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Monday, 12 April 2021

Flying Scotsman

This post, 12 April 2021, describes a vertical format, 400-piece jigsaw from Sovereign Publications, (although labelled as 600 pieces).
The Bill Sharman photograph features the famous Sir Nigel Gresley locomotive, class 'A1' later class 'A3' 4-6-2, No.4472 Flying Scotsman, in LNER, apple green livery. No.4472 is heading a 'Special' - 'The Flying Scotsman'. The picture looks as if it was taken when the engine was heading a 'Heritage Railway Special' or a Main Line 'Special. Go to the post of 28 June 2011 for a description of the two different identities - locomotive and train. The title of the jigsaw is LNER Class 'A3' Flying Scotsman.

Sunday, 28 March 2021


Today's post, 28th March 2021, features another jigsaw from Gibsons promoting the superb artwork of David Noble, one of the Guild of Railway Artists' professionals. This is a brilliant choice by Gibsons for a jigsaw puzzle - serving as a nostalgic glimpse into my youth, and that of many other steam era veterans. An interesting story on the BBC News website of January 2008 describes “The world’s first trainspotter” as probably a 14-year-old boy from County Durham, John Backhouse. John visited the opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1825 and wrote a letter to his sisters in London describing the event. He also included a drawing of the train with his text. The letter with drawing is part of the National Railway Museum collection in York.
Spotters at Doncaster is a 1000-piece jigsaw packaged in a small, “Planet Friendly Box” (Gibsons' description). In BR days, two ex-LNER main line locomotives are depicted at Doncaster Station on a wet day. ‘A4’ class 4-6-2, No.60025 Falcon, taking on water at the head of a rake of crimson passenger coaches, is positioned on a centre track. Immediately to the right, stationary at a platform, is ‘V2’ class 2-6-2, No.60952, at the head of another passenger service. Several trainspotters, mostly young but mixed with one or two older enthusiasts, have underlined the ‘V2’ number and ‘A4’ ‘namer’ (trainspotting slang for a named locomotive), in their 'combined' spotters notebooks. The headboard on the ‘A4’ reads ‘Norseman’; a Kings Cross to Newcastle boat service which began c1931, although the headboard was only introduced around twenty years later. The carriages for Norway were taken by another locomotive (‘A5/2’ until 1938 and ‘V1’ afterwards) from Newcastle, to connect with the Bergen Line sailings at the Tyne Commission Quay. Here passengers were dropped off for the sailing to Norway or picked up, to return to Newcastle. The Quay was closed in 1970. I know that trainspotters were not strictly ‘railway employees’ during the steam era, but they liked to think they were. Travelling hundreds of miles on the country’s railways in pursuit of names, numbers and often, photographs, coupled with eviction from various railway properties and the occasional access to an engine cab, made them believe they were railway 'people'.

Monday, 8 March 2021

A large 1500-piece jigsaw

Today's jigsaw, 8 March 2021, is a 'special' - a 1500-piece wooden example from Amazon is the focus of attention.
A superb wooden jigsaw of 1500 pieces including a large signal gantry, is from MAIYOUWENG (China?), at Amazon Marketplace. It duplicates Malcolm Root’s superb painting of the northbound 'Queen of Scots' featuring A. H. Peppercorn class 'A1', No.60127 Wilson Worsdell, hauling a rake of elegant Pullman Cars. The train, with headboard to the fore, is pictured passing immediately beneath the eight-signal gantry at High Dyke, just north of Stoke tunnel, Lincolnshire. To add to the pictorialism, Malcolm has painted the scene in winter, in early British Railways' days, with the locomotive resplendent in BR express passenger blue livery. The location, on the East Coast Main Line, is smothered in a few inches of snow; three railwaymen observe from trackside. I think it's worth mentioning here, a 1948 eyecatching poster by Reginald Mayes, produced for British Railways' Eastern Region. The poster depicts the 'Queen of Scots' Pullman service from Kings Cross to Glasgow, stopping at Leeds, Harrogate, Darlington, Newcastle and Edinburgh. 'The Queen of Scots' is pictured travelling at speed adjacent to a dominant carpet of tartan, beside the track.The locomotive at the head is an unidentified class 'A4' of Sir Nigel Gresley. Look it up on the Internet.

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

The Quantock Belle

The preserved West Somerset Railway is featured in today's post, 24 February 2021. It is the longest Heritage Railway in England, at just under 23 miles long, with 11 stations en-route from Bishops Lydeard to Minehead. 'The Quantock Belle' is a special dining service operated by the railway, with diners enjoying both the cuisine and scenery, as the train meanders through the Quantock Hills. Originally part of the Great Western Railway (GWR), the line was initially laid to Brunel's superior broad gauge, but changed to the standard gauge, in 1882, ten years before the Government deadline.
The jigsaw above, is a 1000-piece example from Rothbury Publishing, part of a large series of steam train jigsaw paintings by a superb artist - Robin Pinnock. Robin's painting depicts an ex GWR prairie tank 2-6-2T, No.5572, heading 'The Quantock Belle' through some glorious countryside. No.5572 was built at Swindon Works under the direction of Chief Mechanical Engineer, Charles Collett. She was, later, fitted with auto-gear for working push-and-pull passenger trains. In Robin's picture, the locomotive is shown in GWR livery. She was withdrawn from BR service in 1962 and arrived at Barry scrapyard in South Wales, in the same year. She was rescued from the scrapyard in 1971 and re-steamed in 1985, at Didcot Railway Centre. The full title of the jigsaw is The Quantock Belle on the West Somerset Railway.

Thursday, 11 February 2021

Steam by Rail and Road

Today's post, describes a 1000-piece jigsaw from The Works stationers under the increasingly popular, Corner Piece brand.
The jigsaw picture duplicates a Trevor Mitchell painting. Titled Homeward Bound, the jigsaw is of 1000 pieces and features a Gresley 'C9' class 4-4-2 locomotive, No.2171, of the London and North Eastern Railway (ex North Eastern Railway). The locomotive is heading a rake of Gresley teak coaches. On an adjacent road an old Burrell steam traction engine with two farmhands on board and towing two trailers, the first filled with hay, appears to be heading away from a day on the farm. Onlookers include a lady in a bright yellow dress standing by her bicycle, and two men with two boys standing next to her, with a second bicycle. A mobile water bowser at the roadside, a post-box and a flying blackbird add more interest. The glorious weather completes the pictorial scene. The jigsaw is similar to the JR Puzzles 500-piece example detailed in the 11th March 2011 post, but extra details are added for the Corner Piece puzzle. Check out the earlier post, and compare the two Trevor Mitchell pictures.

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Meals on Wheels

House of Puzzles of Invergordon is among my favourite jigsaw companies because of the variety of shapes included in their puzzle pieces. Today's jigsaw, 27th January 2021, is a 500-piece example titled Meals on Wheels.
Meals on Wheels duplicates the artwork of Michael Herring. The puzzle (c2003) depicts a small farm in winter, with the main focus being a bright blue tractor, sporting vivid red wheels and radiator grill, at the head of a stationary hay cart. A farmer stood at the rear of the cart, is distributing hay to several sheep. The hay has been raked off the cart by a youthful farmhand. In the background is the obligatory steam train, a BR tank engine, (‘Jinty’ 0-6-0) pulling a small rake of crimson coaches along an embankment, passing a signal box. The young farmhand watches the train with interest, from his raised position on the cart; a Border Collie is by his side. A carpet of snow adds to the overall aesthetics of Michael’s painting. Parts of the jigsaw are included below to illustrate some of the differently shaped pieces.

Tuesday, 12 January 2021

A Busy Day at Dulverton

Our first post of 2021, 12th January, takes us to Dulverton Station, nearing closure in the time of 'Beeching's Axe'.
The picture features a 1000-piece jigsaw from JHG Jigsaws of Ashmore, Dorset, titled Busy Day at Dulverton. The era associated with Peter Webster's artwork is probably around, or just prior to, the publication of the 1963 Beeching Report titled 'The Reshaping of British Railways'. The latter led to the closure of many unprofitable lines in the UK. Dulverton Station was actually situated 2 miles further south of Dulverton, at Brushford village; it was closed in 1966. In Peter's painting the main locomotive heading a light passenger train is an ex GWR 'Mogul' (2-6-0) type, No.6372, designed by George Jackson Churchwood. She was built in 1921 at Swindon Works and withdrawn in 1963. A year later she was scrapped and in the painting appears to be in a worse-for-wear, unloved condition. The short freight train exiting the station on the left is headed by a pannier tank 0-6-0 locomotive, but no id' is possible. Two station staff are present with a few passengers. In the yard outside are a single decked bus and a car, both of the time period depicted. In typical Webster style, an eyecatching, rural landscape is included as the backdrop.

Monday, 28 December 2020

Flying Scotsman

Todays post (28th December), the final post of 2020, depicts a jigsaw puzzle from Gibsons titled Flying Scotsman.
The jigsaw, of 1000 pieces, is a montage of a central picture of the Flying Scotsman locomotive and train, surrounded by ten pictures of vertical, LNER posters. The four outer posters advertise "golf courses", "restaurant cars", "The Worlds Most Famous Train 1862-1930"; the fourth is titled "Improve Each Shining Hour". Each one of the four posters is split diagonally into two pictures. Captions "Then" (above a picture) and "Now" (below the second picture) in each poster, relate to the improvement between past and present train services. The other six posters completely surround the central picture and advertise departure time from Kings Cross, intermediate stations between London and Edinburgh, the cocktail bar, season tickets, passenger coach comfort, and general information on development of the train. The central picture of the locomotive and train is, i'm sure, by Mike Jefferies. For more information about this special train, go to the post of 28th June, 2011. As 2021 approaches quickly, may I wish all of my viewers/readers of the blog, a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year: and a million thanks for supporting the blog.

Monday, 7 December 2020

Stanier's Finest

Today's post, 7th December 2020, compares two paintings, duplicated as jigsaw puzzles by The Works and Marks and Spencers, respectively. Although not known as mainstream producers or sellers of jigsaws, both companies have come up trumps with the two artists chosen, Malcolm Root and Nicolas Trudgian. In my opinion, even though I was a GWR or BR Western Region (BRW) fanatic as a boy, the 'Princess Coronation' class of 4-6-2 locomotives designed by Sir William Stanier for the LMS, was my favourite class. I travelled to Shewsbury, Wolverhampton Low Level and Birmingham Snow Hill Stations in search of BR Western Region locomotives and visited the sheds of the first two, on a regular basis. But the short trip to Wigan North Western Station was where I grew to love those fast, huge and powerful locomotives known as 'semis' to us spotters, even though a true 'semi' was really a locomotive with a slightly flatter, smokebox top at the front, required to fit the air smoothed casing, previously in place.
The first jigsaw (top) featuring the Malcolm Root painting is a 1000-piece example from The Works, titled Crowning Glory although on the website of the Guild of Railway Artists it is titled Coronation Scot. The huge Stanier 'Semi', 'Coronation' class 4-6-2 No.46220, is heading the down 'Royal Scot' express in BR days, c1950, through a picturesque location somewhere on the northern, West Coast Main Line. The locomotive named Coronation looks superb in BR express passenger blue livery as she storms along with a long rake of BR carmine and cream coaches behind. The glorious weather adds extra impact to the painting which radiates the power and majesty associated with the locomotive class. No.6220 was the first of the class to be fitted with streamlined casing in blue and white. Below is an equally superb painting by Nicolas Trudgian, marketed by Marks and Spencer in the form of a 1000-piece jigsaw. The puzzle was sold with a CD titled The Glory Days of British Steam. The title of Nicolas's painting is Crimson Evening and featured is the Stanier 4-6-2 locomotive No.6233, Duchess of Sutherland. The train is pictured rounding the curve at Greenholme, on the steep gradient leading up to Shap summit, on the West Coast Main Line. The train is on its way to Glasgow from London Euston. The snow covered Pennines, near Tebay, provide a grand setting for the train - the LMS red liveried engine is matched with a long rake of LMS liveried coaches for a perfectly balanced picture. The sun, 'glinting' from the side of the train, adds more pictorial excellence.

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

A puzzle from New Zealand

Todays puzzle, 24 November 2020, is an example from New Zealand jigsaw company, Holdson. It is part of a four part series titled Age of Steam II. The series duplicates the artwork of four artists and three, with their puzzles, have already been described in previous posts on the blog. The three are British artists. The fourth is Cliff Norton - if anyone has any biographical details about this artist please let me know and I will include them in this post, retrospectively. Age of Steam I also comprised four jigsaws and all were by UK artists who have featured on the blog.
In Norton’s excellent artwork, a ‘6800’ class 4-6-0 locomotive of British Railways Western Region, is hauling chocolate and cream carriages through a small, unidentified station. Six people and a policeman stand on the main platform. An ornate footbridge, a water crane, an empty porter’s trolley and a small signal box are included in the composition. The jigsaw is one of a small number that show this class of locomotive, previously designed by Charles Collett for the GWR, between 1936 and 1939. There were eighty in the class of mixed traffic (MT) locomotives. The locomotive in the picture is No.6826, Nannerth Grange. The jigsaw is made in New Zealand by Thos' Holdsworth & Sons.