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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

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.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Three Named Expresses

Today's post, 5th May 2015, comprises photographs of three jigsaw puzzles, each showing a named passenger service.

'The Waverley’ was a St Pancras - Edinburgh express which began as the ‘Thames-Forth Express’ in the late 1920’s. The re-named express, complete with headboard, ran from 1957 until 1968. David Charlesworth’s excellent painting - The Waverley passing Horn’s Bridge Hotel, Chesterfield - was used as a 500-piece jigsaw and re-titled The Waverley at Horn’s Bridge Chesterfield. The puzzle was made exclusively for Country House Treasures, Chesterfield and is shown in the first photograph. Ex London Midland & Scottish Railway (1923-1948) ‘Jubilee’ class 4-6-0 locomotive, No.45561 Saskatchewan, is shown in the painting heading the famous express past the Horn’s Bridge signal box (and hotel?) in the British Railways era (1948 - 1968). 


The second photograph features an ex GWR express 'The Bristolian'. Titled "The Bristolian" - Britains fastest train, the puzzle from Ponda/Ian Allan, comprises 72 wooden pieces. In Vic Welch's artwork the locomotive hard at work is an unidentified member of  Charles Collett's, giant 4-6-0 'King' class, and the setting is British Railways' Western Region. The BR emblem on the tender indicates a date between 1948 and 1956, approximately. 'The Bristolian' was inaugurated in GWR days c1935, without a headboard, and ran between Paddington and Bristol Temple Meads. The headboard in the picture is the first type c1953; a slightly later type incorporated the badges of London and Bristol.


The 'Mid-Day Scot' is the final named express featured in today's post. The service began in 1927 and ran between Euston and Glasgow Central, leaving at around lunchtime from each station. The artwork in this 500-piece jigsaw from the JR Puzzles Nostalgia series, titled Mid-Day Scot, is by Edgar Hodges. Featured is the huge 'Princess Coronation' class 4-6-2 locomotive of (Sir) William Stanier, No. 46243 City of Lancaster. The locomotive is pictured at speed without a headboard: the latter was only introduced c1951, during the British Railways', London Midland Region era. The setting for the painting is clearly the  LMS, (London Midland & Scottish Railway) era, 1923-1948.

Once again I am indebted to Dave Peel's superb book Locomotive Headboards. The Complete Story. I thoroughly recommend the book to anyone interested in British Railways.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Artist Philip D. Hawkins


In past posts I have described the influence of artists on steam railway jigsaw puzzles - Don Breckon, Kevin Walsh, Terence Cuneo, Barry Freeman, George Heiron, John Austin, Malcolm Root, among others, and included a few biographical notes. Following on in the same vein, this post, 21st April 2015, describes two puzzles featuring artwork by Philip D. Hawkins, an artist at the very top of his profession.

Philip’s passion for painting stemmed from his childhood in Winson Green, Birmingham in the 1950's. Here, where LMS and GWR railways crossed within yards of his home, the sights and sounds of steam trains cultivated an immense fascination. His early trainspotting days were spent on coaches with members of the Birmingham Locospotters Club and with friends in cars, on trains and on trusty bicycles. Stations, sheds and locomotive works, nationwide, were all included in his travels. After sitting his 'O' levels he left school immediately and signed on at Birmingham College of Art and Design for courses spanning four years. He graduated as a Technical Illustrator and following several career changes, he joined the ranks of professional artists in 1978. Since then his list of commissions from private and corporate clients can only be described as impressive. He has had two books published of his paintings - in 1998 (Tracks on Canvas) and 2005 (Steam on Canvas), and 32 paintings included in the 1994 book, The Trains We Loved. He is a founder member, past Chairman, Honorary Fellow (1998) and Past President (1988-1998) of the Guild of Railway Artists.


The first picture shows a 1000-piece example from Parker Hilton (Falcon) titled On Time. The painting is the result of a commission from The Birmingham Post & Mail in 1985 to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Great Western Railway (GWR). The location was quite obvious - one of the most famous of GWR stations - Birmingham Snow Hill. According to his first book, Tracks on Canvas, after much deliberation, Philip chose 1947 and platform 7 as the year and specific spot for his painting. 'King' class 4-6-0, No.6008 King James II is pictured with a Paddington-bound train at around mid-day, according to the equally famous clock. 



Featured in the second picture is the Gibsons' 1000-piece jigsaw titled Summer Saturday at Snow Hill. This painting features the station several years later than in the picture described above, when annual seaside holidays by local people were facilitated by the railways. 'The Cornishman' ran from Wolverhampton to Penzance and the particular headboard in Philip's painting was introduced c1957 according to Dave Peel,'s superb book Locomotive Headboards. The Complete Story. The locomotive portrayed is 'Castle' class 4-6-0 No.5070 Sir Daniel Gooch and a 'Prairie' tank 2-6-2,  heading a local service, is also included in the picture.

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.