Tuesday, 17 May 2016

The Wargames Holiday Centre.

The Wargames Holiday Centre.
   One of the wargames innovations that Peter Gilder can be credited with is the creation of his fabled Wargames Holiday Centre. What could be better than to fight over the famous terrain created by Peter Gilder, and use the large beautifully painted units with other like minded people. Wargames Nirvana.
   Initially it was based at the lovely village of Thornton le Dale in North Yorkshire, where Peter and Doreen Gilder bought an old Doctor's surgery which they ran as a bed and breakfast before morphing into the first Wargames Holiday Centre. 
  After a few years, Doreen Gilder grew tired of the visiting wargamers messing up her home,so it was moved to the Enchanted Cottage at Folkton near Scarborough, which allowed the visitors to stay at a nearby hotel.
 I never actually attended the original version of the Wargames Centre hosted by Peter Gilder, but was lucky enough to go to both the late Mike Ingham's Centre and lately the Mark Freeth Centre.
 Naturally the wargamers who attended the Centre had to play by Peter Gilder's rules, In the Grand Manner, a Mamarite set of rules.

Below is a copy of an original Military Modelling article regarding the Wargames Centre, God how I was envious of the set up when I read the article.

Peter Gilder had many contacts in the wargaming world, and was able to call on the talents of some of the best figure painters in the United Kingdom, including the great Tony Runkee, Doug Mason, Phil Robinson, Mark Allen, Mark Moon, Dave Thomas and many others who willingly created some of Gilder's most iconic units that were later published in the Miniature Wargames magazine, and inspired so many wargamers including myself.

Mamelukes painted by the great Doug Mason.
 An image of some of the original figures from the centre, and later sold by Mike Ingham.

Mark Strachan of   '1866 and All That' blogspot, has very kindly written a piece regarding his visit to the Wargames Holiday Centre in 1986, if any other reader has some anecdote to recount, then please get in touch and we will add it to the site.....

In August 1986 I made my first visit to the UK as an adult. One of the highlights of that trip was to visit Peter Gilder's Wargames Holiday Centre near Scarborough. gust 1986 I made my first visit to the UK as an adult. One of the highlights of that trip 
After a torturous 24 hour flight from Auckland to the UK I spent some time at my aunt's house in Sussex before heading to Nottingham then onto Doncaster where I visited Terry Wise's Athena Books, before making my way to Scarborough. The week at the Holiday Centre included a week's board, breakfast and dinner in a local hotel that I recall was a rabbit warren of a place - my room was up one or two flights of stairs, turn left on a landing, up a couple of steps to another landing, then right, up two more steps and around a corner.

one occasion, after a few pints, it took me quite a while to find that room. 
On that Sunday evening I went down to the dining room that was full of holiday makers, it was late summer after all, apart from two little tables to one side where the wargamers sat. I seem to recall that there were perhaps ten or twelve of us. After dinner we retired to the bar where we met Peter. He was a quiet man I thought, unassuming and someone you felt instantly at ease with. After introductions we all piled into a mini van and raced off to the Holiday Centre, that was about a 20 minute drive away, where for the first time we saw the magnificent set up he had there.

The games room was in the back of the family home, set on perhaps an acre of land and 
consisted of a long rectangular building with two tables 27 feet long by 6 feet wide, and separated by a gap of 3 feet. Against one wall was another 27 foot long table, but this time only 3 feet wide, that could be used as troop assembly area, or for off table manoeuvring.

After getting to know our host and the gaming facilities we were given the keys to the mini van and went back to the hotel in Scarborough. That van became our self-drive transport  for the week.

During the week there were four games played. The first was a Napoleonic, followed by 
(not necessarily in order) Pony Wars and the Italian Wars. The last two days were a refight of Austerlitz, played across two tables and involving some 5,000 and some purpose built terrain boards - I can remember trying to manoeuvre around those damned lakes. Thirty 
years has passed since that week, so the details of the games are long gone, but the spectacle is still clearly remembered.

Each day we would arrive about 9:00 am and play solidly until Peter's wife and daughter 
brought in sandwiches for lunch. We would then play on until about 5:00 pm when we would all pile back into the mini van and return to the hotel for dinner. Some evenings were spent back at the Holiday Centre, while others were in the bar. 
At least one evening was spent hearing Peter's stories about his gaming past. Three of those come to mind;
One is from the vary early days of gaming when he would game with
Featherstone, Charles Grant, Peter Young and a lesser known man called Bill Gunson. The five of them used to travel to each other's homes around the country for a weekend to play games. Peter described how they were went at Bill Gunson's place for a weekend, arriving on the Friday and leaving on Sunday. On the Friday night, Peter and Bill got into a rather heated discussion about rules and Bill became so annoyed he tipped the 
whole table over, dumping all the figures on the floor, and stormed out. Featherstone turned to Peter and said "well you've buggered that up, what are we going to do for the rest of the weekend?" But Bill got over it, set the game up again, apologised and they got on with it.

Another story was about when Peter was playing in and WRG Ancients final at some 
convention in the 1970's. His opponent always seemed to roll high and Peter jokingly said " you must have two sixes on that die!", and someone looking more closely said "he has!" 
With that the chap who had lost to this guy in the semi-finals (and had had a few pints by this stage) chased the chap around the hall in some sort of Benny Hill chase. Peter won by default.

On another occasion, again from the very early days, was a game at Peter Young's house, 
they had all gone to bed when Peter Gilder heard a noise upstairs in the games room. He asked Charles Grant, "what is that noise?" Grant replied, "its alright, it is just Peter putting back his casualties."

Peter didn't play in the games at the Holiday Centre, and after setting up the games he would just let us go, drifting back in from time to time. He told me that he loved to watch people play. He liked to see the interaction between player, the cries of delight in victory, the howls of anguish in defeat and the arguments about rules. When I look at it myself  today, that human aspect is half the fun of my games.

I do remember that during that week I was on the losing side in every game! But it was a 
fun week amongst some interesting players. If the truth be told I enjoyed meeting Peter as much as anything else, not out of any sort of hero worship, but more that he was the type of person with whom you had that instant rapport.

                                                    Images from Mark's visit.


  1. Thanks Mark and Robbie for taking the trouble to present this interesting memoir.

  2. Evening Chris,
    My only poster, and probably follower as well.I am sitting down with the founder members of Peter Gilder's first wargames club on Sunday, and hopefully I will be able to pad out Peter's story.
    Thanks for your comment.

  3. Hi Robbie
    I have some video of PG from way back when.Mark Freeth put it up on Youtube a while back


    I can fill in the gaps if you want.Gilder is in the footage, so is Mark Allen, Doug Mason and Pete Moreby

    1. Tony,
      That would be really kind of you, really this blog is about other people who knew,,met played with Peter Gilder, and also people who are in possession of anything Gilder related.

    2. Hi Robbie
      I'll go through the video and take some notes to explain what's going on. It starts in the mid 80's when I was a member of the Birmingham Wargames Club and then the SODS.We published the second edition of ITGM rules(the green cover). Mike Ingham was a SOD which led to him taking over the WHC after PG.

      I'll get back to you when I've looked at the video, shall I use this blog to contact you?My email is tonydillon09@gmail.com