Sunday, 12 February 2017
Saturday, 21 January 2017
This blog was always going to contain infrequent posts, simply because compiling information about Peter Gilder can be hard to locate. I still hope that casual readers of this modest blog will get in touch with images, anecdotes, information or whatever to build up a more comprehensive picture.
So for completeness sake we come onto Battleground produced by Tyne Tees Television, which was my local television company in the 1970's.
I could never understand why TTTv took on the mantle of wargaming until I was privileged enough to sit down with Charlie Wesencraft a couple of years ago,when he explained how it all came about:
RR, I recently discovered that you had some input into the iconic Battleground series produced by the now defunct Tyne Tees Television. How did that come about?
CW, I had been asked by North Tyneside Council to do a series of six historical wargames for them.
On the first night two ladies from the local television company turned up and asked me about wargaming in general. I heard nothing for a while, but then I received a telephone call out of the blue from Tyne Tees Television asking if I could write a series of six scripts of battles fought by famous military personalities. Originally I wanted to portray the Battle of Cannae, and Hannibal, but the producer said very few people would know who he was! So they asked me to do Julius Caesar instead. I call them scripts but actually they had to be written on one page of foolscap, it was an interesting problem.
RR, I remember watching the series, and wanting to re fight the battles, it was amazing to a young wargamer.
CW, What actually happened was that I got John Braithwaite to help me prepare the battles. It was decided by the producer that we should record a pilot battle to see how things looked. I remember the producer, she was a vicar's daughter who swore like a trooper, I was appalled!
A younger wargamer called Peter Gilder was supposed to do the first battle, but nerves got the better of him. Peter had an anxiety attack and ended up fainting and being taken to hospital.
So John and I did the pilot. I remember that the producer wanted us to throw a six to hit a gun, well of course neither John or I could manage to throw one, so we had to cheat a bit. They then insisted on smoke being blown all over the battlefield to add some drama, as if having beautiful wargames figures on a table wasn't enough.
Anyway the series was accepted, filmed and released for television.
RR, I have been lucky enough to have a dvd of four of the battles, I still think they are great, especially Gettysberg and Waterloo.
I think Battleground reinforced my love of wargaming and filled me with the ambition to replicate what I saw on the programme.It is of its time, and can be very laboured when watched nowadays. Still I love to watch Gilder ragging poor John Braithwaite, he must have been a nightmare to fight against.
John Braithwaite [ Garrison Miniatures] 'enjoying a verbal and physical towsing by Peter Gilder. It got even worse in the Gettysburg episode I seem to remember.
Anyway I thought it would be good if I included a link to the the hard work done by Doug Crowther when he downloaded the Battleground programmes onto You Tube.
So for people who would like to wallow in some great wargaming nostalgia, fill your boots.
Wednesday, 17 August 2016
More images from the collections of Peter Gilder, for your delectation and admiration.
Still my favourite images from the Peter Gilder collections, his Italian Wars armies.
Monday, 11 July 2016
Tony Dillon, has very kindly sent me recorded footage of his visits to Peter Gilder's Wargames Holiday Centre, with a small explanation to go with the footage.
When I went to see the Basingstoke re-incarnation of the Wargames Holiday Centre a couple of years ago I gave the new proprietor Mark Freeth a copy of the various videos that I’d taken of the WHC since fist going in the early 80’s. I have no footage of the first premises at Bridgefoot House which was a smaller setup altogether but I took video footage of most of my games at Folkton.
It should be pointed out that the video was recorded 30+ years ago and therefore before digital cameras became the norm. I have had several video tape cameras over the years, some with full size VHS cassettes and others with a smaller format cartridge. These tapes have been transferred onto my VHS tapes and more recently digitised so that they can be played on my computer.
This accounts for some of the dodgy quality of the sound and inability to focus accurately. I’m afraid that my mumbling in the background doesn’t help matters as I try to explain what’s going on in the games.
Several wargamimg worthies make an appearance including the great man himself Peter Gilder, Pete Morebey of Elite Miniatures, Doug Mason whose excellent conversions and painted figures graced so many wargames magazines and also Mark Allen, another superb painter and modeller.
The tape opens in 1986, I think, and shows members of the Ladywood Club from Birmingham playing with a Russian/Austrian Prussian army against a French and Allies army. This was a re-fight but a made up scenario involving the forcing of a river crossing. I played with Russian figures and was on the left hand flank.
Pete Gilder appears at 2.19 and acknowledges that “I was there sir!” I’m not sure what accent he is putting on but it is amusing. Throughout the video you can hear PG explain the rules and how they should be applied. He was present for long periods of time when the games were on which allowed played to seek clarification on any points raised by the players.
At 3.39 Doug Mason appears sporting a beard. I’d know Doug since his time in Birmingham where he’d been a regular member of the Ladywood club and already had a reputation s an outstanding painter and modeller. I have some examples of his work in my collection and always admire the attention to detail that he put in to each figure.
I appear in camera at 4.06 in case you want to know what I look like. I was much younger then and had more hair. My scouse accent was still fairly strong in case you’re wondering what I’m saying.
At 7.01 Doug explains his successful tactics on the right hand flank in his own confident style.
The battle continues to rage over the first day. It’s noticeable that there are many different makes of figures out on the table including Minifigs, Hinchliffe and Connoisseur.
The room was quiet on the Sunday morning so I stood on a stool to film the whole table. This gives an idea of the size of the games at the WHC and the marvellous terrain and buildings available.
Marshal Victor with a broad Scottish brogue makes his views known regarding how the game is going for the French. If I remember correctly the French lost this one as can be seen by the face on the player who was Napoleon.
23 Mins shows another game (Austerlitz) is starting. Peter is ensuring that the correct figures are available to the players. The hardboard tiles used for initial/hidden movement are visible as is Peter Morebey of Elite Miniatures fame.
Excuse the section where a chap discusses Coronary Heart Disease but as mentioned above the various videos where copied and recopied over many years before being uploaded onto YouTube.
34 mins a young Mark Allen appears. He was very ill that weekend and had just delivered some excellent Austrian Cavalry figures to Peter.
The footage of this game is all rather brief which suggests that I was too busy to do much filming.
There are a few moments at the end of the upload that show the Battle of Leipzig being started but it ends abruptly. I have another hour or so of footage of the WHC that hasn’t been uploaded onto YouTube yet as this cover the Mike Ingham era rather than Peter Glider’s.
Guy Barlow, a fellow member of the A Military Gentleman Forum, has kindly sent me his account of his trips to the Gilder Holiday Centre as a young man of 15. I would like thank him for taking the trouble to put together an account of how Peter Gilder made such an impression on a young wargamer.
The other guests were either other teenagers or adults and most nights the adults went into the village to the pub. We then watched war movies (Waterloo, A Bridge Too Far, the Battleground series etc) in the TV room or read from his library. Peter also had a cupboard full of figures where we could buy things.
I was first consciously aware of Peter Gilder and his Holiday Centre when I read an article about him in the May 1980 edition of Military Modelling Magazine. His figures were also on the front cover of that magazine. The British Napoleonic firing line was awe inspiring. I had definitely seen his work before for example on the front cover of Bruce Quarrie’s book Napoleon’s Campaigns in Miniature which I bought in 1977.
That book became my first real wargaming book and as a result I started collecting my first Napoleonic army - the Russians. I initially bought Minifigs after a visit to the Minifig shop in Victoria but then switched to Hinchliffe figures probably because these were the ones featured in the Quarrie book and the only wargames shop I knew near my home in North Staffordshire was a shop called Stafford Garrison which sold Hinchliffe figures.
Without wanting to sound like some awful Adrian Mole character (I was aged 15 at the time) I kept a diary in those days so I can be fairly precise what happened. On 29th April 1980 I bought the magazine and the next day I wrote off for a brochure and on 6th May I got a letter back from Peter Gilder.
After pestering my long suffering father, I booked a general week at the Thornton-le-Dale centre. My father dropped me off at Derby station and I took the train on Sunday 10th August 1980 to York where Peter collected us. Having read Paul’s recollections, I‘m afraid I was one of those unaccompanied children but honestly I hope I wasn’t too much of a pain.
There were definitely 8 of us at that week. A few of the names from my diary are David from Birmingham, Eric from York and Simon from Devon. From what I remember Peter was there almost all the time. On the Monday we played a Napoleonic game to introduce us to the rules. I played Russians against the French and lost.
Then on Tuesday a US Civil war game. On Wednesday it was British against the French and learning how to paint horses etc with oils. Peter had a small painting shed and he spent time explaining how he painted. I still have a few examples of what we painted together. I also remember cowboy game in the evening. Finally a 2 day mass Napoleonic game – French against Russians and Austrians. This was inconclusive as the game swung across the table and there were so many troops it was impossible to manoeuvre.
Reading Paul’s recollections, I do not recall any disappointment and in fact my reaction was that I was totally blown away by the set up. If some of the figures were not brilliantly painted they were so much better than mine that it did not even register. I went back twice more to Thornton–le-Dale in the following summers when I was 16 and 17. Once again they were primarily Napoleonic weeks but we also played games in the Sudan and more Civil War. I became a Grand Manner convert after my visit. My Russian units were expanded from 24 – 32 figures and they were rebased. The launching of Miniature Wargames magazine with all those lovely figures on the covers only spurred me on.
Reading my diaries on the later visits, many of the other guests came from abroad ie France and Sweden. Also from the photos quite a few of the other guests were also teenagers or students. Perhaps this was because we could only go in school holidays. This may have been a bit of a burden for him but on every week I went to, the place was full. At all times Peter and his wife were very welcoming.
Later on I also did a couple of weekends at Scarborough as I was at uni down the coast at Hull and it was only a short train ride away. One of those was after Peter was no longer there. We played a large Marlborough Blenheim game and also an Arnhem game on those weekends.
It’s strange what you remember but on my third visit to Thornton-le Dale this was just after I had passed my driving test. I was only 17 and I borrowed my mum’s car and drove it all the way to Yorkshire. Once Peter found out he banned me from taking my car out for the week as he clearly thought my parents were bonkers and he certainly banned me from going to the pub as I was under age. I also remember him not being impressed with some of the teenagers smoking. One of the French boys was like a chimney.
So in conclusion I can say I have very happy memories of my visits to Peter’s centre. They were a crucial catalyst period in my wargaming life and for the next couple of decades I continued to collect Napoleonic’s and I also had a sojourn into the Sudan. I have attached some photos from those 3 visits. Only the first dates from 1980. I have tried to send you photos of people rather than just out of focus ones of the troops. Regretfully my camera was pretty rubbish so the quality is not that great but perhaps someone will be able to put names to faces.
Sunday, 10 July 2016
The Sudan was a popular, small war played at Gilder's Wargames Holiday Centre. Figures painted in the main by Dave Thomas with a smattering of units by the wonderful Doug Mason.
Gilder, also introduced a skirmish game, using red Indians and American cavalry.