Blogmaster

If you wish to communicate with me about steam trains, railway art and related jigsaw puzzles, please email David, at : david.precology@virginmedia.com

Friday, 3 April 2015

Steam Trains and Holidays



The combination of steam trains, day excursions and holidays by the sea was popular with artists throughout the steam age and jigsaw manufacturers have not been slow to tap into the same subject pairing. Today's post comprises two photographs of jigsaw puzzles featuring the holiday season in the steam era.


Holiday Express is the appropriate title of a 245-piece jigsaw from Philmar. A Peppercorn ‘A1’ class 4-6-2 locomotive, No.60158 Aberdonian is pictured heading a holiday excursion on the London & North Eastern Railway (LNER), past a signal box, with part of the train positioned beneath a huge signal gantry. Several ‘gangers' are working on the adjacent line. The only logical reference to the post heading however, is the jigsaw title; there are no clues as to the location or destination. According the the early British Railways motif on the tender the locomotive is operating in early British Railways’ days (1948-56).



Journey by the Sea is a 1000-piece jigsaw made by Falcon Jumbo from artwork by Robin Pinnock. The original 1999 painting was titled From City to Sea and was produced for a Millennium Calendar commissioned by a Leigh-on-Sea art gallery. Two ex LMS tank locomotives heading passenger ‘Specials’ are shown about to cross on a sea front in glorious weather. Several people are pictured on a beach path admiring the sea view and the trains. A particular pairing show a young couple dressed in early 1950’s clothing including ‘teddy boy’ attire for the male. One locomotive identified is a Stanier 2-6-4T locomotive, No.42524, but the nearer locomotive although similar, cannot be clearly identified from the rear view. The motifs on the tenders indicate early and later BR eras (1948-1956, above and post 1956, below).

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Two of Stanier's Finest

Today's post, 22nd March 2015, comprises two pictures of jigsaw puzzles featuring the locomotive designs of William Stanier (later "Sir"). 

William Stanier was the Works Manager of Swindon Works of the Great Western Railway (GWR) when he resigned to take up the position of Chief Mechanical Engineer of the London Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) from January 1932. Between 1934 and 1936 he designed the 'Jubilee' 4-6-0 passenger locomotives and from 1934 also, the highly successful 'Black Five' class 4-6-0, mixed traffic locomotives, which eventually numbered 842. From 1937 he designed the huge 'Princess Coronation' class 4-6-2 express passenger locomotives, some of which were streamlined. Thirty eight were built.













Picture one (left) shows the Hope, 500-piece puzzle from the Railway series, titled Bahamas. No. 5598 was one of the' Jubilee' class of 191 locomotives and is shown in the LMS livery of 'crimson lake'. The locomotive is preserved, one of four 'Jubs' to escape the cutter's torch.

The second picture is part of the Steamtrains series of 500-piece puzzles from Falcon. Titled Coronation Scot LMS the 'Princess Coronation' class locomotive is depicted in special 'crimson lake' livery with gilt lining, and is shown hauling matching coaches. The class was often referred to as the 'Duchesses' and three are preserved.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Two from W.H.Smith

Two pictures of jigsaws marketed by W.H.Smith comprise today's post, 4th March 2015. The artwork in both cases, reflects the Great Western Railway (GWR).  


Picture one shows the 500-piece jigsaw titled At The Station, duplicating the artwork of Gordon Lees. Gordon's painting is impressionist in style with a locomotive that cannot be identified heading chocolate and cream GWR coaches. The station, of four platforms, hosts several passengers seated and standing, a small signal box and a signal gantry. A footbridge joins the two main platforms and a set of GWR carriages are standing at a third platform. The station comprises brick buildings on platforms one and four and is set in a rural location on a sunny day.




The second picture features The Mail Train, the title of a 350-piece example. Rob Johnson’s painting shows a short GWR train in a picturesque branch line station, collecting and/or delivering mail. A red Royal Mail van is prominent in the picture. The locomotive is a 0-4-2 tank type, No 1419. The class was used regularly on GWR branch line trains for push and pull auto trains.


Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Don Breckon and the GWR

Don Breckon (1935-2013) has had four books published featuring his paintings, a well-worn path for top railway artists – The Railway Paintings of Don Breckon (1982), Country Connections (1986), Don Breckon’s Country Railway Paintings (2003) and Don Breckon’s Great Western Railway (2003). Throughout the books, Don’s passion for the Great Western Railway (GWR) is clearly expressed, although other railways are also represented. Waddingtons issued a series of four, 500-piece jigsaws c1989 titled The Great Western Railway. I have used two of them in previous posts and the remaining two are described below in today's post, 17th February 2015.












On the left is Waiting at Dymock. A GWR pannier tank 0-6-0 locomotive waits at Dymock station, located on the Gloucester - Ledbury branch line, with two chocolate and cream suburban coaches in tow. This picture perfectly shows Don's appreciation of the picturesque, suburban lines which proliferated throughout the West Country.

The second jigsaw is simply titled Picnic. In this picture Don shows us another branch line favourite - the auto train. A diminutive GWR 0-4-2 tank locomotive is pictured heading two auto coaches temporarily interrupting a family picnic. One of two children, a boy, is waving to the passing train and the family car, a beautiful Austin 7, shares the picture space. The community is a subject well represented in many of Don's canvasses; my instinct tells me that Don invites you to join in the painting process and become part of his composition. 

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Two from Waddingtons

One of the most famous British manufacturers of jigsaw puzzles in any collection, is Waddingtons. This post, 25th January 2015, comprises two pictures of steam railway jigsaws puzzles from this iconic manufacturer.

The original company was founded in the 19th century by John Waddington and Wilson Barratt and re-named John Waddington Ltd in 1905. The initial printing business was successfully supplemented from 1922 with the introduction of playing cards. Jigsaw puzzles, using American cutting technology, were added to the company’s expanding portfolio in the early 1930’s. From company HQ in Leeds, Waddingtons produced circular puzzles from the 1930’s, and jigsaw books in the 1940’s. Cardboard puzzles of 1,000 pieces were produced in the mid 1950’s, possibly a world first. The Limited edition Christmas jigsaw puzzles range, revered by collectors, began in 1994. Steam railway puzzles featured regularly in the Waddingtons’ portfolio. In 1994 the rights to Waddington’s games etc., were purchased by American company Hasbro Inc. The original name lived on, however, with Woolworths as a major supplier of 500-piece and 1000-piece jigsaws packaged in the later, bright red boxes. Woolworths also continued the Chad Valley name in games and jigsaw puzzles. Sadly, Woolworths went into administration in December 2008 leaving the future of Waddingtons’ puzzles in the UK, in doubt. The Chad Valley name still survives, however.


The first picture features the 1000-piece jigsaw titled Snow Hill Station copied from the artwork of the maestro himself, Terence Cuneo. The puzzle depicts a ‘Hall’ class 4-6-0 locomotive No.4983 Albert Hall hauling a passenger train into the station. An 0-6-0  pannier tank locomotive is positioned on an adjacent line and the rear end of a guards van can just be seen on the right hand side of the picture. Passengers mingle on the platform beyond the advancing Albert Hall



The second picture features the famous Flying Scotsman locomotive No.4472 in London & North Eastern Railway (LNER) livery. The jigsaw is titled, simply, Flying Scotsman. I am sure that the picture (photograph) shows the locomotive in preservation days as (1) the coaches post date the LNER and (2) a number of enthusiast's heads are clearly visible protruding from coach windows. The vertical format puzzle comprises 350 pieces. 





These puzzles are packaged in more traditional Waddingtons' boxes that pre date the later  red examples.

For more information about No.4472 Flying Scotsman (locomotive) and the 'Flying Scotsman' (express train) go to the post of 28th June 2011.

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Artist Terence Cuneo

Today's post, 13th January 2015, comprises four photographs of jigsaw puzzles, each depicting one of a set of Royal Mail postage stamps based on paintings by Terence Cuneo.

Terence Tenison Cuneo illustrated or painted many subjects but had a deep-seated affinity for steam locomotives. He was born in London in 1907 and both his parents, Cyrus and Nell, were artists. I could easily write many posts about this man - not just the best British railway artist of the 20th century  but one of the best known artists. His paintings are sought after world-wide and make premium sums at auction. He attended Chelsea and Slade Schools of Art but left in 1927 to follow in his father’s footsteps by working as an illustrator for magazines, books and periodicals. His canvas subjects included Royalty (for example, the Queen's Coronation); portraits; military scenes; railways; posters; motor-sport; industry; landscapes; wildlife and cartoons : in fact, he produced so many paintings that no one quite knows how many. 























The special postage stamp commission above was from the Royal Mail who wanted to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Great Western Railway. The commission was for famous UK express trains and Cuneo produced five paintings. He was a little worried about his large canvasses being reproduced effectively as tiny images but his concern subsequently proved to be unfounded. The Post Office, philatelists and steam railway enthusiasts alike praised them unreservedly. The 500-piece Waddingtons’ jigsaw puzzles reproduced four of the stamps, making a handsome and popular set. The set comprised the Flying Scotsman (17p stamp), the Golden Arrow (22p), the Cheltenham Flyer (29p) and the Royal Scot (31p). But why was there no fifth puzzle replicating the Cornish Riviera Express on the 43p stamp? The four puzzles are shown in the above photographs.

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. Interestingly, artists were sometimes criticised for inverting the flags on the buffer beam.












A second interesting photograph of the box and lid is shown with the replica, reference picture split and pasted equally between the lid (left) and the 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, not to everyone's taste but, in my opinion, 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 and is presented in the same poster style as above.  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

Montages

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.