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Friday, 13 December 2019

Spot the Difference....

Today's post, 13 December 2019,  features a puzzle from one of my favourite companies - House of Puzzles - based in Invergordon. It is a 1000-piece example from their 'Spot the Difference' range and includes the obligatory (for this blog), steam train. The jigsaw title is Ready to Roll. There are 15 differences between the box and jigsaw pictures. It's difficult switching between screens when you have downloaded the blog pics, but try and find the differences; some are quite obvious.

Several passengers are included in Keith Stapleton's picture. Some are boarding the train on the left, some are just hanging around whilst others are slightly visible in the first carriage of the train about to leave the station. There is plenty of colour throughout. Three children, a dog, luggage trolleys, cases, baskets, guard, porter, engine driver and two trains are prominent, in a 'busy' composition. Summer holidays, is the likely theme. The locomotive heading the train and 'ready to roll', is one of William Stanier's rebuilt 'Royal Scot' class of 4-6-0 wheel configuration.

Although the locomotive appears to be a rebuilt Royal Scot locomotive bearing number 46106 in the jigsaw picture, No.46106 was named Gordon Highlander; but there does not appear to be a name-plate on the engine in the painting. The same locomotive was the only 'Scot' to retain straight BR smoke deflectors.  

Monday, 25 November 2019

Two jigsaws from Gibsons

Today's post, 25 November 2019, comprises two pictorial, current jigsaw puzzles from Gibsons. Both are available from numerous outlets and feature the artwork of two members of the prestigeous Guild of Railway Artists (G.R.A.).

The first (left) is a 1000-piece example titled All Aboard to Keswick; the superb painting is by Stephen Warnes. In a summer setting, Braithwaite Station - close to Bassenthwaite Lake and Derwentwater -   is the focal point as passengers wait for the train for Keswick, a gateway to the Lake District. The locomotive at the head of the train is the 0-6-0 tender engine, No.58396, designed for the L&NWR (London & North Western Railway) by Francis Webb. It belonged to a class of locomotives nicknamed the "Cauliflowers', because of their appearance when viewed from a distance. Braithwaite Station looks immaculate in an early 1950's setting, with adults and excited children watching the train slowly approaching. A luggage trolley and flower beds add to the holiday ambience, supplemented by the background mountains and a semaphore signal.

The second jigsaw, titled Corfe Castle Crossing, is a 500-piece example showing the excellent artwork of Gerald Savine. The Swanage Railway is represented here with the famous Corfe Castle in the background. The same scene, featuring earlier locomotives and trains, has been painted by many artists since the opening of the Wareham-Swanage branch line in 1885. The Swanage Railway Society took over the line in 1972 following closure in the same year. British Railways class '4' 2-6-4 tank engine, No.80078, emerged from Brighton Works in early 1954 and was withdrawn from service in 1964.  It eventually arrived at Barry Scrapyard (1966) and was rescued in 1976 by the Southern Steam Trust. 80078 first steamed on the Swanage Railway in October 1999.

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Artist Bryan de Grineau

Today's post, 26 October 2019, features a 150-piece wooden jigsaw by A .V. N. Jones & Co. Ltd from the 1930's.

The title is "The Royal Scot"  but also on the box lid are the words The Famous Scottish Express of the L.M.S.Railway and SCOT PASSES SCOT. The artwork is by Bryan de Grineau.

Bryan de Grineau (1883-1957) was well known in the early-to-mid twentieth century for his automotive artwork especially for The Motor magazine and later, as a war correspondent for the Illustrated London News. He also painted several railway posters for the LMS in the 1930’s. He was born Charles William Grineau and used several pseudonyms in his lifetime in his quest for artistic fame. Three Hornby Book of Trains’ titles, between 1937 and 1940, used artwork by de Grineau on the front cover - No.6201 Princess Elizabeth (1937-38); No.6005 King George II (1938-39) and No.6231 Duchess of Atholl (1939-40). The paintings are superb and the first example No.6201 Princess Elizabeth has been marketed as a1000-piece jigsaw puzzle by The Works, high street store, (see post of 13 March 2016). The other two de Grineau paintings would also look superb as jigsaw puzzles. Bryan also produced artwork for the Meccano Magazine.

The highly collectible 150-piece, wooden jigsaw from A.V.N.Jones & Co. Ltd, shown above, features 'Royal Scot' class 4-6-0 No 6110, Grenadier Guardsman. The original painting by de Grineau was produced for a 1937 L.M.S. poster titled Scot passes Scot, promoting the famous 'Royal Scot' passenger service between Glasgow, Edinburgh and London Euston. The poster features No.6110 heading the famous train on the West Coast Main Line passing the same exress travelling in the opposite direction. The painting was also used more recently on a Hornby tea mug sold by a well known  High Street store, and in 2019, as the front cover of The Times - Golden Years of Rail Travel, book.

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

50-piece Chad Valley Puzzle.

In focus today, 17 September 2019, is a small, early Chad Valley jigsaw comprising 50 pieces. It is cut from "selected" plywood and housed in a very crude cardboard box displaying the words, "Made at the Chad Valley Works Harborne England".

The simple, illustrative artwork shows a GWR Express with a 'King' class 4-6-0  locomotive at the head.  The location appears to be the red cliffs and sea wall around Dawlish. As to the origin of the jigsaw I refer to the excellent "Compendium of British Jigsaw Puzzles of the 20th Century" by Tom Tyler. Included in a long list of Chad Valley jigsaws, is a 1935 set of six, 50-piece puzzles under the heading Famous Trains. I suspect that my example is one of this set. The artist is not named.

Friday, 30 August 2019

A Waddingtons Zodiac puzzle

In today's post, 30 August 2019, I am describing a Waddingtons' cardboard puzzle from around the mid 20th century. One of the biggest names in jigsaw puzzles, Waddingtons, began making jigsaw puzzles in the early 1930's. They had bought in die cutting technology from America, but it took many years of development before top quality jigsaws could be made. The company survived until 1994 when they were taken over by American company Hasbro Inc. The original name lived on however, with Woolworths as the major supplier. 500 and 1000-piece puzzles were packaged in the instantly recognisable red boxes. Woolworths went into administration in 2008 leaving the Waddingtons name in doubt. 

Canon Street station is depicted in the Waddington’s Zodiac 400-piece jigsaw titled Train Departure. A ‘Schools’ class 4-4-0 locomotive, No.30926 Repton, is pictured leaving the station heading a passenger train in British Railways' days (Repton was originally numbered 926 in Southern Railway days). The station dominates the backdrop. A second steam train is also exiting the station on the adjacent line. The illustrative artwork is unsigned but is very similar to Robert Nixon's oil painting titled Canon Street Station (see In Robert's painting, 'Schools' class 4-4-0, No 900 Eton is  heading out of the station with a passenger train, in the Southern Railway era. Both of the additional trains are also in similar positions in Robert's painting.

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

The UK's oldest working steam locomotive.

A puzzle aimed at children, but of 500-pieces and tited Steam train in the snow, was sold at Wilko’s stores around Christmas time, 2017. The preserved ex Furness Railway, 0-4-0 locomotive, No. 20, owned by the Furness Railway Trust, is shown heading a clerestory coach passing a winter village scene. Watching on intently are children sat on a nearby gate. The main attractions are the handsome tender locomotive, the driver dressed as Santa, and a group of children building a snowman in the  field, opposite. The famous ‘Indian Red’ livery of the Furness Railway adorns the coach and locomotive; the latter built by Sharp Stewart & Co. of Manchester, in 1863. The artist of this attractive illustrative painting is not named. The loco was running on the Ribble Steam  Railway based at Preston Docks, but is now based at Shildon; it is the country's oldest working steam locomotive.

Because early/mid-19th century locomotives are rare subjects for artists or jigsaw manufacturers, I am delighted that this 1863 example has been featured. For this reason, it should be part of any steam railway jigsaw collection.

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Montage of Barry Freeman's Paintings

It seems logical that, following on from the previous post, we continue with the Barry Freeman theme for today's post, 29 June 2019. The title of today's Gibsons' 1000-piece puzzle,  is Memories of Steam, a superb montage of nine of Barry's best paintings.  One of the paintings, Cities of Lancaster, was included in the previous post, as 500-piece puzzle.

The titles of the paintings are as follows (numbered 1 to 9, left to right,  top to bottom);

1 Memories of Sandown   2 The Haymarket Wanderer   3 Return To Base   4 Autumn Frosts

5 Living Legend   6 Midland Revival   7 Star Quality   8 Cities of Lancaster   9 Western Workhorse.

Nos 1, 2, 3, 7 and 9 can be seen, and are superbly described, in Barry's book - The Railway Paintings of Barry J. Freeman. 

Most of the above paintings have been reproduced as individual jigsaw puzzles and several can be viewed on the blog - just input Barry Freeman into the search bar and they will appear.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Four 'Classics' from Waddingtons and Barry Freeman

I can't explain why I have not used these four Waddington's jigsaws on my blog before now, 23 May 2019. I have had them in my collection for many years (since 1995) and always considered them as 'classic' steam train puzzles. I have resisted the temptation to sell them when downsizing recently as they mirror four of Barry Freeman's best paintings in my opinion, (see his book The Railway Paintings of Barry Freeman). Barry's paintings, clearly defined and evocative, were ideal for jigsaw production. The four puzzles, of 500 pieces each, were issued under the series title of Great Days of Steam

The first is titled Winter Wayfarers and the painting has also been used by Gibsons as a panoramic, 636-piece example. The latter is described in the blog of 7 March 2012. The 'Coronation Scot' train in blue and silver livery is pictured speeding past a canal in a 'winter wonderland'. Two barges are pictured on the canal and an elderly dog walker observes the scene from the opposite canal bank.  The 4-6-2 'Princess Coronation' class locomotive at the head of the train is No.6221, Queen Elizabeth. 

Cities of Lancaster depicts the huge 4-6-2 locomotive, No. 46243 City of Lancaster, pulling into the station of the same name, on the West Coast Main Line. Both 6221 above, and 46243 were designed by (Sir) William Stanier as part of the 'Coronation' class of 38 express locomotives for the London Midland & Scottish Region (LMS).

Summer at Saltern Cove features a 'Star' class, 4-6-0 locomotive, No. 4072 Tresco Abbey, designed by George Jackson Churchward for the Great Western Railway (GWR). The locomotive, converted to a 'Castle' class example in 1938, is pictured hauling typical GWR chocolate and cream carriages along the Cornish coast.

The fourth jigsaw in the series is Sharing the Moment. Barry has painted double heading GWR locomotives speeding past a lock on the Kennet & Avon Canal. The leading locomotive is 'Saint' class 4-6-0, No.2982 Lalla Rookh, with 'Castle' class 4-6-0 No.4093 Dunster Castle, behind. In the lock on the canal is a huge barge Unity which just fits the available space. Two shire horses with a handler are shown beside the lock. No.2982 was a George Jackson Churchward design; No.4093 was designed by Charles Collett. 

Friday, 19 April 2019

Clementoni panorama

Today's jigsaw, 19 April 2019, is a 1000-piece Clementoni example cut into a large panoramic letterbox shape and titled Towards Dartmoor.

In Peter Webster's artwork two small passenger trains are shown in a two-line country station, (South Devon?) hauled by an 0-6-0 pannier tank, in reverse, (right) and possibly, a small 2-6-2 Prairie tank (left). The  pannier tank  headed train is signalled to leave the station; the second train appears to be stationary. A half cab, single-deck bus is pictured in the forecourt, with two cars of similar vintage. Several passengers are distributed throughout the composition.

It is a large, imposing jigsaw puzzle which attracted many admiring glances whilst on show on my dining room table, for a couple of days, following completion. Clementoni is an Italian company: input Clementoni into the search bar to see other steam train jigsaws from this company.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Snow Day

Today, 22 March 2019, I am describing a W.H.Smith jigsaw puzzle comprising the obligatory steam train among several winter village cameos.


The jigsaw, titled Snow Day, is of 500 pieces and features the illustrative artwork of Trevor Mitchell. A Great Western Railway (GWR) prairie tank locomotive is shown passing over a level crossing. The date is possibly the mid 1940's as the GWR became the Western Region of British Railways from 1948.There are lots of cameos in Trevor's composition including a mum having a snowball fight with her children, a man with a horse and cart, the latter being used to carry a large Christmas tree, and four old cars. A garage and cycle shop add to the busy scene, with a signal box and a church in the background. Several people and two dogs add human and pet interest to the picture and a light covering of snow adds that special ingredient to the mix.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

A Ravensberger Pair- Railway Memories.

 Today's post, 13th February 2019, features two Ravensburger puzzles marketed as a pair, in a single box. The title for the pair, is Railway Memories.

The first puzzle (left), is titled Titfield Thunderbolt. In Alan King's painting an idyllic country village is depicted including crowds socialising at a cricket match, with picnics to the fore. Many families and 1950’s cars are included in the composition. A local train is passing close by, headed by a GWR 0-4-2 push and pull tank engine, No.1401, the same one that featured in the film Titfield Thunderbolt in 1953. The train draws attention from many villagers, especially from children. The four cars in Alan’s picture are a Morris Minor 1000 Traveller, a red 4-litre Bentley, a blue 1935 Triumph Vitesse and a Morris Minor Mini.

The second jigsaw (right),is titled Winter Service. Many passengers are pictured leaving a country station on a cold winter day carrying shopping bags and parcels. Two of the cars depicted in the first jigsaw of the duo, Titfield Thunderbolt, are also pictured in the forecourt of the station in Winter Service – the red 4-litre Bentley and the blue 1935 Triumph Vitesse. A GWR pannier tank 0-6-0 locomotive No.5043 is also prominent in the station and a forecourt tea shop adds further interest. Other human interest includes the stationmaster and engine driver having a ‘chinwag’ - Alan King is again, the artist. He included himself in the picture, identified as the young trainspotter in the beige coat and red scarf .

Thursday, 31 January 2019

Ravensburger, USA

Todays post, 31 January 2018,  features a 500-piece jigsaw from Ravensburger that was made for the USA market.

It is quite a unique steam railway puzzle of 'Large Piece Format', measuring 70cm x 50cm when completed. There is a lot of detail in the painting by British artist Michael Herring. Centre stage is a small L.N.E.R. tank engine, heading two small passenger coaches on a single track, rural line. Seven geese have escaped through a gap in the lineside fence, and have wandered on to the track in front of the stationary train. The geese are causing consternation among train crew and fascination among a few, visible passengers leaning from open carriage windows. The fireman and guard are shown walking beside the train towards the geese as the driver looks on from his cab. A man and his dog are approaching the line from a lineside property, presumably to rescue the geese. A shed is open alongside the property to re-house the geese. A covering of snow adds aesthetic appeal to the pictorial composition. The jigsaw is titled Snow Bound but the original artwork on Michael's website is titled Geese on the Line. The jigsaw is not generally available in the UK to the best of my knowledge, although my used USA copy, was purchased from a UK Amazon supplier. As it was first marketed in c2008, used copies may be the only examples currently available. Michael's picture must represent a British Railways' scene (1948-1968), as the logo -  on the class 'J69', 0-6-0 tank engine, No.68579, designed by J. Holden, c1902 - was used post 1956. The locomotive was withdrawn from service in 1960.  

Saturday, 5 January 2019

Two vertical jigsaws from Sovereign Publications

May I take this opportunity to wish all supporters of the blog a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

Today's post, 5th January 2019, features two pics of portrait style jigsaws from Sovereign Publications.

Titled M.R. Compound Class 4, 4-4-0 No.1000, (left), this 600-piece jigsaw from Sovereign Publications shows the preserved compound, Midland Railway (MR) locomotive on the 'Cumbrian Mountain Pullman' 'Special'. No.1000 was the first locomotive designed by Samuel Johnson for the MR. She was built at Derby Works in 1902 as No.2631, but renumbered to No.1000 in 1907. Richard Deeley modified the design in 1914 in which state she remained until 1923, when she became part of the London Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS). Nationalisation in 1948 meant renumbering again as British Railways (BR) No.41000. She was 'pensioned off' from BR in 1951, heading for preservation, and restored in 1959 to virtually 1914 condition and MR red livery, to run main line 'Specials'. She was then stored at the Transport Museum in Clapham. She became a static exhibit at the National Railway Museum in York but is now at the Barrow Hill Engine shed in Derbyshire, on loan. In the jigsaw photograph the locomotive is double-heading with a second engine but there are no details on the box. However, David Rostance' photographs on 'Flickr' show No.1000 double heading with 'Jubilee' class 4-6-0, No.5690 Leander, heading the 'Cumbrian Mountain Pullman' on 5th and 12th February 1983. These photographs in the snow show many similarities to the jigsaw picture. A postcard of the same photograph used for the jigsaw has been on sale on Ebay recently.

The jigsaw (right) is titled B.R. Class 4MT No.80135. The locomotive was built as a large, 2-6-4 tank type by Robert Riddles, of British Railways, in 1956, at Brighton. She was withdrawn from service in 1965 and arrived at Barry Scrapyard a year later. In 1973, the locomotive became the 39th condemned example to be reprieved and rescued from the famous Woodham Bro's scrapyard. She was to be purchased by the North Yorkshire Moors Railway Trust (NYMRT) in 1973, but shortage of cash meant that she was sold to a Dutch businessman, who had her restored between 1977-1980. On his death in 2006, the locomotive was bequeathed to the NYMR where she remains today. She is out of service for repairs at the present time.