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.
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.....
On one occasion, after a few pints, it took me quite a while to find that room.
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.
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
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.
Donald 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
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!"
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.