Monday, 23 May 2016

Peter Wilcox Gilder.

 Well I am back from Partizan 2016, which was a thoroughly good experience for so many reasons.
 Anyway Phil Robinson was a mine of information as usual and I would like to sincerely thank him for all his efforts and encouragement.

The following information is purely down to Phil;

 Peter Wilcox Gilder [ although like Morse he never used his middle name if he could help it ]
 Born 12th October 1930 with his birth registered in Luton Bedfordshire.

 Gilder married Doreen Sexton in 1969 at Hull registry office, and had two children, Christopher and 
Joanne Gilder.The family moved to the United States of America in the 1990's after the early death of Peter Gilder.

Peter Gilder passed away in November 1990,of Motor Neuron disease.

So that is the basic outline of Peter Gilder's life, I will naturally expand on this over the next couple of posts thanks to Phil and members of the Hull wargames group. I intend to do a little piece on that group later, I think it is worthy of recording in its own right.

Below are more images from the 1974 book, The Art of Warfare on Land, by David Chandler. I have now obtained my own copy of this book which I had never heard of. The figures are from the original Peter Gilder collection, but I wouldnt like to attribute all the painting to the great man.
                                       Images from the Battle of Gettysburg

  Images from the ancient Battle of Daras, Peter Gilder was the Society of Ancients champion at one time.

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.

Monday, 16 May 2016

The Wargame, 1972

The Wargame, Cassell, 1972, was a coffee table book edited by Brigadier Peter Young, which contained various famous battles from history, illustrated by wonderful images taken by Philip O Stearn, an interesting character in his own right. The book contained accounts including Austerlitz, Waterloo [ inevitably] Gettysburg and El Alemein.  I used to often take this book from my local library and pore over the wonderful images contained in the book. Peter Gilder and Hinchliffe Models provided the terrain for the book, and of course some of the initial Peter Gilder collection was used to illustrate various chapters. I am sorry for the standard of the scans, but I am not as adept at copying the Gilder figures. This book is still available via E Bay and Amazon. 

Sunday, 15 May 2016

The Art of Warfare on Land 1974.

The 1970's were something of a Golden period for the release of wargame books, naturally some were better than others. I honestly thought I knew all the wargame orientated books released in that decade, but a follower of this blog, pointed out one such release that I hadn't read or owned.
  David Chandler, another great wargame exponent had edited a book entitled The Art of Warfare on Land, Hamlyn 1974, which contained an account of the Battle of Waterloo [ inevitably ] which showed images of Peter Gilder's terrain and figures.  
 I would like to thank ' Charles' [unfortunately I dont have a surname ] for his scans of the Waterloo chapter of the book.
 Naturally I have now ordered this book, which I will then sadly drool over the images that are contained inside.


Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Hinchliffe Models.

Peter Gilder became an integral part of Hinchliffe Models, enabling the small company owned by Frank Hinchliffe that had originally made and sold wonderful engineering/artillery models, into a company that in the late 1960's until the mid 1980's arguably dominated the British Wargame scene. I know Mini Figs were as equally popular, but if a wargamer had a choice and the cash, they invariably opted to buy Hinchliffe figures. Peter Gilder sculpted figures at an alarming rate, and every year seemed to release a new period. 

 Most wargamers of a certain age have their favourite Hinchliffe figure, initially mine were the Napoleonic Garde Chasseur a Cheval and Mameluke of the Grade, but when Peter Gilder sculpted the wonderful Rupert's Charge and Peninsular Range these became my must have figures. That of course was superseded by his wonderful and characterful Polish Winged Lancer, which today, over 30 years later is still one of my favourites.
 In 1977, Hinchliffe published their Guide to Wargaming which everything a new wargamer would need to start the hobby, including some simple rules, for the Napoleonic period and a simple set by John Sharples enabling wargamers to fight in the medieval period.

 Peter Gilder had a knack of being able to court publicity using the medium of television, and using his wonderful sculptured terrain and beautifully painted figures why wouldn't the media be interested.I hope to add some additional detail to Peter Gilders work at Hinchliffe Models.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Callan and Peter Gilder 1970 and 1974.

Callan,the 1974 film, where the wonderful terrain and figures of Peter Gilder figured. When I went to the cinema to see this film, all I ever wanted was to possess the room and the figures that I saw on the screen. Even in 2016 I don't think the set up has been bettered, copied yes, but never excelled. Wonderful stuff. 
For those readers born in a much later time, Callan was probably the first television anti hero, following on from Jack Carter in Get Carter and I suppose James Bond to a lesser extent. He was what appeared to be a loser, used by his superiors, an anti establishment loose cannon, with a bent? for collecting and playing with toy soldiers. 
 It all kicked off with a a pilot called;   
  Callan, A Magnum or Schneider; Feb.1967;
In February 1967 ‘Armchair Theatre’ aired one such pilot under the title ‘A Magnum for Schneider’. It was written by James Mitchell, the author of a number of potboiler spy and crime novels, who would go on to have his greatest success with a nostalgic and romantic TV series called When the Boat Comes In about life in Tyneside during the 20s and 30s. But it was his spy fiction background he put into ‘A Magnum for Schneider’. Its central character was a professional assassin who had just resigned from a shadowy department of British intelligence, but who was just too good at his job for them to let him go. 
 In this pilot Callan accidently befriends his target by bumping into him, literally, and knocking a box of toy soldiers out of his hand, from their he is able to get inside his flat to be shown a table full of  Napoleonic figures [make unknown unfortunately]

 You can see how different the television producers portrayed viewed wargaming in 1967, this was  to change in the later series, and of course in the great film.. 

  Plot for the film; Callan; 

 David Callan (Edward Woodward), a leading intelligence agent/assassin in the employment of S.I.S., was forced into retirement due to him losing his nerve. Now, Callan is called back into service to handle the assassination of Schneider, a German businessman. Colonel Hunter (Eric Porter), his former employer promises Callan that he'll be resumed to active status as long as he follows his orders. But as ever, Callan refuses to act until he knows exactly why Schneider has been marked for death...

In the film, Callan gets to play two games, The Battle of Talavera and the Battle of Gettysburg. The whole wargames set up was far superior that what many wargamers had ever seen, and boy did it cause some envy, well it did for me. I will try and find out how Peter Gilder obtained a job creating the games for the film, it should prove very interesting, I hope.


Below are some stills of figures used in the television episode of Callan, titled an Act of Kindness, from 1970.Away from the Section, David Callan has one major interest – model soldiers and fighting war-games with them.  Given that his job involves killing (and usually it’s the dirtiest and most squalid kind) it’s therefore worth wondering if his love of re-creating famous battles from history is a yearning for the past when war might be seen as a more honest, chivalrous pursuit.
 Act of Kindness sees Callan tackle an opponent across the tabletop field of battle and it provides us with a very interesting clash of personalities.  Heathcote Land (Anthony Nicholls) isn’t a spy or an enemy agent – he works for a company that exports tractors worldwide.
Again beautiful Peter Gilder painted figures on a basic terrain;

Callan, A Magnum or Schneider; Feb.1967;
In February 1967 ‘Armchair Theatre’ aired one such pilot under the title ‘A Magnum for Schneider’. It was written by James Mitchell, the author of a number of potboiler spy and crime novels, who would go on to have his greatest success with a nostalgic and romantic TV series called When the Boat Comes In about life in Tyneside during the 20s and 30s. But it was his spy fiction background he put into ‘A Magnum for Schneider’. Its central character was a professional assassin who had just resigned from a shadowy department of British intelligence, but who was just too good at his job for them to let him go.