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Thursday, 31 August 2023

More of Trevor Mitchell's illustrative artwork

Today's picture, 31st August 2023, shows a 1000-piece puzzle from the Gibsons' company titled Treats at the Station. The artist is Trevor Mitchell and again he has delivered a 'busy' composition. You don't have to search diligently to find 23 figures - adults and children - some in summer attire; a station; a bus (Bedford OB?); a motorcycle rider and sidecar; several goods wagons and a steam locomotive. Among the figures are an ice cream seller who appears to be quite happy as the weather looks ideal for his trade. The backscene includes a village street, a clock tower, market stalls and a small fun-fair.
The locomotive is an ex Furness Railway class 'D5' 0-6-0 tender locomotive, No.12509 (1920), which progressed through to the London Midland and Scottish Railways, then to British Railways, where it was re-numbered, 52509 (post 1948), as in the jigsaw picture. (If anyone knows better, please email me and I will amend the post). Trevor has also added trees, birds in flight, red brick and stone buildings and hoardings advertising holiday destinations. I don't think there is any available space for more 'extras'. Possibly a dog?

Friday, 21 July 2023

Hornby jigsaw puzzles

As some of you may know, Hornby, the model railway company, has recently released jigsaw puzzles related to the model locomotives/trains that they retail - manufactured by Kidicraft. The example I have chosen for today's post - 20th July 2023, is of 1000 pieces and titled Sir William A. Stanier.
The locomotive bearing the name of the great engineer is one of the 'Princess Coronation' class of 4-6-2's, my favourite class of engines.The class was built at Crewe Works between 1937 and 1948 and eventually, following many batches, reached 38. No.46256 was the penultimate locomotive built (1947) and named after the designer, Sir William A Stanier FRS. The artwork for the jigsaw was provided by the brilliant railway artist John Austin, Fellow of the Guild of Railway Artists. For more of John's work look him up on the internet or read his book, 'Smoke, Steam and Light' - you will find the jigsaw picture in the book. The rather handsome, space saving box is also shown below, in Hornby's colours. The Hornby locomotive No.46256 Sir William A Stanier FRS - R3555 - was released in 2017, and John's superb painting appeared on the front cover of the 2017 Hornby catalogue.

Friday, 16 June 2023

The Seagull Express

Todays photograph, 16 June 2023, features a 500-piece jigsaw from Corner Piece (The Works, Stationers) titled The Seagull Express. The locomotive in the picture is ex GWR 2-8-0T No.4277, built in 1920 at Swindon Works.
I'm sure that any viewer can relate to the sunshine radiating from this jigsaw picture as it is similar to that which most of us are experiencing at the present time. Following withdrawal from service in 1964, No.4277 was moved to the famous Woodham Brothers scrapyard in Barry. Twenty-two years later it departed for the Gloucester Warwickshire Railway, the 173rd engine to leave the scrapyard. In 2008, the locomotive moved on again to the Dartmouth Steam Railway, where it was painted in lined GWR Brunswick Green livery and named Hercules. The latter can be seen on nameplates located on the smokebox. 6

Monday, 29 May 2023


Today's post, 29 May 2023, shows a Ravensburger jigsaw of 1000 pieces titled Durham Cathedral. Of course, a steam train is included in the foreground to comply with the blog title, but I can't help but think that the cathedral - such a powerful image in its own right - 'steals the show'. What a pity the weather wasn't better when the original photograph was taken.
I visited this cathedral a few months ago and took several photographs, mainly internal examples; and the weather was superb. It is a magnificent, huge building and I learned that it "has characteristics common to both Romanesque and Gothic architecture". The train, probably a 'Special' excusion of recent times, is headed by one of Sir Nigel Gresley's 'A4' class 'Pacifics' of 4-6-2 wheel configuration, No.60009* Union Of South Africa. What a wonderful location to take a photograph such as this with two focal points. Only six 'A4's remain from an original class of 35 - one in America (60008), another in Canada (60010) and four in the UK (60007, 60009, 60019 and 60022). The last one in this list is the most famous; the world record holder for steam, 60022 Mallard. For more details of the class especially when all six were paraded together in 2013 at the National Railway Museum, York, just Google A4 Class Pacifics. A jigsaw from one of my own photographs of 60019 Bittern can be viewed in a previous post, 9th May 2021. *60009 is owned by Scottish farmer John Cameron who purchased the locomotive in 1966, and recently returned it to Scotland (Fife) for static display at his Farming and Railway Visitor Centre. The latter is to be opened at his Balbuthie Farm this year. It will be displayed with his other locomotive, former LNER 'K4' class 4-6-0, No.61994 The Great Marquess. NOTE The photograph, from North News and Pictures, was taken by Paul Kingston.

Thursday, 11 May 2023

L.M.S. Trio.

Today's jigsaw, 11 May 2023, is titled Hest Bank Whitsun 1961 and features a superb painting by the acknowledged, master railway artist, Philip Hawkins, a Fellow of the Guild of Railway Artists. The two, easily identified locomotives in the picture are, left, a 'Princess Coronation' class 4-6-2 designed by William Stanier and right, a 'Patriot' class 4-6-0 designed by Henry Fowler, both for the London Midland & Scottish Railway (L.M.S.). Of specific note in the painting are the camping coaches to the left of the main station platform; they were in place c1960-1969. No.46254 is heading north through the station with a Birmingham - Glasgow express passenger train. No. 45507 and an unidentified Jubilee class 4-6-0 locomotive are double-heading a Workington - Euston passenger train, about to stop at the station to pick up passengers.
The Stanier locomotive is No.46254 City of Stoke-on-Trent. The class of 38 was built in several batches between 1937 and 1948, with 46254 emerging on LMS rails in 1946. The first ten of the class were streamlined with half of them 'earmarked' for heading the prestigious 'Coronation Scot' train from London Euston to Glasgow Central. The Fowler locomotive No.45507 Royal Tank Corps, was an early member of a class of 52 and emerged on LMS rails in 1930. The class was built between 1930 and 1934 and numbered 5500-5550. Eighteen members of the class were rebuilt between 1946 and 1948 and called 'Rebuilt Patriots'. A new, 'unrebuilt' 'Patriot' class locomotive is being built currently at the Midland Railway - Butterley, West Shed, and named The Unknown Warrior. It will continue the numbering system of the class prior to British Railways days when the number '4' was placed before all locomotive numbers. The new locomotive will carry the number 5551, to continue the class. Both the Stanier and Fowler locomotives were built at Crewe Works. Hest bank is a small village in Lancashire, near Lancaster. If you wish to learn more about the painting and camping coaches, please copy this link into your browser.

Thursday, 6 April 2023

A Malcolm Root 'Special'

A superb painting by Malcolm Root is the subject of todays post, 5 April 2023, duplicated as a 1000-piece jigsaw from Kingfisher Publishing. The painting was completed in 2003 and emerged recently in jigsaw form.
The Oliver Bulleid, designed 'Pacific', No.34072 257 Squadron, was one of the 110, unique 'Light Pacific' Locomotives, known as 'Spam Cans' to enthusiasts; they were split into 'West Country' and 'Battle of Britain' classes. The 'Battle of Britain' class 4-6-2 No.34072 257 Squadron was built at Brighton Works in 1948 and withdrawn from service in 1964. The two classes were notable for their 'air smooth casings' and chain driven valve gear. The locomotive was the 158th example to leave Barry Scrapyard in 1984 purchased by the owners of 'Merchant Navy' class, No.35027 Port Line, and arrived at Swindon, in 1990, for restoration. It was then sent to the Swanage Railway two years later and ran until 2003 when a major overhaul was necessary. The overhaul began in 2013 and the locomotive returned into service in 2018. 34072 remains in active service at the Preserved Railway. In Malcolm's picture the locomotive is shown in its final depot at Eastleigh, with two engine-men in attendence. The painting, reflecting the engine's final operational year, 1964, is included in the book Malcolm Root's Railway Paintings. I you would like this puzzle in your collection just Google Railway Recollections jigsaw puzzles.

Friday, 24 March 2023

Two Current Gibsons' Jigsaws

Today's post, 24 March 2023, depicts and describes two jigsaws from the prolific jigsaw manufacturer, Gibsons. Gibsons is a company that produces steam railway jigsaws at a rate unparalelled by any other manufacturer, for which I am extremely grateful.
The first puzzle, (top) of 500 pieces and titled Off To The Coast, features excellent illustrative artwork by Dominic Davison. A small 0-6-2 tank locomotive, built for the London Brighton and South Coast Railway, at Brighton Works, entered service in 1898. The engine was named 'Birch Grove' after one of the surrounding small towns and villages. Numbered B473 and 2473 in Southern Railway days, the engine became 32471 under British Railways, in 1952. No.32471 was withdrawn from service in 1962 and purchased for preservation, by The Bluebell Railway. However the locomotive is on static display at the present time, in the Steam Works. In the jigsaw picture No.473, with one coach in tow is approaching a platform to pick up 2 adults and 2 children, for a trip along the line. The pet dog sits quietly beside the family. Opposite on the adjacent platform is a man sat on a bench, reading a newspaper; a dog is sat beside him on the platform. The whole scene reflects the Bluebell Railway in modern, Heritage times. The second puzzle is a 1000-piece example titled Express to Blackpool. The artist is Stephen Warnes a member of the Guild of Railway Artists. The engine, approaching platform 5, is London Midland and Scottish Railway, 'Jubilee' class 4-6-0, No. 45706 Express (yes, that was the name of the engine). The engine is liveried in British Railways' green and heads maroon coloured coaches. Stephen's composition includes a signal box, overhead footbridge, station clock and several passengers eagerly waiting to board their train to Blackpool. Two station staff watch on from the opposite platform. To the fore is a young boy complete with bucket and spade, and another with a model yacht. Both of these jigsaws are packed in their boxes, with colour pictures of the jigsaw artwork. The Jubilee class of 191 passenger engines was built at three Locomotive Works between 1934 and 1936 - Crewe, Derby and North British.

Monday, 27 February 2023

Ravensburger and Gibsons Pictorial Jigsaws.

Two jigsaws from prolific manufacturers, Ravensburger and Gibsons, form the basis of todays post, 27 February 2023. Both are highly pictorial but each includes an obligatory steam train. First up is The Steam Mill, a 1000pc jigsaw from Ravensburger; No.3, in the Day in the Country series. The steam train is a passenger service headed by 'Princess' class, 4-6-2 locomotive, No.6201 Princess Elizabeth. The locomotive is liveried in London Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS) red and the carriages in LMS red and cream (known as blood and custard). The train vies with the Steam Mill as the main focal point but other activities are blended into the picturesque location. One attraction is a Gala where steam engines, other than locomotives, congregate for the occasion, which includes an equivalent show for tractors, opposite. A canal and canal boat add more interest and a jay and a bullfinch are perched in hedges to the fore. A camp site and farm are included in the background. The artwork is by Trevor Mitchell.
The second jigsaw is a 1000-piece example from Gibsons, titled Ye Olde Mill Tavern which is situated immediately adjacent to a canal. Many holidaymakers and/or day trippers are socialising in/at the Tavern and three canal boats are also present, beside or nearby. Yellow flag flowers are in bloom on each bank of the canal. On the opposite side of the canal is a railway station and a cafe. A small passenger train is travelling on a single branch line slowly into the station, an ex Great Western Railway (GWR), 0-6-0 pannier tank at the head. The buildings in the backdrop appear to be part of a village with a church as the focal point. Derek Roberts is the artist.

Wednesday, 1 February 2023

No.71000 'Duke of Gloucester'

Today's jigsaw, 1st February 2023, features a unique locomotive, in a class of one - the huge class '8F' 4-6-2 locomotive, No.71000 Duke of Gloucester. Designed for British Railways at Derby Works in 1953, by the Robert Riddles team, the engine was constructed at Crewe Works a year later. Unfortunately, expected results were not achieved and many cabin crews regarded the engine as a failure because of heavy coal consumption and poor steaming.
Other important dates in the 'life' of No.71000, were its withdrawal from active British Railways' service in 1962; its transport to the Woodham Bro's Barry Scrapyard in South Wales in 1967 (this was error prone as it was delivered to the wrong scrapyard initially); and when it was bought for preservation from this Barry yard in 1974, (the 53rd locomotive to leave), complete with a class '9F' tender. However, without vital components such as cylinders that had previously been removed, and losing others when in scrapyard residence, the locomotive was taken to the Great Central Railway (GCR) in the same year. For more information about this magnificent locomotive following the GCR move - many internet sites will provide this - go to to the site of the current custodians, The BR Class 8 Steam Locomotive Trust - www.the "The Duke" is currently under heavy overhaul, nearing completion, at Tysely Locomotive Works but it is hoped to see it steam on a main line later in 2023. The jigsaw of 1000-pieces, is titled The Duke at Carlisle; it is marketed by Map Marketing of Hatherleigh, Devon. I highly recommend this jigsaw (purchased from the site described above) with excellent artwork by Mike Hill. And, of course, your purchase will decrease the financial target required to get this locomotive back onto the main lines. Oh! the box is quite striking too, see below.

Thursday, 12 January 2023

'Full Steam Ahead' for House of Puzzles

Today's post, 12 November 2023, describes a 1000piece jigsaw from House of Puzzles (HoP), based in Invergordon. For regular viewers of the blog you are probably aware of my admiration for the superbly designed jigsaws from this Scottish company.
HoP's huge output of puzzles is split into 40 "collections" and many include a steam train or two. Today's puzzle is titled Full Steam Ahead and the artist Robert Barry has produced a highly colouful, suburban scene with main attractions - three children, a woman, a dog and 'The Flying Scotsman' train, headed by No.4472 Flying Scotsman. A small town and a farm fill the background and a large tree, a small double signal gantry, various wild flowers, several birds and a man on horseback complete a busy composition. 'The Flying Scotsman' train and engine of the same name, have been described in the previous post of 28 June 2011 - look it up in th blog archive above. At present, the HoP 40 'collections' are split into 15 groups of 1000 piece puzzles, 3 groups of 500-piece puzzles, 13 groups of 500-large piece puzzles and 9 groups of 250-large piece puzzles. Examples of "collection" group' titles include Appleton, Castleford and Saltburn in the 1000 piece puzzles; Lynvale and Avon in the 500-pece puzzles; Cranley, Roseisle and Pencraig in the 500-large piece puzzles and Aspen, Laurel and Rowan in the 250-large piece puzzles. For bird lovers, the examples are song thrush, tree sparrow, chaffinch, wood pigeons, pheasants, bullfinches, goldfinch and a small white goose (?). A holly blue (?) butterfly is also included. For information, the jigsaw Full Steam Ahead is part of the Appleton Collection.