Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The End of an Era

Each year for nearly thirty years now I've been fortunate enough to spend at least a week at the Wargames Holiday centre in Scarborough.  For my first few visits the place was run by Peter Guilder a charming and humorous man who's decision to start a centre for wargamers has had a huge bearing on my enjoyment of the hobby.  The centre was then taken over by Mike Ingham who probably like me had fallen in love with the place as a customer.  A few years later Mike was joined by Gerry Elliot, and for the past seventeen years the two of them have put on countless games for the paying public to enjoy.  Sadly due to Mike suffering from ill health the centre will close its doors for the last time later this year and though there are a few rumours of other interested parties taking up the mantle no one has yet come forward publicly.   

The British led by Moore and Wellesley begin their assault on the thinly held French line.

I've just returned from another week of playing an excellent Peninsular campaign with a group of friends each and everyone of whom I have met through playing at the centre over the years.  In truth it does seem sad that without the centre to act as a focal point anymore, at least some of those friendships will fade.
     As well as being a focal point the centre has acted as an inspiration to myself, and I'm sure many others and my own gaming set up is completely based upon it.  During my time in the armed forces it would have been impossible to accumulate and store even a modest 28mm army and the chances of finding opponents were even more remote.  So each year I'd head up to NorthYorkshire for my annual fix of gaming, returning with unfulfilled plans of doing the whole thing in 6mm or 15mm. 
     Oddly enough I've often considered that I was in many ways "spoiled" by my visits to the centre.  Having seen and participated in games on such a scale, with thousands of 28mm figures laid out amongst superb scenery I found it difficult to adapt to club level games which had to played out in an evening and with comparatively small forces.

British and KGL cavalry await their chance to get into the action.

That isn't me taking a pot shot at wargaming clubs by the way, it's just a portrayal of how wargaming can be if people have the time space and money to do it.  Unfortunately for most of us at least one if not all three of those commodities are in short supply. 
     The title of this entry is "The End of an Era", I did think about putting a question mark at the end but the truth is that regardless of what happens in the future an era is definitely ending.  There will be no more driving to Folkton each morning, no more smell from the pig farm down the road, no more nights out in Scarborough or long journeys home to Plymouth at the end of another week.  However when one era ends another begins so with a bit of luck some brave soul will throw his hat into the ring and perhaps in the future I'll be entitling a blog entry "The Start of a new Era", I for one sincerely hope so.

The British flank attack by Fane and Paget begins to roll up the crumbling French right.

Well so much for pathos, (not the musketeer).  I feel I should mention that our battle at Gotha is reaching it's conclusion with only three turns before nightfall forces a halt to hostilities.  The Allies are poised to breakthrough at two key points and if succesful the French will have to decide whether they should regroup and fight on for another day or withdraw.

A "library" picture from a game at the WHC now forgotten but one which I couldn't resist.

So we meet once more on wednesday evening where the fate of Dom's French troops will be decided.  A report and more pictures to follow.


Tony said...

I visited The Wargames Holiday Centre over fifteen years ago (maybe twenty) and fought Boridino with 'In The Grand Manner' Rules (my first time with these rules). It was a Friday, Saturday and Sunday affair and somewhere hidden in all the detritus are some old 35mm photo prints of the event.

I am sorry to say that I have never re-visited, but retain very fond memories of the weekend.


Tony said...
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Stryker said...

Hi Noel - I've never visited the WHC although I always fancied the idea and now I wish I'd made the effort. However your own setup is a great ispiration and I know I'm not the only one who feels that way. It's a kind of virtual WHC for those of us in blogger land but without the long drives and nights out in Scarborough (not that I've anything against Scarborough!). Keep up the good work!


Chris Cornwell said...

My own sentiments entirely, Noel...I think the thoughts you have expressed here are pretty much the same for all the regular and less regular) visitors to the WHC.
I also have a similar feeling sometimes on being "spoiled". After playing so many fabulous (and enormous) games in Scarboro a 2 hour game on an 8'x4' just won't cut it. Its a difficult concept to get across to someone who hasn't necessarily experienced it themselves

BFG said...
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BFG said...

I like you Noel have enjoyed many years at the Wargames Holiday Centre. Those that never experienced the enormous games really do not know what they have missed!
Keep up the good work, the photo's are really cool and the write-ups...as usual....are excellent.

Ged Elliott said...

But things go on. If anything, the games in the "Situation Room" will now be bigger as there is no need for a set format for time resulting in many options of what to do and how to do it.

Granted, your a bit stuffed if you don't like 10mm!

VolleyFireWargames said...

I've never visited the WHC either I posted Noels brief salute on Grand Manner yahoo group, I know my English friend will be sad to here its closed, Yes indeed living in Atlanta Georgia - I am well aware of the phenom of "closet" wargamers clubs or as we call them here "basement gamers" I am sure WHC was unique in that it catered primarily to Napoleonic wargamers.
Perhaps you should petition for a "historical" marker to be placed near the old WHC if it does in fact close. So generations of wargamers can be directed to a spot where once a little bit of wargamer heaven existed.

To much games workshop and other hobby type games and finally the internet have diluted the available historical wargamer market.

I salute the efforts of those involved in WHC. Perhaps some bigger and better will emerge from this, although I don't think shrinking to 10mm is the answer.
Granted not sure how I am stuffed if I don't like 10mm. Perhaps The siruation room should have just been built bigger? To accommodate the bigger scale.

Anonymous said...

Had a lot of fun there over the years-I will never forget losing Gettysburg to a massed charge on the Sunday by Jeb Stuart's cavalry!


Michael said...

I am an old school wargamer, 25mm ancients, Naploeonic circa 1975-81. I have been inspired by your blog and want to know if there are any like minded Napoleonic gamers in the Toronto area? I do not have any figurines anymore, but would gladly remedy that if I was required to.

Michael D