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Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Jigsaws showing GWR Locomotives

In today's post I am using two pics showing Great Western Railway locomotives as depicted on wooden jigsaw puzzles. One locomotive pictured is from the early days of the GWR and the other is preserved in the National Collection.

The broad gauge system of Isambard Kingdom Brunel and the Great Western Railway was unique. Brunel persuaded his GWR board that a wider gauge (7ft 0.25ins) than that currently in use (4ft 8.5ins) on the fledgling railway system, would afford greater flexibility towards the major objectives of speed, efficiency, safety and therefore, profitability. The line was started in 1835 and opened in stages between 1838 and 1841; it was built from both ends, London and Bristol. 

Broad-Gauge 8-Footer GWR 1851-1892 is one of four, plywood jigsaws showing early steam engines from a series made incredibly, for Exide Batteries. The legend along the base of each puzzle reads “one of the series of twelve illustrations drawn for Exide batteries by C. and W. Meadway”. The puzzles are of 190-200 pieces and semi interlocking. The locomotive in the jigsaw picture appears to be an example from the 'Iron Duke' class. Iron Duke was the first member of a class of twenty-nine GWR broad-gauge locomotives, all of 4-2-2 wheel formation, although for a short time from construction in 1846, Iron Duke itself was a 2-2-2 design. Designed by Daniel Gooch this famous class was the epitome of power and speed on the GWR for many years. ‘Iron Dukes’ were famous for their 8ft driving wheels and were introduced in April 1847. In 1848 class member Great Britain reached a speed of around 78mph near Swindon, a new speed record and a phenomenal achievement for the time.

If you know anything about the Exide batteries' puzzles please contact me - my email address is at the top of the blog. I know little about them.

Britain's Mightiest, a 150-piece wooden puzzle from Chad Valley, depicts the icon of the GWR, Charles Collett's 'King' class 4-6-0 No.6000, King George V. The jigsaw picture is reproduced from a c1935 GWR poster by Moy Thomas.The ‘Kings’ were the heaviest (136tons) and most powerful 4-6-0s to operate in Britain and emerged from 1927. The first one, No. 6000, King George V was sent to the Baltimore and Ohio Centenary Railroad Celebrations in 1927 following its inaugural run hauling the ‘Cornish Riviera Express’. In recognition of its achievements the Americans presented a commemorative bell, seen clearly on the front buffer beam in Thomas's picture.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Steam with other forms of Transport

In this post, 31st March 2014, I am using three pictures of jigsaws each featuring a steam train with other forms of transport. The first jigsaw represented is a current issue whilst the others are older.

In this jigsaw puzzle Kevin Walsh's artwork includes a classic red sports car with driver and passenger and a farmer driving a blue tractor attached to a hay-filled cart. London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) ‘A1’ class 4-6-2, No.4472 Flying Scotsman is pictured hauling a long rake of teak coaches somewhere on the East Coast Main Line. The 1000-piece puzzle from Falcon, titled Wartime Summer,  depicts an “oasis” in WWII Britain. However, the summer tranquil scene is interrupted by two Spitfire fighter planes, reminding everyone beneath of the reality. Two boys and three dogs complete the picture and leave little space for other inclusions.

Picture number two shows a small 20-piece wooden puzzle from Tower Press's Little Folk series. The jigsaw is titled The Express Train. Pictured is a huge London Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS) 'Princess Coronation' class 4-6-2, No.46245 City of London hauling a rake of British Railways (BR) carmine and cream passenger coaches beneath a road bridge. On the bridge is a single-decked bus and above that is a helicopter, one of the few jigsaws to depict this type of transport. Three children are included as spectators to add that special human interest to the composition. The artist is not named.

A Falcon 500-piece jigsaw is seen in this picture showing a typical town centre scene (c1950's) dominated by a large bridge. Single and double decked buses, cars and a small blue van are included  in the busy scene with a BR Eastern Region 'B1' class 4-6-0 locomotive passing over the bridge with a passenger service. The early 'cycling' lion' motif on the tender suggests a date between 1948 and 1956 for the subjects in David Wright's artwork. Several people and an iconic red telephone box are included in David's illustrative style. 

Friday, 21 March 2014

Bulleid's 'Pacifics'

This post, 21st March 2014, comprises pictures of two jigsaw puzzles both featuring 4-6-2 locomotives designed by Oliver V. S. Bulleid.  

Oliver Bulleid was the Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Southern Railway (SR) from 1937 until Nationalisation (British Railways) in 1948. He was a visionary in steam  locomotive engineering, incorporating many novel features in his designs. Probably his most famous among the latter were his 'Pacific' (4-6-2) locomotives used to head major Southern Railway and British Railways Southern Region (BRSR) expresses.

In the 1940’s Bullied’s ‘Pacifics’ - ‘Merchant Navy’ (‘MN)’ class (1941) and ‘West Country’ (‘WC’) and ‘Battle of Britain’ (‘BB’) classes (1945-51) - appeared on the SR and later, the BRSR.

The first, ‘MN’ class No.21C1 Channel Packet, left Eastleigh Works in 1941 liveried in her regal SR malachite green, and engulfed in her air-smoothed casing. The ‘Pacifics’ were numbered with a 21C prefix, a continental representation of wheel arrangement - the number of axles on the front bogie was denoted by a '2', followed by a '1' for the number of axles on the rear pony truck, the six driving wheels being represented by the letter 'C'. The final number was that of the locomotive, No.1 in the case of Channel Packet. Another twenty-nine ‘MN’ class members were built, the final one, No. 35030 Elder Dempster Lines, in BR days, 1949 (hence the BR numbering). This class was designed, principally, to operate the heavy expresses to the West and the prestigious Continental Boat Trains. Around ten members of the ‘MN’ class survived the scrap yard whilst another, No.35029 Ellerman Lines, is a sectioned exhibit at the National Railway Museum in York. Because the class was designed to haul the heavy boat trains, at the behest of one of the shipping line owners, they were named after shipping lines.

The ‘West Country’ and ‘Battle of Britain’ classes were scaled down versions of the ‘MN’ class, identical, mechanically, and known as the ‘Light Pacifics’. They were also known, affectionately, as ‘Spam Cans’. The ‘WC’ locomotives were named after cities, towns and tourist spots in south-west England. The ‘BB’ class carried wartime commemorative names of RAF squadrons, predominantly from the Battle of Britain. The first, light ‘Pacific’ No.21C101, Exeter was built in May 1945 with a further one hundred and nine examples following  by 1951.

The first picture shows a 400-piece puzzle from K.G. Games. The jigsaw features a re-built Bulleid ‘Merchant Navy’ class 4-6-2,  No.35030 Elder Dempster Lines, a typical locomotive used to haul the famous Atlantic Coast Express (ACE). This class followed on from 4-6-0 types such as ‘King Arthur’ and ‘Lord Nelson’ class examples. ‘Schools’ class 4-4-0’s were also used occasionally. The motif on the tender is the later BR totem design (from c1956).

Picture number two features another Bulleid 'Pacific' heading the famous 'Golden Arrow' express. The latter ran from London Victoria to Dover and was an all Pullman luxury service originally. The motif on the tender is the early BR 'cycling lion' type (1948-1956). The jigsaw is a 35-piece example, in wood, from Victory.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Six Postcard Size Jigsaws

For this post, 11th March 2014, I am using photographs of six small puzzles from a respected British manufacturer. 

A.V.N. Jones & Co. Ltd., made excellent wooden jigsaw puzzles from their London base in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Among them was a series of ‘six-in-one’ puzzles where six, postcard size jigsaws were marketed in a single box. I have one of this series featuring six steam trains in my collection from illustrations by G. R Micklewright, other series featured wild animals and ships. 

The six jigsaws above from left to right and top to bottom feature locomotives as follows :- LMS 'Royal Scot' class 4-6-0 No 6137 Vesta; LNER 'A1' class 4-6-2 No.2547 Doncaster; SR 'Lord Nelson' class 4-6-0 No.850 Lord Nelson; LNER 'A1' class 4-6-2 No.2580 Shotover; L&MR Rocket; GWR 'King' class 4-6-0 No.6000 King George V. They are a superb set of puzzles each of approximately 30 pieces.

Friday, 7 February 2014

(The) Queen of Scots

Today's post, 7th February 2014, comprises two photographs of jigsaws both featuring the famous and prestigious Pullman Car passenger service, '(The) Queen of Scots'. The service originated in 1928 and ran from London Kings Cross to Glasgow Queen Street, via Leeds and Harrogate, on the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER). A headboard 'Queen of Scots' was added to the front of the locomotive four years later* and the train reduced in size to seven cars. In the early days locomotives were changed at Leeds;  'C1' or 'D11' class 4-4-0 types of Henry Ivatt and John Robinson respectively, were used on the express. 'The Queen of Scots' headboard* (with the definite article) was introduced after the war in 1949. The Pullman service then ran from Kings Cross to Glasgow Queen Street, via Leeds and Edinburgh Waverley hauled by Gresley 'A1', 'A3' and 'A4' class locomotives and later, Peppercorn 'A1' and 'A2' types. The service was terminated in 1964.

A British Railways poster of the 1950's by Reginald Mayes features an 'A4' class 4-6-2 of Nigel Gresley with the headboard 'The Queen of Scots' thundering past a line-side carpet of tartan. An older poster of the 1930's advertises the train with artwork featuring an elegant lady in a red tartan dress waiting to board a Pullman Car. Three attendants are carrying out their duties of service.

*Dave Peel's superb book 'Locomotive Headboards - The Complete Story' is a must for anyone interested in steam railways

Picture one shows a 500-piece puzzle by JR Puzzles titled The Queen of Scots. The locomotive at the head of a rake of Pullman cars is Peppercorn 'A1' class No.60162 Saint Johnstoun. Edgar Hodges illustrative style is perfect for jigsaw manufacture. The inclusion of track workers is typical of Hodges' work.

The second picture shows the same locomotive in charge of the Pullman service as it thunders over a viaduct somewhere on the East Coast Main Line (ECML). The jigsaw is a 200-piece example from Raphael/JR Puzzles. The artwork is by Leslie Carr who produced lots of railway related work in the mid 20th century, including posters.

Friday, 31 January 2014

Three Locomotives - GWR, LMS & LNER

This post, 31st January 2014, comprises three pictures of jigsaw puzzles all from the manufacturer, JR Puzzles. The three are simple record shots of locomotives and are photographic in origin. The JR range of puzzles was made by Handleys Printers of Stockport from the 1970's but have recently been acquired by (James Hamilton) Grovely Puzzles of Salisbury.

Picture one shows a 200-piece puzzle featuring ex Great Western Railway (GWR)) 'Manor' class 4-6-0, No.7812 Erlestoke Manor, from a series of four jigsaws titled Loco's. She is in pristine, preserved condition liveried in the 'Brunswick Green' of British Railways and the GWR. The Erlestoke Manor Fund also own a second example of Charles Collett's 'Manor' class, No.7802 Bradley Manor. They are based at the Severn Valley Railway. Seven others of the class are preserved. The thirty locomotives in the class were built between 1938 and 1950 and worked lines such as the Cambrian, (Shrewsbury - Aberystwyth) where heavier locomotives were barred.

Picture two shows an ex London Midland Scottish Railway (LMS) class 5MT (mixed traffic) locomotive known as a 'Black Five'. 'Black Fives' were also called 'Mickies' in my trainspotting days. William Stanier was the engineer responsible for this huge class of 842  built between 1934 and 1951. Eighteen escaped the cutter's torch. This jigsaw is the second from the 200-piece series Loco's.

A 'B1' class 4-6-0 of Edward Thompson No.61306 Mayflower is featured in picture three liveried in the famous LNER 'Apple Green'. This ex London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) engine was built in 1948 one of a class which eventually totalled 410; the class was begun in 1942 with the final locomotive appearing in 1952. Two B1's are preserved.  The original locomotive named Mayflower, No.61379, was scrapped and the name transferred to 61306. This is the third puzzle from the Loco's series. The fourth puzzle in the series showing ex LMS 'Jubilee' class 4-6-0, No.5690 Leander, was posted on 18th January 2012.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

The LNER and John Austin

Many of John Austin's fantastic paintings have depicted GWR locomotives, particularly 'Kings' battling atrocious weather conditions along England's south west coast. In today's post, 14th  January 2014, I am using two jigsaws featuring LNER locomotives in John's paintings.

The first picture shows the Ravensburger 500-piece jigsaw titled Highland Heroes, which is titled K4s and Ben Nevis in his 1993 original painting. The two Gresley 'K4' class 2-6-2 locomotives, No.3442 The Great Marquess and No.3443 Cameron of Lochiel are shown about to pass at Corpach Station. The picturesque, snow-capped Ben Nevis dominates the backdrop. A superb painting has been transformed into an equally superb jigsaw puzzle.

Both the locomotive and named train, Flying Scotsman, are shown in picture number two, also the title of the 500-piece jigsaw puzzle from Ravensburger. No 4472, (one of several numbers gained in her career)  is perhaps the most famous locomotive in Britain, being the first to officially  achieve 100mph, in November 1934. Equally famously, No.4472 hauled the 'Flying Scotsman' train in 1928 between Edinburgh and Kings Cross, a 392 miles journey, without a stop; this was the longest non-stop run for a scheduled service, at the time. In John's picture the locomotive is shown in close up sporting her apple green LNER livery and the famous headboard. Her 'shed' (Kings Cross) and number (4472) are clearly identified on the buffer beam. A rake of Gresley 'teaks' (coaches) is shown behind the locomotive.

John's book Smoke, Steam and Light is a must for anyone interested in steam railways. Superb paintings, interesting anecdotes and biographical details, interspersed with pencil drawings and sketches make it one of the best of its genre on the market. A fine book from a great artist.

Friday, 13 December 2013

Maunsell's Schools

This post, 13th Dcember 2013, features two  pictures of jigsaws, each showing a Southern Railway 'Schools' class 'V' 4-4-0 locomotive, designed by Richard Maunsell. The 40 locomotives (built 1930-1935) in the class were the most powerful 4-4-0s ever built; all 40 were named after public boarding schools

The picture on the left features the first member of the class, without smoke deflectors, No.900 Eton; the illustrative artwork is not signed. The locomotive is pictured heading a rake of Pullman coaches past a signal box. The immediate response to the painting is that it features a special boat train, although there is no headboard. My copy of the jigsaw was unfortunately purchased without a box, hence the puzzle's origin and title are not known to me. It is of approximately 75 pieces and possibly from the Philmar portfolio of wooden, railway jigsaws.

The second picture shows the Falcon 300-piece puzzle titled Stowe, also the name of the engine in the jigsaw picture. The locomotive portrayed showing her smoke deflectors is the 'Schools' class 'V,' No. 928, and she is being admired by a couple of railwaymen. The coaches in tow are Southern Railway green examples. The artwork was by Rob Johnson, the artist responsible for all four superb jigsaw pictures in the Falcon 300 series, and all covered in this blog.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Two more from Gibsons and Barry Freeman

British jigsaw manufacturer Gibsons have many steam railway titles in their portfolio including the following two, both from artwork by Gibsons' favourite, Barry Freeman. The 500-piece puzzles are pictured in today's post, 26th November 2013. 

The jigsaw in our first picture is titled Living Legend. George Jackson Churchward designed the 'City' class of 4-4-0 locomotives from 1902, specifically for express passenger duties. The most famous of the class, No.3440 City of Truro, known as 'The Grand Old Lady' of the GWR (Great Western Railway), was outshopped in 1903. In the following year she became the first locomotive to, unofficially,  break the 100mph speed barrier. The timing, equivalent to 102.3mph, was carried out by Charles Rous-Martin on the 'Ocean Mails service, working from Plymouth Docks to Bristol, Swindon and Paddington. The record was attained during the Plymouth to Bristol run, on the descent between Whiteball Tunnel and Wellington. Unfortunately, a duplicate recording was required  for authentication but a second timekeeper was not present, therefore, the record could not be ratified. The locomotive is preserved as part of the National Collection and has run on Heritage Railways in the 21st century. The second locomotive in the picture is an 0-6-0 tank locomotive, No.47383, designed by Henry Fowler in 1926 for the London Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS). This locomotive, one of 422 built between 1924 and 1931, is preserved and based at the Severn Valley Railway. The class was known affectionately as 'Jinties' (singular 'Jinty')

The second picture is titled Elegance and Industry. The elegance part of the picture is provided by another locomotive of George Jackson Churchward, this one from his 'Star' class of 4-6-0s. The locomotive is No.4010 Western Star built in 1907and the location is Newton Abbott, a mecca for GWR enthusiasts. The coaches are a mix of pre and post 1928 chocolate and cream examples. The industry part of the picture is in the form of a GWR workhorse, class '5700' 0-6-0 pannier tank No.5760, built by Charles Collett in 1929 from an original Churchward design. Behind the locomotive is a typical GWR siphon van, used for carrying milk.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

A Splash of Colour in a Monochrome Jigsaw

In today's post, 17th November 2013, I am featuring a picture of a current jigsaw made by German manufacturer, Schmidt. The quality is immediately apparent when one holds the pieces, as they are finely cut from very thick card. The printing is better on the box reference however, than on the jigsaw, which is darker.

The Adventures of Molly and Macy are based on the twin daughters of David Ellis of West Yorkshire, England. The girls form the focal point of his monochrome photographs; they are pictured in different scenarios and at various ages between 18 months and six years. David rather cleverly introduces a splash of colour into his black and white images, mostly red. He established a design and advertising agency in 1992 from which his publishing company, Double Trouble, was  founded in 2003. See more of Molly & Macy on the website at

The puzzle in the picture is titled You're Leaving and is of 1000 pieces. The girls are featured at a picturesque railway station possibly on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway or the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, both in Yorkshire (email me if you know). It is reminiscent of a 1950's style scene with the girls pictured fronting a BR tank engine and beside a loaded luggage trolley  The jigsaw is not easy to assemble because of its strictly limited tonal range (except for the red) but leaves you with a great sense of satisfaction when completed. Schmidt make other puzzles from the series of adventures.