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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Two 'Britannia' Class Locomotives

For today's post, 17th December 2014, I have chosen two jigsaws from my collection (500+), both depicted in the photographs beneath and featuring British Railways' (BR), 'Standard', express passenger locomotives.

The first picture shows a W. H. Smith’s 500-piece puzzle titled Outfoxed, replicating a painting by Anthony Cowland. In Anthony's artwork, hunted foxes are hidden from the riders and hounds by a passing express train; the latter is hauled by a ‘Britannia’ class '7P' 4-6-2 locomotive, No.70038 Robin Hood. Anthony is well known for his aviation paintings but he is obviously a fine artist in general. The class of 55 locomotives, designed by BR's Robert Riddles, was built between 1951 and 1954, the prototype being No.70000 Britannia.

The next picture features a 400-piece jigsaw from the Tower Press company under the 'Mercury' brand and titled Continental Express. The express is the prestigious 'Golden Arrow' boat train, which ran from London Victoria to Dover; the express is described in detail in the previous post.  Two of the 'Britannia' class locomotives were allocated to the Southern Region of British Railways from 1951 - No.70004 William Shakespeare and No.70014 Iron Duke - to haul the Pullman boat trains. Also, for a few months in 1951, No.70009 Alfred the Great was allocated to the same boat trains. The locomotive in the picture cannot be identified and the artist's name is also missing. However, the cycling lion motif on the tender dates the picture context to 1948-1956 and the short nameplate implies Iron Duke, possibly. To the right of the picture is a 4-6-2 locomotive of Oliver Bulleid.

Many, many thanks to all the supporters of the blog and may I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Kolorbax Wooden Jigsaw

In today's post, 4th December 2014, I am describing a wooden equivalent of a cardboard jigsaw that I previously reviewed in the post of 30th July 2010.

The first photograph depicts a wooden 150-piece puzzle by Kolorbax from the original artwork by B. A Osborne. A 'Merchant Navy' class 'Pacific' No.21C1 Channel Packet is shown heading the prestigious Southern Railway's  'Golden Arrow' express of Pullman coaches. Osborne has included an aeroplane in his painting and line-side engineers add human interest.

This next paragraph is copied from my post of 25th July 2011.

The 'Golden Arrow' luxury service, from Victoria to Dover, began operating c1929 starting as an all-Pullman train hauled by a 4-6-0 'Lord Nelson' class locomotive or, occasionally, by a 'King Arthur' class 4-6-0. On arrival at Dover passengers were treated to a first class English Channel crossing to Calais on a specially built ferry, Canterbury, owned by the Southern Railway (SR). At Calais passengers boarded an equally prestigious French train, the 'Fleche d'Or', for the journey to Paris. By the late 1930's, however, the 'Golden Arrow' service included ordinary first and second class carriages in its formation as the interest in luxury, all Pullman travel declined. The service was terminated at the outbreak of war in 1939, but was re-introduced in 1946 when a special headboard (until 1961) was added to the front of the locomotive. This headboard was truly inspirational with a large golden arrow piercing a green circle, the latter embracing the famous words, also in gold. British and French flags, fixed to the front of the locomotive, and a horizontal Golden Arrow fixed to each side of the locomotive, added even more flair.

A second, equally interesting photograph of the box and lid is shown with the replica, reference picture dissected and pasted on to the lid (left) and box base (right). The third picture shows the puzzle description, adhered as a label to the box end, in the style of other wooden jigsaw makers.

According to his excellent book British Jigsaw Puzzles of the Twentieth Century, author Tom Tyler describes Kolorbax as a 1940's producer of jigsaw puzzles. Can anyone help me with my research into this company which so far has yielded very little? (email address at the top of the blog page.) 

Monday, 24 November 2014

Two of Gresley's Finest

The two photographs in today's post, 24th November 2014, feature jigsaws showing two of Sir Nigel Gresley's famous locomotives, a 'V2' and an 'A1' (later 'A3').

The first picture shows a 'V2' class 2-6-2 No. 60800 Green Arrow as depicted in a Demand Media Ltd., 500-piece jigsaw puzzle. The artwork is not known to me but is of a poster style and very effective. The locomotive is shown in British Railways days post 1956.  One hundred and eighty four locomotives were built beginning in 1936 and the class took eight years to complete. 'V2s' were known as mixed traffic locomotives being equally at home on passenger or freight duties. My wife and I had the pleasure of boarding 'The Scarborough Flyer' at York  several years ago when Green Arrow was at the head.

The second picture needs little introduction.  Displaying her 'Apple Green' London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) livery, is the famous 'A1' class 4-6-2 locomotive, (later rebuilt as an 'A3')  No.4472 Flying Scotsman. She was the first locomotive to officially break the 100mph speed barrier which she accomplished in 1934, eleven years after she was built at Doncaster Works. She was rebuilt as an 'A3' class locomotive in 1947. The locomotive has had a few private owners in preservation and ran on the main line for several years. She was purchased for the Nation in 2004 by the National Railway Museum at York. However, after many problems, she is now being restored to main line condition at a workshop in Bury, in preparation for a return in 2015.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014


Two montage style jigsaw puzzles, each comprising many images blended into a single jigsaw, make up today's post, 12th November 2014.

The first picture features a 1000-piece jigsaw from Gibsons titled Back to the Future. Four of the steam locomotive images represent  major regions of British Railways, taking us back to that nostalgic steam era. A central, overlaid fifth image shows the new-build locomotive of 2008, Tornado, showing steam of the future. They are all the work of top railway artist Barry Freeman. 

The second jigsaw picture shows a Falcon 1000-piece montage titled Travel by Rail. The nine paintings depicted in a pinboard style are all by Mike Jefferies, another top railway artist.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Two 'Western' Expresses

Two British Railways Western Region expresses are featured in jigsaw puzzle photographs posted today, 29th October 2014.

The Paddington to Aberystwyth ‘Cambrian Coast Express’ was introduced onto the Great Western Railway (GWR) in 1927, although its origin dates from a 1921 service. The train was normally hauled by a ‘King’ or ‘Castle’ class 4-6-0 as far as Wolverhampton or Shrewsbury respectively, where the locomotive was changed. The lines west of Shrewsbury could not support heavy locomotives and ‘Dukedog’ 4-4-0s were used initially, often double-headed, followed later by ‘Manor’ class 4-6-0s. 

The first picture shows the famous GWR express at Leamington Spa headed by 'Castle' class 4-6-0, No.7027 Thornbury Castle. Barry Freeman's artwork features the train speeding through Leamington on a day when the sun is shining within a period of wet weather; hence the jigsaw title, Bright Intervals. The jigsaw is a 500-piece example from Gibsons. Barry's picture was a commision and is set in the mid 1950's. Also included is an ex London & North Western Railway (L&NWR) 'Super D' 0-8-0 tender locomotive No.49395, specially introduced for his client. 

The Paddington - Kingswear 'Torbay Express' was introduced in 1923 and was normally headed by Collett's 'Castle' or 'King' class 4-6-0 locomotives until the introduction of BR 'Britannia' class 4-6-2 locomotives. The latter also headed this and other BR Western Region expresses until the end of steam (1965 on the BRWR). 

The second jigsaw pictured is the Good Companion 400-piece example titled Torbay Express. There is no visible signature to the artwork but it may be part of a T. E. North painting, as North illustrated many others in the Good Companion series. The locomotive illustrated is 'Britannia' class leader, No.70000 Britannia, passing through a station and past a signal box. This picture is dated 1948-1956 because of the BR 'cycling lion' motif on the tender.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Two Gibsons' Panoramic Jigsaws

The two examples of jigsaws pictured in today's post, 21st October 2014, are from the Gibsons' Panorama series of 'letterbox' style puzzles.

The first picture (left) features a 636-piece jigsaw titled Arrival at Temple Meads. In the picture, a now preserved 'King' class 4-6-0 No, 6023 King Edward II designed by Charles Collett, is arriving at Bristol Temple Meads Station with a passenger service from Paddington. the artwork is by Barry Freeman. A previous post was dedicated to this locomotive  - go to the post of 12th August 2011.

The terminus at Bristol Temple Meads was opened on August 31st 1840. Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, engineer to the GWR, the oldest railway terminus in the world was built on two levels with booking offices and waiting rooms at ground level. Platforms carried on arches were reached by a set of stairs. The first broad gauge trains ran to Bath in the opening year but by 1841 trains were accessing Paddington. By 1844 the broad gauge trains of the Bristol & Gloucester Railway were using the station. In 1845 the Bristol & Exeter Railway built a station next to the GWR station but compared to Brunel’s station, this was a mere wooden shed. The B&GR was taken over by the Midland Railway in 1846 and was converted to standard gauge. This led to mixed gauge track on the approaches to Temple Meads. A new station, replacing the 1840 terminus, was built between 1865 and 1878 by Sir Matthew Digby-Wyatt.

The right-hand picture shows the 636-piece puzzle titled New Forest Junction, again featuring the artwork of Barry Freeman. The latter to the best of my knowledge has provided artwork for at least 27 Gibsons' jigsaws, although a few are repeated in different sizes.  A busy Brockenhurst Station is depicted including three different outbound trains; the station provides easy access to the New Forest. To the fore heading the 'Bournemouth Belle' Pullman service is the re-built 'Merchant' Navy class 4-6-2 locomotive, No.35012 United States Lines, designed by Oliver Bulleid. The locomotive was built in 1945 for the Southern Railway and re-built twelve years later for British Railways (BR). To the left is a small 0-4-4 tank locomotive originally of the London & South Western Railway (L&SWR). The class was designed by Dugald Drummond and built between 1897 and 1911. To the right is a 'H15' class 4-6-0 locomotive No.30476. The engine was built in 1924 designed by Robert Urie. The class building began in 1913 for th L&SWR but 34076 was built in 1924 in SR days. The L&SWR was one of the railways amalgamated into the Southern Railway in 1922.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Main Line Locomotives

Two locomotives, one each from the West and East Coast Main Lines, are featured in today's post, 10th October 2014.

From the West Coast, (LMS) Stanier 'Princess Coronation' class 'Pacific', No.46254 City of Stoke-on-Trent is pictured in this 500-piece jigsaw from Rembrandt. Anglo - Scottish expresses such as the 'Royal Scot' and 'The Caledonian' raced along the West Coast Main Line between Euston and Glasgow. The jigsaw is titled City of Stoke on Trent; the train is pictured attacking Beattock Bank (the highest incline on the WCML) with a 1963 express. The photograph used by Rembrandt was by permission of Colour Rail.

From the East Coast, (LNER) Gresley 'A1/A3' class 'Pacific' No.60107 Royal Lancer is pictured in a second 500-piece jigsaw from Rembrandt. Anglo-Scottish expresses such as the 'Flying Scotsman' and 'Queen of Scots' matched the West Coast equivalents, thundering up and down the East Coast Main Line between Kings Cross and Edinburgh/Aberdeen, and Glasgow, respectively. The jigsaw is titled Royal Lancer; the train is pictured exiting the tunnel at Markham in 1962. The photograph used by Rembrandt was by permission of Colour Rail.

Two other jigsaws from this Rembrandt series were described in the post of 10th September 2014. 

Monday, 29 September 2014

Museum Locomotives

Today's post, 29th September 2014, comprises two pictures of jigsaw puzzles each featuring a locomotive preserved and on show in a museum.

The first underground railway in the world opened on 10th January 1863 between Bishops Road, Paddington and Farringdon – The Metropolitan Railway (MetR). Following collaborations with the Great Western and Great Northern Railways, the MetR had an adequate number of its own locomotives and coaches to operate the service, without assistance, by July 1864. 

Specially designed steam locomotives built by Beyer Peacock in Manchester were purchased by the MetR for working in tunnels. The engines were fitted with specially designed apparatus to condense exhaust steam and reduce the smoke released in the tunnels. Between 1864 and 1885 the ‘A’ class (44 built) and later ‘B’ class (22 built) locomotives were of the 4-4-0 tank engine type and they became the standard for both the Metropolitan and District Railways (1871). Note: these class numbers fluctuate a little according to which Internet source you access. The locomotives were originally painted olive green but this changed in 1885 to the familiar dark red or 'Midcared'. The locomotives continued as the standard type for surface and underground lines until electrification in 1905. 

A small puzzle in my collection is the COMPANION puzzle, a Vintage series example of 260 pieces, titled Class A 4-4-0 1903. The jigsaw picture is a photograph of the preserved MetR ‘A’ class locomotive No.23. The photograph was taken in the London Transport Museum, Clapham, where it is on display.

Photograph number two shows the ABYDOS 145-piece jigsaw titled Charles : The Steam Locomotive. The original, narrow gauge Penrhyn Railway of 1798  was constructed to transport slate from the Bethesda slate quarries to Port Penrhyn at Bangor, North Wales. The 0-4-0 saddle tank locomotive, Charles, was one of three locomotives purchased from the Hunslet Engine Company of Leeds in 1882, quickly followed by Blanche and Linda a year later. They replaced three, unique locomotives built in 1876 by the DeWinton Company of Caernarvon. Charles worked until the 1950's and was restored later. The engine, with others, is preserved and on show in the Penrhyn Castle Railway Museum.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Two from KG Games

This post, 21st september 2014, comprises two pictures of jigsaw puzzles made by KG Games of Northampton.

The first picture features the legendary 'A1' later 'A3' class locomotive No.4472 Flying Scotsman. For information about this locomotive go to the post of 28th June 2011 where both the locomotive and train of the same name are described in detail. In the 500-piece jigsaw titled The Norfolkman, the headboard displayed on the smokebox door signifies a service that ran between London Liverpool Street and Norwich from 1948 until 1962. The photograph shows the locomotive in original London & North Eastern Railway (LNER), 'apple green' livery carrying a later BR style headboard.

The second picture features another 500-piece puzzle from the same Trains series titled Sir Nigel Gresley. In the photograph the locomotive is shown in LNER 'garter blue' livery carrying the LNER number 4498. It was the 100th 'Pacific' (4-6-2 wheel configuration) built by the LNER and was one of 35, 'A4' class locomotives. It was named after the designer and Chief Mechanical Engineer. Withdrawn from service in 1966 it was purchased by the 'A4 Locomotive Society' but is now owned by the 'Sir Nigel Gresley Locomotive Preservation Trust' and runs on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Research your Jigsaw Subject

This post, 10th September 2014, focuses on locomotives of the GWR and BR Western Region featured in two jigsaws made by Rembrandt Games of Watford. The benefits of researching the main jigsaw subject is also highlighted.

Top left is a picture of a jigsaw titled Great Western featuring artwork by Michael Jeffries. It is part of The Past Times Collection of 500-piece puzzles. The locomotive in the picture is a very good example where subject research adds to the jigsaw experience. No.4037 began life as a 4-4-2 locomotive of G. J. Churchward, built in 1906. In 1910 it was re-built as a 'Star' class 4-6-0 locomotive No.4037 and named Queen Phillipa. In 1926, under Charles Collett, it was re-built as a 4-6-0 'Castle' class locomotive and re-named The South Wales Borderers in 1937. As a 'Castle' she remained in service until 1962, when she was scrapped. In Jeffries' artwork the 'Star' is heading a rake of superb chocolate and cream clerestory coaches and 'gangers' are working on the adjacent line.

The second picture shows a 500-piece jigsaw from Rembrandt's The Age of Steam Collection. The 'Castle' class 4-6-0 locomotive in the photograph is No.5025 Chirk Castle, built in 1934 under Collett. The train is pictured passing a TPO (Travelling Post Office) pick up point near Chippenham in 1953. Once again researching the subject makes assembling the jigsaw more interesting. In August 1838 an Act of Parliament for the ‘Conveyance of Mails by Railways’ led to the creation of the official Railway Post Office (RPO), and specially designed mail coaches. The mail was exchanged manually until an apparatus to drop off and pick up mail automatically (net and gibbet) was perfected. This became operational in 1839. By 1841 the Railway Post Office employed guards on at least twenty-five mail routes in England and Scotland. In 1885 trains for the exclusive use of the Post Office were introduced and the same year also witnessed the sorting of parcels. The Post Office renamed the RPO’s, Travelling Post Offices (TPO’s) in 1928. The jigsaw title is Chirk Castle; the photograph was used by Rembrandt, courtesy of Colour Rail. For more information on the Travelling Post Office visit the website of The British Postal Museum & Archive at