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Friday, 29 April 2016

Keighley & Worth Valley Railway.

The 5-miles long K&WVR runs from Keighley to Oxenhope  along the Worth Valley in West Yorkshire. This post, 29th April 2016, comprises two photographs of jigsaw puzzles each featuring a scene from the K&WVR.

Picture one (left) shows a 100 piece puzzle from Hestair's Trains series, titled Keighley & Worth Valley Railway. The locomotive shown on a passenger service is ex LMS Ivatt class '2MT' 2-6-2T, No.41241. The loco is currently being rebuilt in the engine shed.

An ex BR 'Standard' class '4MT' 4-6-0 locomotive, No.75078, is featured in the next picture (right). This locomotive returned to steam in 2015 and is a current operator on the line. The jigsaw is a 64-piece example from Philmar's Steam Trains series,  titled Keighley & Worth Valley Railway. An unidentified saddle tank locomotive is behind No.75078, on the double-headed, passenger service.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Seaside Holidays and Excursions

For those  of us who remember, a day trip to the seaside by steam train was a memorable experience. Travelling by rail to a holiday destination and returning home in similar fashion, was equally inspiring. This post, 13th April 2016, comprises two photographs of jigsaws perfectly depicting this nostalgia.

The first jigsaw shown, aptly titled Seaside Excursion, is a 1000-piece jigsaw from Gibsons Heritage series replicating a Malcolm Root painting of the same name. In the picture an Ivatt, class '2MT' 2-6-0 ('Mogul') locomotive, No.46469, is entering Halstead Station heading carmine and cream passenger coaches. The destination is an Essex coastal resort. A level crossing and signal box add to the railway scene which includes an Eastern National, Bristol K-type bus waiting at the crossing. A blue sky augurs well for the waiting passengers including, in the foreground, two children carrying buckets and spades, an obvious clue as to the purpose of the train journey.

The second picture features a Gibsons 636-piece 'Panoramic' jigsaw titled Seaside Train. In Derek Roberts's artwork an ex Midland Railway / ex LMS 0-6-0 'Jinty' tank locomotive, No.47272, is shown with a short passenger train standing in a small seaside station. The train has arrived through a short tunnel. The station is in very close proximity to the promenade, the weather is glorious and many people, including family groups, are present on the platform. Colourful summer clothes are the order of the day. The bay beyond is also busy with holidaymakers and the overall  atmosphere reflects joy and expectation. The station is not named but is it on the famous south west coast, perhaps?

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Hornby Book of Trains and Jigsaw puzzles.

In today's post, 13th March 2014, I am using two pictures of jigsaw puzzles each with its origin in The Hornby Book of Trains.

The Hornby Book of Trains combined a book on trains with a catalogue, the latter listing prices and models relating to the range of Hornby ‘O’ gauge trains. The first book appeared in 1925 and the last in 1939/40. Triang, Triang-Hornby and Hornby, later, added more advertising literature on model railways. When one considers that artists such as Bryan de Grineau (early) and Terence Cuneo (later) were among the artists used for the covers of such publications, it is no surprise that some of the cover artwork has been used for jigsaw puzzles.

Three Hornby Book of Trains’ titles of 1937-1940  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 artwork in the first example, William Stanier's ‘Princess’ class 4-6-2, No.6201 Princess Elizabeth, has recently been marketed as this 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle by The Works, high street store. The full jigsaw title is LMS Princess Royal Class "Princess Elizabeth". It is sold as one of a pair of puzzles based on front covers of the book. 

The second jigsaw shown,  reproduces the artwork on the cover of the 1927-28 book, but the artist is not known to me. The locomotive is Charles Collett's ‘Castle’ class 4-6-0,  No 4086 Builth Castle; the full jigsaw title is No.4086 Builth Castle.

These publications - part book and part catalogue - comprise other examples that would make excellent jigsaws to complement the two above. The 'HBoT' range is easily accessed on the Internet. 

Sunday, 28 February 2016

A Boxed Pair from Gibsons

Today's post 28th February 2016, comprises two pictures, each showing a jigsaw from the same box under the appropriate title, Working Together. The manufacturer is Gibsons and the artist in both cases, is Barry Freeman.

The first (left) is individually titled Castle Country and comprises 500 pieces. The location is Churston Station on what is now, the preserved Dartmouth Steam Railway. Heading the 'Torbay Express' to Paddington, following a short stop at the station, is ex GWR 'Castle' class 4-6-0 of Charles Collett, No.5011 Tintagel Castle. To the left, ex GWR,'1400' class 0-4-2 tank engine, No.1470, also designed by Collett, is pictured with an auto-coach, ready for branch line duty to Brixham, on the coast. Also in the composition is a roofed footbridge, some human interest and the picturesque Devon countryside.

The second jigsaw in the pairing is another 500-piece example; this one is titled West Somerset Steam. The location is Blue Anchor station and signal box on the now preserved, West Somerset Railway.  An ex Somerset & Dorset Railway class '7F' 2-8-2, No.88, in the famous blue livery, is pictured heading a passenger service to Bishops Lydeard. Waiting in the station loop is a  '4500' class 'Prairie' tank 2-6-2, No.44561, with another passenger service, bound for Minehead. Also in the picture is Blue Anchor Bay with its long sandy beach, a level crossing and a pair of young trainspotters; the signal box also controls the crossing. The designer of the ex GWR small prairie was George Jackson Churchward; the designer of the S&DJR class '7F' (for the Midland Railway, previously) was Henry Fowler.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Two 'Panoramic' Jigsaws from Gibsons.

Today's post, 13th February 2016, comprises two pictures of jigsaws, each made in a 'panoramic' format.

Gibsons are a major player in the steam railway jigsaw market and I have chosen two examples from my collection showing steam trains in totally different locations.

A football match is an interesting and unusual component in the Gibsons’ 636-piece ‘Panoramic’ jigsaw titled Final Whistle. Malcolm Root’s artwork features an early 1950’s railway, sharing the composition with a small football stadium where a match is in progress. In the foreground an 0-6-0 tender locomotive trundles by, heading a short freight train with the driver and fireman, no doubt, watching the game. The engine is an ex LNER ‘J15’ class, No.65465, originally one of J. Holden’s ‘Y14’ class built in 1912, for the GER (Great Eastern Railway). The details of the stadium, fact or fiction, are unknown to me.

The second picture features another puzzle from the same Gibsons' series, titled Sunshine and Steam. The artwork is by Philip Hawkins. An ex GWR 'King' class 4-6-0 No.6023 King Edward II heads the famous 'Cornish Riviera Express' through Dawlish, on the return to Paddington. The location is the promenade with Kennaway Tunnel as the backdrop. Holidaymakers are enjoying the view from several vantage points in the jigsaw picture. The era is British Railways, probably late 1950's. The giant 4-6-0 locomotive is one of three, from an original class of 30, in preservation. Do you remember the huge storm that destroyed a nearby section of line in 2014? 

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

1000-piece Puzzles from Gibsons.

Today's post, 27th January 2016, features pictures of two large puzzles from the extensive, and rapidly increasing portfolio of Gibsons' steam railway jigsaw puzzles.

Up first is a 1000-piece example from the Heritage collection titled Calling at Rushbury. The artist, Don Breckon, unfortunately passed away in 2013 but his legacy of magnificent paintings, books and other commercial outlets such as jigsaw puzzles, lives on.  In Don's painting the Great Western Railway (GWR) '4400' class, 2-6-2 tank engine No.4406, is arriving at Rushbury station with a short, branch line passenger service. The class of 11 locos was built by George Jackson Churchward in 1905, especially for such branch line work. No.4406 was withdrawn from BR Western Region service in 1955.

The second picture showing a 1000-piece Gibsons' puzzle is titled Two Weeks in a Welsh Town and the artwork is by Barry Freeman. A Stanier class 'V' 4-6-0 locomotive, No.45110 in late British Railways guise, is pictured pausing at Deganwy station along the Conway Estuary, with a holiday 'Special'. The locomotive is famous among railway aficionados as one of three members of the class to head the "15 Guinea Special", the last steam-hauled passenger train, on 11th August 1968. The locomotive is one of 842 built between 1934 (LMS) and 1951 (BR) all equally at home on freight or passenger duties. No.45110 is currently on display in The Engine House at Highley, on the Severn Valley railway.

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.