country' class 'Light Pacific' No.21C139 Boscastle, built in 1946 (picture is therefore dated narrowly, 1946-48); the latter date was the date when the Southern Railway became part of British Railways. The exciting headboard, golden arrows on the sides and British and French flags rising from the buffer beam  contributed to a unique experience for viewers of this superb express boat train.

The fourth picture shows the final jigsaw from the Whitman The World of Steam series titled Royal Scot. The express ran between Euston and Glasgow Central on the West Coast main line in direct competition with the 'Flying Scotsman' express, the East Coast main line equivalent. 'Princess Coronation' class 4-6-2 of (Sir) William Stanier, No.46248 City of Leeds, is pictured in Hodges' artwork at speed probably in the Cumbrian Fells. The livery is that of the London Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) and the illustration is based on the era 1956-68, within the British Railways era. The locomotive entered service in 1946 and was withdrawn in 1964 therefore the picture era is 1956-1964.

Three of these puzzles are on sale currently on ebay - link below


Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Two Preserved Locomotives

In this post of 20th May 2015, two photographs are used of jigsaws depicting preserved steam locomotives. Both 500-piece  jigsaws are from the Trains series of four puzzles made by KG Games of Northampton; the other two were described in the post of 21st September 2014.

In the first (left), a 'Jubilee' class 4-6-0, No.5593 Kolhapur, designed by (Sir) William Stanier is shown in the LMS (London Midland & Scottish Railway) 'Crimson Lake' livery. Stanier was appointed Chief Mechanical Engineer of the LMS in January 1932, and between 1934 and 1936 he designed the 'Jubilee' class of 191 passenger locomotives. The LMS Railway began services in January 1923 and ended them in 1948, the year of Nationalisation and British Railways.The jigsaw is simply titled Kolhapur. Jubilee class members preserved are as follows - 5593 Kolhapur, 5596 Bahamas, 5690 Leander and 5699 Galatea. The original, LMS 4-figure numbers were prefixed with the number (4) after Nationalisation in 1948.

The second picture right, shows another of the KG Games Trains series' puzzles titled Oliver Cromwell. The jigsaw, again of 500 pieces, depicts one of the Britannia class of 4-6-2 locomotives designed in the British Railways Standard era, 1948-1968. The 55 members of the 'Britannia' class hit BR metals (track) between 1951 and 1954, under the supervision of Robert Riddles. The last of the class was retired in 1968. Two are preserved -No.70000 Britannia and No.70013 Oliver Cromwell. The location in the jigsaw photograph is an engine shed, possibly its home shed in BR Days -  Carnforth. The Carnforth shed code, 10A between 1963 and 1968, can be seen clearly on the smoke box door.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Three Named Expresses

Today's post, 5th May 2015, comprises photographs of three jigsaw puzzles, each showing a named passenger service.

'The Waverley’ was a St Pancras - Edinburgh express which began as the ‘Thames-Forth Express’ in the late 1920’s. The re-named express, complete with headboard, ran from 1957 until 1968. David Charlesworth’s excellent painting - The Waverley passing Horn’s Bridge Hotel, Chesterfield - was used as a 500-piece jigsaw and re-titled The Waverley at Horn’s Bridge Chesterfield. The puzzle was made exclusively for Country House Treasures, Chesterfield and is shown in the first photograph. Ex London Midland & Scottish Railway (1923-1948) ‘Jubilee’ class 4-6-0 locomotive, No.45561 Saskatchewan, is shown in the painting heading the famous express past the Horn’s Bridge signal box (and hotel?) in the British Railways era (1948 - 1968). 

The second photograph features an ex GWR express 'The Bristolian'. Titled "The Bristolian" - Britains fastest train, the puzzle from Ponda/Ian Allan, comprises 72 wooden pieces. In Vic Welch's artwork the locomotive hard at work is an unidentified member of  Charles Collett's, giant 4-6-0 'King' class, and the setting is British Railways' Western Region. The BR emblem on the tender indicates a date between 1948 and 1956, approximately. 'The Bristolian' was inaugurated in GWR days c1935, without a headboard, and ran between Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads. The headboard in the picture is the first type c1953; a slightly later type incorporated the badges of London and Bristol.

The 'Mid-Day Scot' is the final named express featured in today's post. The service began in 1927 and ran between Euston and Glasgow Central, leaving at around lunchtime from each station. The artwork in this 500-piece jigsaw from the JR Puzzles Nostalgia series, titled Mid-Day Scot, is by Edgar Hodges. Featured is the huge 'Princess Coronation' class 4-6-2 locomotive of (Sir) William Stanier, No. 46243 City of Lancaster. The locomotive is pictured at speed without a headboard: the latter was only introduced c1951, during the British Railways', London Midland Region era. The setting for the painting is clearly the  LMS, (London Midland & Scottish Railway) era, 1923-1948.

Once again I am indebted to Dave Peel's superb book Locomotive Headboards. The Complete Story. I thoroughly recommend the book to anyone interested in British Railways.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Artist Philip D. Hawkins

In past posts I have described the influence of artists on steam railway jigsaw puzzles - Don Breckon, Kevin Walsh, Terence Cuneo, Barry Freeman, George Heiron, John Austin, Malcolm Root, among others, and included a few biographical notes. Following on in the same vein, this post, 21st April 2015, describes two puzzles featuring artwork by Philip D. Hawkins, an artist at the very top of his profession.

Philip’s passion for painting stemmed from his childhood in Winson Green, Birmingham in the 1950's. Here, where LMS and GWR railways crossed within yards of his home, the sights and sounds of steam trains cultivated an immense fascination. His early trainspotting days were spent on coaches with members of the Birmingham Locospotters Club and with friends in cars, on trains and on trusty bicycles. Stations, sheds and locomotive works, nationwide, were all included in his travels. After sitting his 'O' levels he left school immediately and signed on at Birmingham College of Art and Design for courses spanning four years. He graduated as a Technical Illustrator and following several career changes, he joined the ranks of professional artists in 1978. Since then his list of commissions from private and corporate clients can only be described as impressive. He has had two books published of his paintings - in 1998 (Tracks on Canvas) and 2005 (Steam on Canvas), and 32 paintings included in the 1994 book, The Trains We Loved. He is a founder member, past Chairman, Honorary Fellow (1998) and Past President (1988-1998) of the Guild of Railway Artists.

The first picture shows a 1000-piece example from Parker Hilton (Falcon) titled On Time. The painting is the result of a commission from The Birmingham Post & Mail in 1985 to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Great Western Railway (GWR). The location was quite obvious - one of the most famous of GWR stations - Birmingham Snow Hill. According to his first book, Tracks on Canvas, after much deliberation, Philip chose 1947 and platform 7 as the year and specific spot for his painting. 'King' class 4-6-0, No.6008 King James II is pictured with a Paddington-bound train at around mid-day, according to the equally famous clock. 

Featured in the second picture is the Gibsons' 1000-piece jigsaw titled Summer Saturday at Snow Hill. This painting features the station several years later than in the picture described above, when annual seaside holidays by local people were facilitated by the railways. 'The Cornishman' ran from Wolverhampton to Penzance and the particular headboard in Philip's painting was introduced c1957 according to Dave Peel,'s superb book Locomotive Headboards. The Complete Story. The locomotive portrayed is 'Castle' class 4-6-0 No.5070 Sir Daniel Gooch and a 'Prairie' tank 2-6-2,  heading a local service, is also included in the picture.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Steam Trains and Holidays

The combination of steam trains, day excursions and holidays by the sea was popular with artists throughout the steam age and jigsaw manufacturers have not been slow to tap into the same subject pairing. Today's post comprises two photographs of jigsaw puzzles featuring the holiday season in the steam era.

Holiday Express is the appropriate title of a 245-piece jigsaw from Philmar. A Peppercorn ‘A1’ class 4-6-2 locomotive, No.60158 Aberdonian is pictured heading a holiday excursion on the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER), past a signal box, with part of the train positioned beneath a huge signal gantry. Several ‘gangers' are working on the adjacent line. The only logical reference to the post heading however, is the jigsaw title; there are no clues as to the location or destination. Referring to the the early British Railways motif on the tender, the locomotive is operating in early British Railways’ days (1948-56).

Journey by the Sea is a 1000-piece jigsaw made by Falcon Jumbo from artwork by Robin Pinnock. The original 1999 painting was titled From City to Sea and was produced for a Millennium Calendar commissioned by a Leigh-on-Sea art gallery. Two ex LMS tank locomotives heading passenger ‘Specials’ are shown about to cross on a sea front in glorious weather. Several people are pictured on a beach path admiring the sea view and the trains. A particular pairing show a young couple dressed in early 1950’s clothing including ‘teddy boy’ attire for the male. One locomotive identified is a Stanier 2-6-4T locomotive, No.42524, but the nearer locomotive although similar, cannot be clearly identified from the rear view. The motifs on the tenders indicate early and later BR eras (1948-1956, above and post 1956, below).

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Two of Stanier's Finest

Today's post, 22nd March 2015, comprises two pictures of jigsaw puzzles featuring the locomotive designs of William Stanier (later "Sir"). 

William Stanier was the Works Manager of Swindon Works of the Great Western Railway (GWR) when he resigned to take up the position of Chief Mechanical Engineer of the London Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) from January 1932. Between 1934 and 1936 he designed the 'Jubilee' 4-6-0 passenger locomotives and from 1934 also, the highly successful 'Black Five' class 4-6-0, mixed traffic locomotives, which eventually numbered 842. From 1937 he designed the huge 'Princess Coronation' class 4-6-2 express passenger locomotives, some of which were streamlined. Thirty eight were built.

Picture one (left) shows the Hope, 500-piece puzzle from the Railway series, titled Bahamas. No. 5598 was one of the' Jubilee' class of 191 locomotives and is shown in the LMS livery of 'crimson lake'. The locomotive is preserved, one of four 'Jubs' to escape the cutter's torch.the photographer is not named.

The second picture is part of the Steamtrains series of 500-piece puzzles from Falcon. Titled Coronation Scot LMS the 'Princess Coronation' class locomotive is depicted in special 'crimson lake' livery with gilt lining, and is shown hauling matching coaches. The class was often referred to as the 'Duchesses' and three are preserved. The artist was George Heiron.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Two from W.H.Smith

Two pictures of jigsaws marketed by W.H.Smith comprise today's post, 4th March 2015. The artwork in both cases, reflects the Great Western Railway (GWR).  

Picture one shows the 500-piece jigsaw titled At The Station, duplicating the artwork of Gordon Lees. Gordon's painting is impressionist in style with a locomotive that cannot be identified heading chocolate and cream GWR coaches. The station, of four platforms, hosts several passengers seated and standing, a small signal box and a signal gantry. A footbridge joins the two main platforms and a set of GWR carriages are standing at a third platform. The station comprises brick buildings on platforms one and four and is set in a rural location on a sunny day.

The second picture features The Mail Train, the title of a 350-piece example. Rob Johnson’s painting shows a short GWR train in a picturesque branch line station, collecting and/or delivering mail. A red Royal Mail van is prominent in the picture. The locomotive is a 0-4-2 tank type, No 1419. The class was used regularly on GWR branch line trains for push and pull auto trains.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Don Breckon and the GWR

Don Breckon (1935-2013) has had four books published featuring his paintings, a well-worn path for top railway artists – The Railway Paintings of Don Breckon (1982), Country Connections (1986), Don Breckon’s Country Railway Paintings (2003) and Don Breckon’s Great Western Railway (2003). Throughout the books, Don’s passion for the Great Western Railway (GWR) is clearly expressed, although other railways are also represented. Waddingtons issued a series of four, 500-piece jigsaws c1989 titled The Great Western Railway. I have used two of them in previous posts and the remaining two are described below in today's post, 17th February 2015.

On the left is Waiting at Dymock. A GWR pannier tank 0-6-0 locomotive waits at Dymock station, located on the Gloucester - Ledbury branch line, with two chocolate and cream suburban coaches in tow. This picture perfectly shows Don's appreciation of the picturesque, suburban lines which proliferated throughout the West Country.

The second jigsaw is simply titled Picnic. In this picture Don shows us another branch line favourite - the auto train. A diminutive GWR 0-4-2 tank locomotive is pictured heading two auto coaches temporarily interrupting a family picnic. One of two children, a boy, is waving to the passing train and the family car, a beautiful Austin 7, shares the picture space. The community is a subject well represented in many of Don's canvasses; my instinct tells me that Don invites you to join in the painting process and become part of his composition. 

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Two from Waddingtons

One of the most famous British manufacturers of jigsaw puzzles in any collection, is Waddingtons. This post, 25th January 2015, comprises two pictures of steam railway jigsaws puzzles from this iconic manufacturer.

The original company was founded in the 19th century by John Waddington and Wilson Barratt and re-named John Waddington Ltd in 1905. The initial printing business was successfully supplemented from 1922 with the introduction of playing cards. Jigsaw puzzles, using American cutting technology, were added to the company’s expanding portfolio in the early 1930’s. From company HQ in Leeds, Waddingtons produced circular puzzles from the 1930’s, and jigsaw books in the 1940’s. Cardboard puzzles of 1,000 pieces were produced in the mid 1950’s, possibly a world first. The Limited edition Christmas jigsaw puzzles range, revered by collectors, began in 1994. Steam railway puzzles featured regularly in the Waddingtons’ portfolio. In 1994 the rights to Waddington’s games etc., were purchased by American company Hasbro Inc. The original name lived on, however, with Woolworths as a major supplier of 500-piece and 1000-piece jigsaws packaged in the later, bright red boxes. Woolworths also continued the Chad Valley name in games and jigsaw puzzles. Sadly, Woolworths went into administration in December 2008 leaving the future of Waddingtons’ puzzles in the UK, in doubt. The Chad Valley name still survives, however.

The first picture features the 1000-piece jigsaw titled Snow Hill Station copied from the artwork of the maestro himself, Terence Cuneo. The puzzle depicts a ‘Hall’ class 4-6-0 locomotive No.4983 Albert Hall hauling a passenger train into the station. An 0-6-0  pannier tank locomotive is positioned on an adjacent line and the rear end of a guards van can just be seen on the right hand side of the picture. Passengers mingle on the platform beyond the advancing Albert Hall

The second picture features the famous Flying Scotsman locomotive No.4472 in London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) livery. The jigsaw is titled, simply, Flying Scotsman. I am sure that the picture (photograph) shows the locomotive in preservation days as (1) the coaches post date the LNER and (2) a number of enthusiast's heads are clearly visible protruding from coach windows. The vertical format puzzle comprises 350 pieces. 

These puzzles are packaged in more traditional Waddingtons' boxes that pre date the later  red examples.

For more information about No.4472 Flying Scotsman (locomotive) and the 'Flying Scotsman' (express train) go to the post of 28th June 2011.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Artist Terence Cuneo

Today's post, 13th January 2015, comprises four photographs of jigsaw puzzles, each depicting one of a set of Royal Mail postage stamps based on paintings by Terence Cuneo.

Terence Tenison Cuneo illustrated or painted many subjects but had a deep-seated affinity for steam locomotives. He was born in London in 1907 and both his parents, Cyrus and Nell, were artists. I could easily write many posts about this man - not just the best British railway artist of the 20th century  but one of the best known artists. His paintings are sought after world-wide and make premium sums at auction. He attended Chelsea and Slade Schools of Art but left in 1927 to follow in his father’s footsteps by working as an illustrator for magazines, books and periodicals. His canvas subjects included Royalty (for example, the Queen's Coronation); portraits; military scenes; railways; posters; motor-sport; industry; landscapes; wildlife and cartoons : in fact, he produced so many paintings that no one quite knows how many. 

The special postage stamp commission above was from the Royal Mail who wanted to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Great Western Railway. The commission was for famous UK express trains and Cuneo produced five paintings. He was a little worried about his large canvasses being reproduced effectively as tiny images but his concern subsequently proved to be unfounded. The Post Office, philatelists and steam railway enthusiasts alike praised them unreservedly. The 500-piece Waddingtons’ jigsaw puzzles reproduced four of the stamps, making a handsome and popular set. The set comprised the Flying Scotsman (17p stamp), the Golden Arrow (22p), the Cheltenham Flyer (29p) and the Royal Scot (31p). But why was there no fifth puzzle replicating the Cornish Riviera Express on the 34p stamp? The four puzzles are shown in the above photographs.