If you wish to communicate with me about steam trains, railway art and related jigsaw puzzles, please email David, at :

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. 

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

National Jigsaw Day

I was listening to Radio 2 this morning and it was announced that it was National Jigsaw Day, today, November 3rd 2015. I have not heard about it before but it seems appropriate that I post on this special day.

The picture features a Bits and Pieces, 1000-piece jigsaw titled The Railway Children. The artist is Stuart Booth and another puzzle displaying his artwork, Cornish Riviera Limited,  by Otter House, can be found in the post of 18th July 2013. The reasons I have chosen this puzzle are simple - subject and difficulty. It is not an easy puzzle to assemble due to many similar clumps of shape and colour in the tree areas. The composition, comprising a single track branch line in rural UK, an old locomotive and watching children, is highly pictorial and a proven, successful combination. 

The locomotive, heading some old Southern Railway green coaches is an Adams Radial Tank, a famous design from c1885. On this date the Locomotive Superintendant in charge at the London & South Western Railway was William Adams, and his class '415' of 4-4-2T engines, included No.520 - No.30584 in BR days, as in the jigsaw picture.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Poster Style Puzzles

Posters, during the steam era, were extremely common around railway stations and have become collectors items today. Carefully planned original illustrations were completed with bright, block colours and coupled with legends aimed, unashamedly, at prospective customers. They were full of impact if devoid of small detail. Many such posters were based around famous locomotives or named trains.

Today's post, 20th October 2015, includes three pictures in a block colour style, probably with a digital influence, each featuring a famous London & North Eastern Railway Company (LNER) locomotive. The first two have been used in a previous post but the three together constitute a fine tribute to three historic locomotives and their designer, Sir Nigel Gresley.

All are of 500 pieces and marketed by Demand Media Ltd,. The first features one of Sir Nigel Gresley's 'V2' class 2-6-2 locomotives No.4771 (60800 in British Railways' days) Green Arrow. The locomotive is currently a static exhibit in the National Railway Museum (NRM) in York, awaiting overhaul.

The second picture shows perhaps Sir Nigel Gresley's most famous locomotive, 'A1/A3' class 4-6-2, No.4472 Flying Scotsman (60103 in BR days). This locomotive is based at the NRM in York and is almost ready for trials following a massive overhaul spanning several years. Many events, involving No.60103, are planned for early next year at Shildon (an NRM extension) and York.

The third picture features an engine that vies with Flying Scotsman as Britain's most famous steam locomotive - Sir Nigel Gresley's 'A4' class 4-6-2, No 4468 Mallard. This locomotive broke the world record for a steam locomotive in 1938 - almost 126mph - a record that still stands today. She was numbered 60022 in BR days and now stands, immortalised, at the NRM in York. The locomotive in the jigsaw picture is traversing the famous viaduct at Knaresborough in Yorkshire, heading a passenger train.

I hope you agree that the artwork involved is striking and ideal for jigsaw puzzles.

Friday, 14 August 2015

Two More From KG Games

Two jigsaws from K G Games are featured in today's post, 14th August 2015.

Both jigsaws are from the 400-piece series titled Rail Journey and this first example is titled Pendennis Castle at Chester. The static locomotive is ex GWR 'Castle' class 4-6-0 of Charles Collett, No.4079 Pendennis Castle. The picture shows the locomotive at Chester before heading the Ian Allan 'Birkenhead Flyer' back to Birmingham, in 1967.  

The locomotive is one of the more famous GWR locomotives. In 1925 the GWR loaned her to the rival LNER company where she was compared with the new LNER 'A1' class 4-6-2 locomotives. Trials proved her superiority over her rivals. In 1977 she was sold to an Australian iron ore company but repatriated in 2000. The locomotive is currently under overhaul at Didcot Railway Centre.

Jigsaw picture number two features double heading GWR locomotives on the 'Cambrian Coast Express'. The jigsaw is from the same 400-piece series as above and titled On The Cambrian Coast. The two locomotives are an unidentified 'Manor' class 4-6-0 of Collett and a  'Small Prairie' class 2-6-2 locomotive, No.4555 of George Jackson Churchward. 'The Cambrian Coast Express' began in 1927 and ran from Paddington to Aberystwyth and Pwlheli; it was the Shrewsbury - Aberystwyth - Pwllheli lines that tracked the Cambrian Coast in Wales. The line could not support heavy locomotives and the smaller 'Dukedogs' and, later 'Manors' were ideal for the service. Just looking closely at the picture reminds us of how safety and security have changed on the railways since steam days.

A third jigsaw from the Rail Journey series, Caledonian Railway No.123 at Carstairs, is featured in the post of 30th October 2010.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Bluebell Railway

Today's post, 5th August 2015, features pictures of two jigsaws, each showing an early locomotive of the Bluebell Railway.

A short history.

The Lewes and East Grinstead Railway Company was formed to build a railway in 1877 but a year later the line was acquired by the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway (LB&SCR) and completed in 1882. 

The 18 mile line from Lewes to East Grinstead was closed by British Railways in 1958. The Bluebell Railway Preservation Society was formed a year later and initially leased the Sheffield Park-Horsted Keynes part of the line from BR.

The Society ran its first train on 7th August 1960 - the first preserved, standard gauge steam-operated passenger railway in the world to operate a public service.This first train was headed by locomotive No.55 ‘Stepney’ followed by two coaches and locomotive No.323 ‘Bluebell’ (on the rear). Both of these locomotives are shown below in the jigsaws depicted. At this time a trip on the line was a return trip between Sheffield Park and Bluebell Halt but by the end of October the railway had carried thousands of passengers. The Railway was finally allowed to operate into Horsted Keynes in October 1961 - Kingscote station was re-opened in 1994. 

From 2003 the Railway laid track in the direction of East Grinstead and seven years later a Bluebell platform was opened at East Grinstead station. In March 2013 a steam service ran the 11 miles from Sheffield Park to East Grinstead and all trains now operate this complete journey.

Today the railway is managed and run largely by volunteers. Having preserved a number of steam locomotives even before the cessation of steam service on British mainline railways in 1968, today it has a large fleet (over 30) ranging from small 0-6-0 tanks to large 4-6-2 Bulleid 'Pacifics' 

The first picture (left) features the ex Brighton & South Coast Railway 'A1X' class 0-6-0T tank locomotive, No.55 Stepney. Known as 'Terriers' the locomotives were designed by LB&SCR Locomotive Superintendent, William Stroudley, in 1875. The jigsaw is a 500-piece example from Hestair titled Bluebell Railway Engine. The jigsaw photograph appears to have been taken on an 'Edwardian Day' at Sheffield Park Station, as volunteers are dressed in period costume.

The second picture (right) shows the ex South Eastern & Chatham Railway (SE&CR) 'P' class 0-6-0T tank locomotive, No.323 Bluebell. She was built in 1910, one of eight designed by Locomotive Superintendent, Harry Wainright, as improved 'Terriers'. The jigsaw is a 100-piece example from the Hestair Puzzler 100 series, simply titled Bluebell Railway. The station name is not included in the photograph, but if you know for sure which one of the four it is, (Sheffield Park, Horsted Keynes, Kingscote or East Grinstead), please let me know.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Locomotives at Bressingham

In this post, 31st July 2015, I am describing two jigsaw puzzles, each showing a locomotive on exhibition at Bressingham Steam Museum in Norfolk.

Bressingham hosts a garden centre, commercial nursery, gardens and a steam museum. Housed in the latter are steam locomotives, carriages, steam rollers, traction engines, showman's engines and steam waggons. A standard gauge railway has over ¼ mile of track and offers footplate rides.

The first picture shows a 300-piece puzzle from Hope's Railway Series titled Royal Scot. The Stanier 4-6-0, No.6100, Royal Scot, is pictured at Bressingham Steam Museum. She was built in 1927 for expresses on the London Midland & Scottish Railway and rebuilt by British Railways in 1950. She went on to serve another 12 years on the West Coast Main Line and was retired in 1962. The 'Duchess' was then purchased by Billy Butlin and became a star attraction at Butlins Holiday Camp in Skegness, as a static exhibit.

6100 left the Butlins site for the Bressingham Steam Museum in 1971 and was returned to steam in 1972. In 1978 she became a static exhibit again until 1989 before being sold to Bressingham by Butlins in the same year. She was sold again to the Royal Scot Locomotive and General Trust in 2009, and was moved by road to the Heritage workshops in Crewe. In the same year she caught fire en route to a steam gala at the West Somerset Railway while being transported along the M5 Motorway on a lorry. A fire started on the lorry under the loco's leading wheels leading to a long lay-off and more restoration. Royal Scot is expected to steam again in September, this year.

The same photograph is used in the Hestair 100-piece puzzle (Puzzler 100 series). For more information on the Hestair and locomotive No.6100 go to the post of 1st May 2011.

The second photograph shows a 200-piece jigsaw from Ingham Day from the Byegone Days series titled Duchess of Sutherland Locomotive. Depicted at Bressingham is Stanier 4-6-2 'Princess Coronation' class locomotive, No.6233 Duchess of Sutherland. This giant locomotive was built in 1938 at Crewe Works for the London Midland and Scottish Railway to haul express passenger services between London Euston and Glasgow Central, among others. She was retired by British Railways in 1964 and sold to Butlins Holiday Camp at Ayr. The loco was then transferred to the Steam Museum at Bressingham in 1971 where she was used on the demonstration line for footplate rides for the next three years. Unfortunately, problems occurred in her firebox and she was retired once again.  She remained at Bressingham on static display until 1996 when she was acquired by 'The Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust' for restoration. In 2001, No.6233 was restored to operating condition and since then has been a regular performer on the mainline network, mainly as No.46233. 

Monday, 27 July 2015

Record and Pictorial Jigsaws from Ravensburger

Today's post, 27th July 2015, comprises two jigsaws from German manufacturer, Ravensburger. The puzzles depict two of many different elements of the steam railway jigsaw genre; record and pictorial.

The first picture (left) features the 1000-piece puzzle titled Full Steam Ahead, from original artwork by John Austin. W.H. Smith also marketed this jigsaw but under the title Millers Dale (read on).

John's painting depicts the station and twin viaducts at Millers Dale in Derbyshire. The oldest viaduct was built for the Midland Railway in 1862/3 and the second in 1905. The latter doubled the number of lines to four. In his book Smoke, Steam, and Light John describes his passion for painting bridges and viaducts and I must add that he is expert at it. The line through Millers Dale was closed in 1967 following the recommendations enclosed in the Beeching Report but the older viaduct (left, I think) now forms part of the popular Monsal Trail, used by ramblers, horse riders and cyclists.

The passenger train in the painting appears to be headed by a rebuilt ex LMS  'Royal Scot' class 4-6-0 locomotive in early British Railways' days (the London Midland Scottish Railway - LMS - became part of British Railways in 1948). The second viaduct supports a freight train hauled by a small 0-6-0 tender locomotive. 

The second Ravensburger jigsaw, of 500 pieces and titled The Train Driver - part of the Happy Days at Work series - is shown next. My interpretation of the Trevor Mitchell painting is of a family returning from a short holiday (one case) and taking advantage of a friendly driver. Before leaving the station the father, holding one of his sons, converses with the driver whilst his wife and other children look on and listen intently. Another man and boy are included in the composition. The locomotive in close up is ex GWR King class 4-6-0 No.6005 King George II, and the era is early British Railways (the Great Western Railway - GWR - became part of British Railways in 1948). Another ex GWR passenger train is pictured in the background approaching the station: the family dog, a large water crane and a signal box complete the picturesque station scene. The interpretation is in the eyes of the beholder.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Early 19th Century Locomotives

Today's post, 28th June 2015, comprises two photographs of jigsaw puzzles each featuring a locomotive from the 19th century.

The Brighton Railway 'GLADSTONE' class 1882 is one of four, plywood jigsaws showing early steam engines from a series made 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 artwork was taken from a 1960’s Exide Batteries' calendar illustrated by the husband and wife team. Another in the series, A BROAD- GAUGE 8-FOOTER: G.W.R. 1851-1892, can be seen in the post of 9th April 2014. William Stroudley designed the 0-4-2 'B1' class of express locomotives for the London Brighton and South Coast Railway (LB&SCR) between 1882 and 1891. The class of 36 became known as the 'Gladstones' after the first member of the class. No.176 Pevensey (built 1890 withdrawn 1929) is the locomotive in the picture in the superb LB&SCR livery.

The second photograph shows George and Robert Stephenson's famous Rocket locomotive at the opening ceremony of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in 1830. The 400-piece Regency puzzle is titled The Iron Road; the illustrative style artwork is excellent but the artist is not named. My puzzle is housed in a poorly printed box but the puzzle looks superb.

Saturday, 13 June 2015

A Whitman Set

For this post, 13th May 2015, I have chosen a series of four, excellent 1000-piece Whitman puzzles from my collection. The series is titled The World of Steam.

The first picture shows the jigsaw titled Flying Scotsman. Each jigsaw in the series depicts a famous named train produced from the quality illustrations of artist Edgar Hodges. The fastest steam locomotive in the world, 'A4' class 4-6-2 (Pacific) No.4468 Mallard, designed by the immortal (Sir) Nigel Gresley, is pictured at the head of a rake of Gresley teak coaches. The Kings Cross to Edinburgh express is working hard to exit Edinburgh Waverley Station for the return journey. A few trackside workmen are in attendance, a typical Hodges' addition. The locomotive is in London & North Eastern Railways (LNER) livery; 1923-1948. As the locomotive was built in 1938 the picture era is narrowed to 1938-48.

Picture number two features a giant 'King' class 4-6-0 designed by Charles Collett in early British Railways days (1948-56) as signified by the 'cycling lion' BR logo on the tender. The locomotive is pictured storming out of a station (Paddington?) on its way to Penzance, The locomotive is No.6015 King Richard III (built in 1928). The jigsaw is titled Cornish Riviera.

Also from the same series is a jigsaw titled Golden Arrow. This express boat train from Victoria to Dover was often hauled in Southern Railway days (1923-48) by a 'Lord Nelson' class 4-6-0 locomotive of Richard Maunsell. A large or light 4-6-2 (Pacific) locomotive of Oliver Bulleid hauled the train from 1941 (large)and 1945 (light). The locomotive in the jigsaw picture heading the luxurious Pullman coaches is Southern Railway liveried Bulleid 'West Country' class 'Light Pacific' No.21C139 Boscastle, built in 1946 (picture is therefore dated narrowly, 1946-48); the latter date was the date when the Southern Railway became part of British Railways. The exciting headboard, golden arrows on the sides and British and French flags rising from the buffer beam  contributed to a unique experience for viewers of this superb express boat train.

The fourth picture shows the final jigsaw from the Whitman The World of Steam series titled Royal Scot. The express ran between Euston and Glasgow Central on the West Coast main line in direct competition with the 'Flying Scotsman' express, the East Coast main line equivalent. 'Princess Coronation' class 4-6-2 of (Sir) William Stanier, No.46248 City of Leeds, is pictured in Hodges' artwork at speed probably in the Cumbrian Fells. The livery is that of the London Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) and the illustration is based on the era 1956-68, within the British Railways era. The locomotive entered service in 1946 and was withdrawn in 1964 therefore the picture era is 1956-1964.

Three of these puzzles are on sale currently on ebay - link below


Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Two Preserved Locomotives

In this post of 20th May 2015, two photographs are used of jigsaws depicting preserved steam locomotives. Both 500-piece  jigsaws are from the Trains series of four puzzles made by KG Games of Northampton; the other two were described in the post of 21st September 2014.

In the first (left), a 'Jubilee' class 4-6-0, No.5593 Kolhapur, designed by (Sir) William Stanier is shown in the LMS (London Midland & Scottish Railway) 'Crimson Lake' livery. Stanier was appointed Chief Mechanical Engineer of the LMS in January 1932, and between 1934 and 1936 he designed the 'Jubilee' class of 191 passenger locomotives. The LMS Railway began services in January 1923 and ended them in 1948, the year of Nationalisation and British Railways.The jigsaw is simply titled Kolhapur. Jubilee class members preserved are as follows - 5593 Kolhapur, 5596 Bahamas, 5690 Leander and 5699 Galatea. The original, LMS 4-figure numbers were prefixed with the number (4) after Nationalisation in 1948.

The second picture right, shows another of the KG Games Trains series' puzzles titled Oliver Cromwell. The jigsaw, again of 500 pieces, depicts one of the Britannia class of 4-6-2 locomotives designed in the British Railways Standard era, 1948-1968. The 55 members of the 'Britannia' class hit BR metals (track) between 1951 and 1954, under the supervision of Robert Riddles. The last of the class was retired in 1968. Two are preserved -No.70000 Britannia and No.70013 Oliver Cromwell. The location in the jigsaw photograph is an engine shed, possibly its home shed in BR Days -  Carnforth. The Carnforth shed code, 10A between 1963 and 1968, can be seen clearly on the smoke box door.