If you wish to communicate with me about steam trains and related railway art, or to answer my requests for answers to my queries, please email David, at :

Friday, 7 December 2018

The Second, Pair of Puzzles from CHUMS

In this post, 7 December 2018, I am describing the second pair of puzzles mentioned in the previous post - i.e. the final two from a set of four jigsaws showing Classic British Trains, marketed by Chums. Both are of 500 pieces, made by Grovely JHG Puzzles.

The first, left,  is titled Flying Scotsman, Keighley & Worth Valley Railway. The puzzle picture shows the famous locomotive, ex LNER class 'A1/A3' 4-6-2 No.60103 Flying Scotsman, heading a passenger service across a road at Oakworth. Gathered steam enthusiasts are positioned to photograph the passing train and a single, signal gantry is prominent. The blog source of more information about Flying Scotsman, the locomotive and the named train, is described  in the previous post.

The second puzzle, right, is titled Jinty No. 47406, Idridgehay. Ex LMS class '3F' 0-6-0T tank locomotive, No.47406 was the 147th locomotive to leave the famous Barry Scrapyard (South Wales) in 1983. She was one of 422 built between 1924 and 1931 and was withdrawn from BR service in 1967; she has been based at the Grand Central Railway, at Loughborough, since 2010. The jigsaw photograph however, shows the loco on the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway, at Idridgehay. The railway runs from Wirksworth to Duffield in the Derbyshire Peak District, a distance of around 9 miles. A small extension of less than 1 mile joins Wirksworth to Raventor, close to the High Peak Trail and National Stone Centre. The jigsaw photograph was probably taken in 2017 when No.47406 was visiting the EVR.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

Two of four from CHUMS

Today's post, 18 November 2018,  features half of a quartet of super jigsaws retailed by Chums, but from the Grovely JHG Jigsaws stable.

I tried to purchase a set of 4 steam railway jigsaws from Chums, close to Christmas last year, but was told that they had sold out and no more were expected. This year I reciprocated much earlier and bought the current set of 4 featuring Heritage Railway photographs of excellent quality (not always the case with photographs). The two published here are (left) Flying Scotsman, Goathland and (right) Union of South Africa, Oakham, locomotives at the forefront of main line steam. Information on Flying Scotsman, locomotive and train, can be found in the post of 28th June 2011; just click on the year in the side bar archive, and the posts will appear. Goathland is a station on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. The village is famous as the set for the TV series Heartbeat.

Union of South Africa (No.60009)was designed by Sir Nigel Gresley of the L.N.E.R. and appeared in 1937 as No.4488 Osprey. She was re-named a little later to commemorate the founding of the Union of South Africa. Unfortunately for steam enthusiasts and class 'A4' lovers in particular, owner John Cameron is insistent that the locomotive will be retired in April 2019, along with his 'K4' class 2-6-0 locomotive, The Great Marquess. He intends to build a special visitor centre for both on his farm in Scotland. Oakham is a station in Rutland.

Note: (May 2019) John's desire to retire No.60009 to a visitor centre on his Fife farm are on hold, as permission has not been granted by his local council. Since then however, the loco has been relieved of main line duties, awaiting a decision whether serious repairs will be sanctioned.

Tuesday, 23 October 2018


The centre of attraction in today's post, 23rd October 2018, is the new-ish, 4-6-2 steam locomotive No.60163 Tornado. I say this because she is the most recent steam locomotive to be built in the UK, (at Darlington Works in 2008), and the first one since Evening Star graced BR metals (rails) in 1960. Tornado has been a regular attraction on the Main Line and at Heritage Railway events since her introduction in 2008. She is the only LNER, Peppercorn 'A1' class locomotive in existence, as the other members of the class were all scrapped in the British Railways' era.

Tornado is also the only steam locomotive to reach 100mph for over 50 years, the first being Flying Scotsman or City of Truro - depending on whether you are an LNER or a GWR  enthusiast. She was built for the A1 Locomotive Trust and photographs of the engine have been arranged as a montage in the jigsaw above. The 1000-piece jigsaw, simply titled 60163 'TORNADO', was produced by Ryco Crafts of Ripon.

Friday, 21 September 2018

Gibson's Gift Box.

In this post, 20 September 2018, I am describing a jigsaw puzzle from Gibsons which is sold in a small gift box, rather than the standard, metallic blue box.

The jigsaw, titled Crossing the Ribble, is of 500 pieces and features the superb artwork of GRA (Guild of Railway Artists) member, Stephen Warnes.

Helwith Bridge (spelled incorrectly on the box) is a popular location on the Settle to Carlisle railway line, frequented by photographers. The famous line is  affectionately referred to as 'the long drag'. The 5-arch bridge spans the River Ribble in Upper Ribblesdale around 5 miles from the market town of Settle.

In Stephen Warnes' painting, the Fowler/Stanier rebuilt 'Royal Scot' class, 4-6-0 locomotive No.46113 Cameronian, is pictured passing over Helwith Bridge, in the early 1960's. The mountain in the background, I think, is Pen-y gent (email me if I'm wrong).

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Queen Victoria's Railway Saloon

This post, 6th September 2018,  features a jigsaw puzzle that fits perfectly into the blog title even though it is single railway carriage with no steam engine in sight; but what a carriage.... Titled Queen Victoria's Royal Saloon, the jigsaw is a 500-piece example produced for the National Railway Museum, York, by Country House Treasures. 

Towards the end of the 19th Century, the UK steam railway network had grown at a rapid rate, and most of the major Railway Companies in the UK had built elaborately decorated carriages for use by the Royal Family. Queen Victoria's London and North Western Railway Saloon was originally built in 1869 as a special pair of coaches, one each for day and night. The cost was £1,800 and Victoria paid £800 of her own money towards the cost. In 1895 the two carriages were rebuilt and merged into a single unit. The jigsaw photograph shows a view of the main interior lounge; all of the colour schemes were chosen by the Queen herself. The L&NWR Saloon was a personal favourite of the Queen and in 1897, was used for her Diamond Jubilee Celebrations. The Saloon became a major exhibit in the National Railway Museum, in 1975. A replica was installed into an exhibition at Ballater Station on Royal Deeside, near Balmoral, in 2008. On the 'Wapedia-Wiki:British Royal Train' website, the purposely constructed Royal Train carriages are listed in chronological order through to our present Queen's Silver Jubilee year, 1977.

Saturday, 28 July 2018

Two Wooden 'Oldies'

Today's post, 28 July 2018, comprises two photos, each showing an old wooden jigsaw puzzle. The reverse side of the first puzzle is also shown. 

The first, of 100 pieces and titled The 'Torbay Express' drawn by King Richard 1st Engine, was made by Cotswood. A quick look on 'The Jigasaurus' website (link on the right), indicates that this company may have been in production from the 1930's. A 'King' class 4-6-0, locomotive, No. 6027 King Richard 1st, is pictured heading the famous express passenger service along the picturesque south west coastline near Dawlish, a favourite location for many railway artists. The artist is not named in the jigsaw picture. The 'King' class of 4-6-0 locomotives, designed by Charles Collett for the Great Western Railway, were the most powerful 4-6-0 locomotives in Britain. The picture on the right is the reverse of the jigsaw and indicates the pattern used by the stack cutter. A number of jigsaws were cut simultaneously in stacks, with the pinholes in each corner showing where they were fastened together. 

This second picture shows a 250-piece wooden jigsaw titled Merchant Taylors SRy, made by the J Salmon Company under the brand name 'Academy'. A producer of both cardboard and wooden puzzles, the J. Salmon Company was a significant player in the jigsaw industry from the 1920's until the 1950's. The 'Schools' class of 4-4-0 locomotives was designed by the Southern Railway's Chief Mechanical Engineer, Richard Mounsell. They proved to be Europe's most powerful 4-4-0 locomotives and were named after English Public Schools; No.910 Merchant Taylors, was one of 40. The artwork is from the famous 'F. Moore' stable. There was never an artist by this name; a number of artists worked under the 'F. Moore' name, owned by the Locomotive Publishing Company. Thomas Rudd was the most prominent artist but others such as Murray Secretan and Robert Bernard Way were also likely contributors.

Monday, 9 July 2018

Railway Poster Collection

In today's post, 9th July 2018, I am showing two photographs of jigsaws, each featuring a railway poster. The original artwork in both was by Terence Cuneo, two of many railway paintings used by British Railways in this way; many of them by Cuneo. 

Cuneo’s first for BR was produced c1947 (ready for 1948) titled Giants Refreshed. Another fine Cuneo poster c1951 was Forging Ahead, included in the Falcon 500-piece jigsaw Old Advertisements – Transportation, a composite of railway posters and advertisements. Other Cuneo posters for BR include Royal Border Bridge (1946), Talyllyn Railway, (1960’s) and Clapham Junction (1962). From foundation in 1948, British Railways (BR) commissioned a large number of posters. Some posters from Cuneo originals, when appearing at recent auctions, have realised thousands of pounds. 

Scotland For Your Holidays, is a Cuneo poster from 1952. It has been reproduced as a 1000-piece jigsaw by This England Publishing Ltd., as part of The Railway Poster Collection. Oddly, the poster features a Scottish icon - The Forth Railway Bridge, spanning the Firth of Forth. To paint this picture Cuneo was perched on a girder, battered by 50mph gales though wearing many layers of clothing, and frozen to the bone. He survived this ordeal and later, converted his sketches into this marvellous painting. The express train is headed by Gresley 'A4' class 4-6-2 No.60031 Golden PloverThe horizontal direction of the exhaust  is evidence of the gales.

The Royal Albert Bridge Saltash is another superb Cuneo poster from 1959, produced for the Western Region of BR. This poster has also been reproduced as a jigsaw by This England  as part of the same  series. The poster was produced to commemorate the Centenary of the famous Brunel-built bridge. Cuneo tried engine cab rides and bridge walks before finding the ideal spot for his painting. A 'Castle' class 4-6-0 locomotive is depicted heading a passenger service over the single line bridge. 

Monday, 25 June 2018

Current puzzles from W. H. Smith and Gibsons

Today's post, 25th June 2018, comprises two current 500-piece jigsaws from well known manufacturers.

The first (left) is titled The School Outing from Gibsons replicating the artwork of Derek Roberts. The picture features a group of school children, boys and girls, dressed in vivid green uniforms. .What appears to be an ex GWR 'Manor' class 4-6-0 locomotive, No.7811 Dunley Manor, in unusual red livery, is  receiving an overhaul in a railway maintenance department. The schoolchildren are unaware of the foreground newspaper carrying the headline 'Beechings Axe' and 'Steam to Go'. The paper dates the scene to 1963, the date of the report by Dr Richard Beeching titled  the' Reshaping of British Railways'. 
Can anyone add information on the scene and an ex GWR loco in red livery? (email address above)

The second puzzle (right) from W. H. Smith, is simply titled Steam Train Station, and appears to be a copy of a photograph, with some added effects, from Nigel Chilvers, Advocate-Art. The scene is a station with a short train, headed by an ex GWR 'Castle' class 4-6-0 locomotive, just arriving (?) to pick up passengers or leaving (?) having disembarked passengers. Some people  are dressed in period costume  hinting at a special 'Step Back in Time' day on a Heritage Railway. The locomotive, No.5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe, is possibly the most reliable and frequently seen preserved  locomotive of recent years. Is that a diesel locomotive at the rear of the train? A porter with an old trunk, other station staff, added smoke and steam, and a few birds add interest to the scene.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Canny Minds Trio

Today's post, 17th May 2018, features a new (I think) player in the steam train jigsaw market, Canny Minds Ltd., of Cheltenham. Nicholas Trudgian famous for his landscape and aviation paintings and less so for steam trains, is the chosen artist. The result - three paintings transformed into superb, 1000-piece jigsaws.

First up is a jigsaw titled Seaside Excursion. Ex GWR 2-6-2 Prairie Tank, No.4559, is pictured with a short passenger train passing alongside the East Looe river. The train, packed with holidaymakers, is destined for the golden sands and fishing harbour of the picturesque Cornish town of Looe. The train is heading along the single line branch from Liskeard. Nicholas has painted a scene from 1959.

The next puzzle is titled Full Steam Ahead. In the picture BR Western Region  4-6-0, No.5073 Totnes Castle, complete with 'The Cornishman' headboard, is heading the express passenger train over Stanway Viaduct near Toddington. The Cotswold Hills form a picturesque backdrop as the train steams from Penzance to Wolverhampton.

The third jigsaw is titled The Glory of Steam and features what was designed to be the epitome of British steam, giant locomotive No.71000 Duke of Gloucester. The locomotive didn't live up to the 'hype' alas; it was troubled with setbacks. Again, set in BR days (c1955) in the artwork, 'The Duke' is shown heading the down 'Mid Day Scot' through the spectacular Lune Gorge towards its destination - London Euston. 'The Duke' is currently based at Tyseley undergoing a massive overhaul; mainline representation is the goal, possibly in 2019. 

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Another from Wentworth and Philip Hawkins

This post, 11 April 2018, describes the latest, Wentworth steam railway jigsaw puzzle, titled On Time. The wooden, laser cut puzzle is of Wentworth's superb quality; railway related 'whimsies' are included among the 250 pieces.  Larger puzzles are available. Click on the picture to increase its size, and see if you can spot the specially cut pieces, or 'whimsies'. Previous collaborations between Wentworth and Philip Hawkins resulted in equally superb puzzles Holiday Time at Snow Hill**, Winter Blizzard and Roaring Through Retford.

** Still available - check the Wentworth website. Also type Winter Blizzard in the search bar to the right and my previous post including this puzzle (one of my all time favourite steam railway jigsaws) will appear.

The artist is Philip Hawkins, a Fellow of the Guild of Railway Artists who is recognised globally, as an artist at the top of his profession. Philip's original painting, a commission from the Birmingham Post and Echo, commemorated the 150th Anniversary of the Great Western Railway (GWR) in 1985. According to Philip's book, Tracks on Canvas, his painting was based on the London Paddington platform (No.7) at Birmingham Snow Hill Station, in 1947. The station was a very important 'hub' on the GWR network. The famous Craven 'A' clock was included plus two other important components - the small boy in the foreground is Philip's son Ben and the station master in the centre is based on the incumbent at the time, Arthur Hammond Emsden. The train waiting in the station is the noon  service to Paddington; just 5 minutes to go according to the clock.

Small but important additions to the base composition is a small girl attracted to the young fireman resting at the engine cab window, an elderly lady searching for her ticket, aided by the station master, and other passengers in various poses.

From the steam railway perspective,  the locomotive in the picture is the giant 'King' class 4-6-0, No.6008 King James II,  built in 1928 at Swindon Works, and designed by Charles Collett. The engine was withdrawn from service in 1962.

It is interesting to note that the year (1947) chosen by Philip for his artwork is the year previous to the Nationalisation of the Railways.

Follow this link to the Wentworth site for the On Time jigsaw....

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Two Vertical Jigsaw Puzzles

Today's post, 29 March 2018, features two jigsaws produced by the same company but under different  names.

The first picture shows a 600-piece jigsaw from Sovereign Publications  (Cambridgeshire; est. c1983), in the vertical format, and titled MR 0-6-0 No.43924. The Fowler, 0-6-0 tender locomotive was built for the Midland Railway at Derby Works in 1920. Her claim to fame is that she was the first, of  over 200 locomotives, to be rescued from the famous Barry Scrapyard, in 1968. She was purchased from the original group of enthusiasts by the  Keighley & Worth Valley Railway in 1990. Following a huge overhaul in 2011, she has been a regular performer on the railway. The photographer is not named.

The second picture features a 750-piece jigsaw in the vertical format, from Moat House Products (Cambridgeshire; est c1995). Both jigsaws in this post, and their boxes, show incredible similarities. This is hardly surprising as they were from the same company - just different brand names. This puzzle is titled Ivatt class 2, 2-6-0 No.46443. The locomotive was built by BR at Crewe in 1950, and finally purchased by the Severn Valley Railway in 1972, two years after appearing at the SVR Opening Event. She is currently awaiting overhaul in the Engine House at Highley. The jigsaw picture shows the Oldbury Viaduct and Daniel's Mill, one of the scenic views from the SVR. The photographer is not named.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Latest from Wentworth

A recent steam railway puzzle from Wentworth is the subject of today's post, 12th March 2018. A 250-piece, laser-cut, wooden example (available in larger sizes), the jigsaw features a superb painting by John Austin, one of the very best of British railway artists. John is a Fellow of the Guild of Railway Artists and has won 20 of the last 21, annual members' competitions. That's how good he is.

The title is The 50th Anniversary of the Severn Valley Railway. The largest Gala of the Anniversary Year 2015, was a four-day event staged in September. The jigsaw is enhanced by several, intricately cut, railway-related whimsies merged into the puzzle. I have included 12 of the whimsies in a separate picture - see if you can spot them in the jigsaw. If you wish to see more of John's jigsaw work, or of Wentworth puzzles, just use the search bar above, right.

This 'SVR 50th Anniversary' jigsaw can be found directly through this link -

The first meeting of enthusiasts to re-open the railway (closed in April 1963), was held at  The Coopers Arms in Kidderminster on July 6th 1965. The railway now runs from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster and is around 16 miles long.

John appears to have re-created a scene from 1969 involving a line up of 4 locomotives at Bridgnorth Station. The locos were (l to r)...

Ex BR Ivatt class '2MT' 2-6-0, No.46443, built at Crewe in 1950 and owned by the 'SVR 26443 Fund'. She is out of service at the current time, awaiting overhaul. Known locally as 'The People's Engine'.

Ex GWR class '2251' 0-6-0 tender locomotive, No.3205, built at Swindon in 1946, designed by Charles Collett. She is preserved at the South Devon Railway but currently out of service awaiting overhaul.

Ex BR Ivatt class '4MT' 2-6-0, No.43106, built at Darlington Works in 1951 and owned by the 'Ivatt Class 4 Group'. She is preserved at the SVR and affectionately known as 'The Flying Pig'.

Ex LMS Stanier class '8F' 2-8-0,  No.48773, built in 1940 by the North British Locomotive Company in Glasgow to serve the War Department during WWII. She is based at the SVR but currently in the Engine House at Highley.

The strong diagonal in John's composition lends impact to the picture and the busy railway scene is evidence of his innate understanding of spatial awareness and perspective.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Flying Scotsman and Kevin Walsh

This post, 27 February 2018, features pictures of two current jigsaw puzzles displaying the artwork of Kevin Walsh. His paintings of  Flying Scotsman, train and/or locomotive, have been used by jigsaw manufacturers on several previous occasions; some are described in previous posts on this blog (use the search bar).

The first picture shows a 500-piece puzzle from Gibsons titled Back on Track. It bears some resemblance to previous works by Kevin but the inclusion of a MG M-type Midget adds more  transport interest.  The LNER  'A1' class (later 'A3')  4-6-2 locomotive,  No.4472 Flying Scotsman, is pictured at speed heading the train of the same name. The location is a level crossing with a man and boy (father and son?) watching intently from behind the closed gate. A bright red, Vintage MG sports car, c1930, competes favourably with the locomotive for interest in the picture, and a signal box completes the composition.

A Falcon de luxe jigsaw of 1000 pieces is up next, titled Flying Scotsman at Kings Cross. The locomotive is standing in the London Terminus heading carmine and cream BR coaches as the driver appears to be in conversation with a station official. Prominent in the picture is a family group, a trainspotter, several other passengers and luggage of various types. Milk churns add more interest.  The dog, so common in railway art is replaced with the station cat. Kevin's artwork shows the locomotive with the number 60103,  acquired after nationalisation (as British Railways) in 1948. Previous numbers were 502 followed by 103, both in 1946. The German-style smoke deflectors were added c1960. The blue headboard was used from c1950 - the two discs each bearing the emblem of Scotland (thistle), and England (rose).*

The sequence of numbers carried by Flying Scotsman over the years was as follows -  1472 (1923); 4472 (1924); 502 (Jan 1946); 103 (May 1946); 60103 (1948).

* From Dave Peel's brilliant book,  Locomotive Headboards - The Complete Story.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Artist Trevor Mitchell.

In this post, 30 January 2018, I am featuring three jigsaws, each promoting the artwork of Trevor Mitchell. The artist, who began his trade at Bradford Art College, has come to the forefront in steam railway jigsaw artwork in recent years, as the genre becomes more popular with manufacturers. Currently in my inventory of 450+ steam railway jigsaws, the artwork in approximately twenty of them, is accredited to Trevor Mitchell.  At least seven manufacturers use his illustrative style, including the three detailed below.

This picture shows the 1000-piece jigsaw from W. H. Smith titled Parcel for Canal Cottage. The composition is very busy with at least four modes of transport integrated into a rural scene. A parcel is being delivered to a thatched cottage by a postman; his Morris 'Z' chassis van - produced 1940-1953 - is parked beside him. The model of van helps to date the scene. An 0-6-0 pannier tank, of the Great Western Railway is pictured in the background, shunting a few wagons and a toad van, on a branch line or siding. In between is a family group navigating a narrowboat along a canal.  A pair of bicycle riders, man and woman, on the canalside path, complete the transport foursome. Other cottages, trees, fields and ducks complete an idyllic scene.

The second jigsaw featuring Trevor's artwork is a House of Puzzles example titled Passing By. This composition also uses a train, a canal boat and a cyclist to advantage but this time the train is transporting the Royal Mail. The nets, used to snatch the parcels from lineside posts, are clearly visible on the sides of the coaches. An LMS Stanier* 'Black V' class 4-6-0 locomotive, No.5278, heads the mail train as it traverses a canal bridge. A working canal boat with driver and dog, travel sedately along the canal beneath, towards a lock appearing in the background. On a canalside towpath, a male cyclist and his dog acknowledge their counterparts on the canal boat.  

The third jigsaw shows a 500-piece jigsaw titled Full Steam Ahead. The superb wooden jigsaw is made by Wentworth and includes the legendary 'whimsies'. Pictured leaving a main line station is another LMS Stanier* 'Black V' class 4-6-0 locomotive, No.5424,  heading a passenger service. A LNER locomotive in 'Apple Green' livery is pictured nearby as a permanent way foreman, with a red flag, looks on attentively. To the left of the picture is an example of a famous Gresley* 'Teak' coach. The station name is not shown but it must be a mixed region example, as both LMS and LNER locomotives are pictured together.

* Sir William Stanier and Sir Nigel Gresley were brilliant chief mechanical engineers of the London Midland Scottish railway (LMS) and London and North Eastern Railway (LNER), respectively.