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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, 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 ando 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 express 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 www.postalheritage.org.uk/history 



Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Three from the Southern Railway

Today's post, 27th August 2014, features 'Schools' class, 'Lord Nelson'  class and 'S15' class locomotives, pictured in the following jigsaws from my collection.


The 'Schools' or 'V' class 4-4-0 locomotive pictured first, is No.926 Repton, (built in 1934); the jigsaw puzzle is a 350-piece example from Castile. The locomotive is preserved on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR) but currently under repair - see the photograph at the end of this post.. The class of 40 entered service between 1930-35 under the control of Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Southern Railway Richard Maunsell; they were named after public schools. The artist is not named unfortunately. Many pictures of the engine can be found on the Internet.



The second picture features a 'Lord Nelson' class 4-6-0 titled SR Lord Nelson Class 4-6-0 No 864 Sir Martin Frobisher (built 1929); it is part of the 500-piece, multi-series Age of Steam jigsaws from Arrow. The locomotive was one of sixteen, built for the Southern Railway between 1926-29, by Richard Maunsell. George Heiron was the artist. In the picture the coaches are Pullman examples thus the train must be a 'Boat Train' such as the 'Golden Arrow'. The latter was hauled regularly by the 'Lord Nelson' class locomotives until superceded by the more powerful 4-6-2s of Oliver Bulleid.




A 'S15' class 4-6-0 of Richard Maunsell again, (originals built by W. Urie for the London & South Western Railway from 1920) is shown in the final picture of a 300-piece jigsaw from manufacturer Falcon titled The East Anglian. The class of 45 were built in three batches with the final example entering service in 1936. The photograph of No.841 is a little confusing but with the help of Dave Peel's brilliant book Locomotive Headboards - The Complete Story I'll try and explain. The headboard in the photograph 'The East Anglian' (with definite article) was introduced c1951 but the locomotive was withdrawn from service in 1964. If genuine in context, this places the jigsaw photograph between 1951 and 1964. However, the locomotive was only named Greene King after being rescued from Barry Scrapyard in 1972 so the photograph cannot be placed within those dates. The photograph must be of a special train operated in the preservation era as 'The East Anglian'. Many pictures of the locomotive can be found on the Internet. The engine is based on the NYMR but rumours persist that parts of the locomotive are used to keep 'S15' compatriot No.825 in operation. Hence, the future for No.841 is bleak.



Just for interest this photograph of No.826 Repton was taken in April 2014 by my brother and shows the engine in its current state, awaiting maintenance at Grosmont on the NYMR. Following nationalisation in 1948, the locomotive was re-numbered 30926.




Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Giants of the Track

Compared with my previous post, two' leviathans' of the track are featured in jigsaws depicted in today's post, 19th August 2014. The locomotives are pictured in pre and post British Railways (1948) days, respectively. The London & North Eastern Railway and London Midland Region are represented.













The first photograph (left) shows a 500-piece jigsaw from the Arrow Age of Steam multi-series depicting Class 'P2' 2-8-2 No.2004 Mons Meg. The artist was George Heiron. The locomotive is portrayed in typical LNER livery, pre 1948: the  class designer was the famous engineer (Sir) Nigel Gresley. The powerful  class of six locomotives was introduced onto the LNER between 1934 and 1936. They were designed to negotiate the harsh terrain between Edinburgh and Aberdeen to eliminate the use of double-heading, smaller locomotives on Kings Cross - Aberdeen expresses. Because of their size and weight however, they also damaged the track on occasions and were withdrawn from service in 1944. The coaches in the painting are the famous Gresley teak examples. These huge locomotives were re-built by Gresley's successor Edward Thompson as 4-6-2 locomotives, class 'A2/2', much to the displeasure of LNER aficionados. 

The second picture features a 500-piece jigsaw from JR Puzzles (now marketed by JHG Puzzles of Salisbury) from the Age of Steam series of four jigsaws. The locomotive is 'Princess Royal' class 4-6-2, No.46208 Princess Helena Victoria of the London Midland Region of British Railways, although she originated as part of a class of thirteen built between 1933-35 during the London Midland & Scottish Railway era. The designer was (Sir) William Stanier, Chief Mechanical Engineer of the LMS. The locomotive is pictured heading the 'Merseyside Express' (Euston - Liverpool Lime Street) in British Railways days (post 1948) wearing her original LMS livery. I am not sure of the location in the Edgar Hodges' painting but this express was a firm favourite with many artists, particularly as it negotiated the gradient through the long cutting from Liverpool Lime street to Edge Hill stations. The early BR 'cycling lion' motif on the tender in the painting, represents a context date c1948-56. The main Scottish expresses out of Euston such as the 'Royal Scot', were often headed by engines from the class.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Great Little Trains of Wales

In today's post, 8th August 2014, I am using three photographs of jigsaw puzzles representing narrow gauge railways in Wales.


Up first is a 400-piece jigsaw from Whitman titled Festiniog Railway. The jigsaw photograph features a passenger service passing through the glorious Snowdonia National park. The Ffestiniog Railway was saved from dereliction in 1952 and officially re-opened as a commercial venture in 1982. For more historical details about this narrow gauge railway look up the previous post of 20th May 2014. The jigsaw is one of a series of six titled The Great Little Trains of Wales made by Philmar.



The second picture features another jigsaw from the same Philmar series, the Llanberis Lake Railway.  The narrow gauge railway runs for 2.5 miles from Gilfach Ddu Station Llanberis, to Pen Llyn, along the northern shore of Lyn Padarn in Snowdonia. Trains run from Easter until September. The little red locomotive in the jigsaw photograph is a Hunslet 0-4-0 saddle tank type built in 1889, and named Elidir. The latter was originally built for working the Dinorwic Quarry and named Enid; she was re-named Red Damsel later.



The Talyllyn Railway Wales is the title of the next jigsaw, a 320-piece example from Tower Press under the 'Mallard' brand. The Talyllyn Railway was built in 1864 to carry slate from Bryn Eglwys quarry to Tywyn where it was distributed via the main line. The railway closed in 1946 following a serious rock fall but was re-opened by the Talyllyn Railway Preservation Society in 1951 and became the world's first preserved railway. The jigsaw photograph includes a small locomotive No.1 Talyllyn, taking on water, possibly at Dalgoch Falls. The background comprises rhododendron bushes in full bloom and several passengers, in summer clothes, waiting to board the train.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Philmar's Inter-changeable Centres

As the title clearly states this post, 28th July 2014, features a jigsaw puzzle from Philmar with inter-changeable centres.


The first pic shows the 72-piece surround with the first core of 18 pieces. The latter in this case is a BR (ex LNER) 'A4' class 4-6-2 of (Sir) Nigel Gresley, No.60025 Falcon. The locomotive is pictured heading the famous 'Flying Scotsman' express. The surround is extremely pictorial with signal box, signal gantry and road bridge to the fore. The main focus, however, is the two children waving to the train from a line-side fence, accompanied by the family dog. A lorry provides additional interest as it approaches the bridge in the background.





The second and third pics shown together, feature the other two interchangeable centres - a BR (ex SR), un-rebuilt 'Merchant Navy' class 4-6-2 of Oliver Bulleid,  No.35019 French Line CGT and a BR (ex LMS) 'Jubilee' class 4-6-0 of (Sir) William Stanier, No.45602 British Honduras.

Although made primarily for children, this puzzle is a 'must have' for inclusion in thematic, steam train jigsaw collections.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Steam Trains and Canals


Today's post, 16th July 2014, is dedicated to the steam trains and canals genre from my 450+ strong thematic collection of UK steam train jigsaw puzzles. 

By the 1820s around 2,200 miles of canal had been built in the UK. The opening of the Stockton and Darlington Railway in 1825 and the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in 1830 proved to be decisive moments in the change from canal transportation to that of the railways. In terms of transport time, it was generally accepted that canals could compete with railways at the speed of a horse drawn barge. But railways could and did travel much faster. From the above dates the superiority of railways was accepted unanimously.



A steam train on a main line beside or crossing a picturesque canal in a tranquil British countryside setting - what artist could ignore such a scenario? Not many it seems. Nostalgia and serenity emanate from the three jigsaw pictures I have chosen to illustrate this particular transport combination.


The first picure features a jigsaw of 1000 pieces by Ravensnsburger titled Canalside Memories. In Trevor Mitchell's artwork, Chirk Aqueduct, built by Thomas Telford in 1801 to carry the Ellesmere Canal across the Ceiriog Valley, is featured running parallel with a higher railway viaduct. A large, cargo narrow-boat dragged by a working horse is pictured traversing the aqueduct and pedestrians are included on the aqueduct footpath for effect. A ‘Castle’ class 4-6-0 locomotive is pictured hauling a passenger train across the railway viaduct. The narrow boat Gifford included in the picture is preserved at the Ellesmere Port Boat Museum, but can be spotted occasionally on the UK canal network. She was built in 1926 as a tank boat for Thomas Clayton (Oldbury) Ltd., and used to carry bulk liquids such as creosote, crude oil and tar on Midlands' Canals. She was restored in 1971.



Classic DeLuxe also issued jigsaws in this category in 2008, duplicating paintings (2002) by Kevin Parrish. My second picture shows one of these puzzles, of 500-piece example, titled Canal Crossing. Depicted are a small motorboat or narrowboat  moored on a canal bank with a small boy in charge. He is waving at the driver of a small GWR locomotive (a 'Manor' class 4-6-0?) as it crosses a bridge above the canal, heading a rake of GWR chocolate and cream passenger coaches.




The third photograph features the second 500-piece jigsaw from Classic Deluxe titled Canal Cruise. This is another from Kevin’s portfolio of 2002. This and the previous puzzle capture the empathy between canal narrow boats and steam locomotion perfectly. In this puzzle a blue and black liveried narrow-boat, Water Lily, with at least three people on board, is travelling serenely along a tree-lined canal at sunrise (or sunset) having just passed beneath a brick, arched bridge. On the bridge, a British Railways (BR) 'Standard' 2-6-2T tank locomotive of George Ivatt is shown heading maroon coaches. 

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

A Wentworth Duo

Two modern wooden puzzles from the UK manufacturer Wentworth are featured in today's post, 1st July 2014.T


The Wentworth company was only formed in 1994 in Malmesbury, Wiltshire but has achieved global recognition in its short existence. Each wooden puzzle includes unique, specially shaped ‘whimsy’ pieces some of which, typically, relate to the jigsaw picture. A huge number (over 100) of steam train titles are included under the Wentworth name in my inventory of steam train puzzles, a remarkable number. Famous artists such as Barry Freeman and Malcolm Root are strongly represented. Standard sizes range from 250-1500 pieces but smaller examples are also made.



The first picture features a 250-piece puzzle replicating artwork by Malcom Root. Titled Coasting Down to Kyle the jigsaw depicts a scene in the Highlands beside Loch Carron. A Stanier 'Black Five' is coasting towards the terminus at Kyle of Lochalsh, the main ferry port for crossing to Skye, before the Skye road bridge was opened in 1995. The locomotive in the picture is preserved and Malcolm painted it for one of the co-owners. The locomotive was the 184th departure from the famous Woodham Bros'  Barry Scrapyard* in January 1987, having arrived 21years earlier. It is now under restoration at the Colne Valley Railway in Essex. 



The second picture shows another 250-piece Wentworth puzzle titled Corfe Station. The artwork is by Gerald Savine - both Malcolm Root and Gerald are members of the prestigious Guild of Railway Artists (GRA). The jigsaw picture features a BR ‘Standard’ class ‘4’ locomotive, No.80078, leaving Corfe Castle Station in Dorset with a passenger service. The scene is entirely rural with the famous castle providing a historical backdrop. The scene has always been popular with photographers and artists, up to the present day. The Swanage Railway currently hosts the 2-6-4T locomotive, the 84th engine rescued from Barry Scrapyard* in 1976, following arrival for breaking up in 1966.



* A fantastic book, Barry Scrapyard : The Preservation Miracle by Alan Warren, is available on many Internet book sites and is highly recommended.