Monday, 11 July 2016

Tony Dillon at the Wargames Holiday Centre, Youtube footage.

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.

A Visit to the Wargames Holiday Centre, 10th August 1980.

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.

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.

 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.

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

Images from Wargames Illustrated, 6 through 10.

 Charging Carabineers, from the Wargames Holiday Centre, created by a very talented Mark Allen for Peter Gilder. The centre was sold in 1988 by Peter Gilder, to the late Mike Ingham, along with the majority of the collections that Gilder had built up over the preceding years.

  Dutch Lancers, charging Russian troops, crated by Mark Allen, who even in 1988 was a master of the crashing cavalryman.
 An image from the Italian Wars, using Connisseur Figures, and painted by Phil Robinson, Dave Thomas and Peter Gilder, I believe.

 A beautiful Gallia Castle, with figures painted by Phil Robinson, Dave Thomas and Peter Gilder.

 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.

                Spanish Napoleonic's now, using dragoons painted by Dave Thomas.
Gilder, also introduced a skirmish game, using red Indians and American cavalry.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Units from Peter Gilder's and associates American War of Independence Armies.

Having now been thoroughly chastised I have amended this to read that this images include some of the AWI collection of Peter Gilder, that were recently, well the last year or so, sold, thankfully they remain in the United Kingdom.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Photographs from Wargames Illustarted issues 1 through 5 1987.

                 Photographs from Wargames Illustrated 1 through 5 1987.
 One of the intentions of this blog is to create a record of the famous and not so famous images from the Miniature Wargames and Wargames Illustrated wargames magazines edited by Duncan Macfarlane. All images from WI are courtesy of Phil Robinson who kindly loaned me his PDF'S.
I hope to get additional information regarding who painted what figures from the collections.

 The figures from the Italian Wars were painted by a young Dave Thomas and Peter Gilder.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

The Original Brochure for the Wargames Holiday Centre.

To coincide with Peter Gilder opening his Wargames Holiday Centre he was interviewed by John North who was a reporter for the Northern Echo. Unfortunately John North had a reporting style that viewed wargaming as a novelty. Strangely he still reports in the same way.
All courtesy of my long suffering wargaming Nemesis, John Reidy.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Alberken FN30 French Fusiler.

Kindly donated by the Hinton Spieler blog site; showing one of the figures designed by Peter Gilder when he worked for Alberken. I can understand why Hinton Hunt was a tad upset, but to be fair to Gilder the Alberken appears bigger and a bit crisper in detail. It is all subjective of course.
Der Kriegspielers, DK 12: French line infantry 1812, advancing;

Hinton Hunt FN 5: French line infantry 1812-15, fusilier, charging; and

Alberken FN 30: French Napoleonic infantry, fusilier, advancing.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Peter Gilder and Me

                                Peter Gilder and Me – Part Three.
                                   by Paul Leniston.

We returned from our week’s break at the Wargames Holiday Centre in Scarborough very tired but greatly motivated and determined to return again. At the next meeting of the Devizes Wargames Club we told our stories of the week’s wargaming and everyone agreed it would be an excellent idea to book a weekend game as a club.

My wife Jan also had to put up with my enthusiasm about everything at the Wargames Holiday Centre. She was also keen to join the club weekend visit, though as a spectator rather than a player. She was not a regular member of the club, and did not know most of the members very well. However she was particularly interested to see the collection of model soldiers and even more the scenery and buildings. Jan has always been interested in model building and had been very impressed with Peter’s model buildings.

It took quite some time to confirm who would be able to join the weekend, rather than those who would like to do so but could not afford the time or the expense. It would be about a year before we finally booked a weekend fighting Leipzig.

  Our group took the French command and a varied collection of other wargamers played the allies. This game was much better planned and executed than Waterloo on the previous visit. Peter gave us each a written command brief and map and we spent the first night planning the battle.

   Once again Peter left us to get on with the actual wargaming, and despite our planning the game soon became something of a shambles. Most of our group had a working knowledge of In The Grand Manner rules, though only three of us were experienced Napoleonic wargamers.
   I have no idea how much our opponents knew of the rules, but the particular chap I was playing against seemed to have no more than a passing knowledge. Playing with a stranger, without an umpire, is always a little difficult. In circumstances where he has paid to take part and is pretty determined to win it can be more than a little difficult.
  After an hour or so I was pretty fed up with him moving his figures without bothering to measure, and hotly resenting my attempts to explain the rules and why he could not always do what he wanted to do.

  As a small part of a large multiplayer game I did not want to spoil everyone’s enjoyment of the game, but it is difficult to maintain interest when the other player is clearly cheating. I am not sure which side won the game because I had lost interest after the first few hours.

   Jan had watched the game for an hour or so and then went off to explore the shelves of model soldiers and buildings. When we booked I had explained to Peter that Jan would not be taking an active part in the wargame, but would be very interested in his model buildings. He suggested that they get together so he could explain his model making and painting techniques.

 Driving back to Salisbury Jan was as excited about the model making as I had been about the whole centre after my first visit. Apparently those complicated looking buildings which graced the pages of the model magazines were constructed from various wooden blocks. Very basic model making.    However the skill came in the details and painting. He was certainly a very talented man.

  I was also quite surprised to hear that he was becoming increasingly disappointed in the centre. Most of the people who attended the WHC were very appreciative of what he had achieved and marveled at the collection of model soldiers and scenery.

  But apparently he had a lot of problems with teenagers who were not accompanied by an adult. There were groups of younger wargamers, but also individual young lads who were dropped off for a week whilst their mum and dad went off on their own holiday.

It seems some of these younger visitors had done considerable damage to figures and scenery and had even stolen some of his iconic personality figures. The end result was that he had lost a lot of his enthusiasm for the centre.

It may have been that he was just in one of those moods when he was speaking to Jan. I hope so, because it would be a great shame if he became disillusioned with what he had created.

We never did return to the Wargames Holiday Centre.
  But the short time we spent there would have a great influence on our own wargaming. I was determined to wargame “In The Grand Manner”. We did not have the space, nor the figures, that so impressed at Scarborough. But we did have a free standing garage which I converted into a wargames room.
  There was space for a 12x6 foot table and sufficient shelving to display my collection of model soldiers and scenery. It was a poor “second cousin” to the Wargames Holiday Centre. But it became the home of our Salisbury Old Guard which would run for twenty years. I provided the figures and scenery and set a game up once a week. We had a changing membership of 4 to 8 players and only closed its doors when we retired and moved to Spain.

I have very fond memories of meeting Peter Guilder, a true legend of wargaming.

 I would like to thank Paul, for taking the time to provide his account of the early days of the Wargames Holiday Centre, without people like Paul this site would not be able to grow. So thanks again Paul for the trouble you took to provide this invaluable information.