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Wednesday, 18 August 2010

The wargaming Capital of Britain?



Its quite strange that Newark seems to be the epicentre of wargaming talent in England,if not in Great Britain. I suppose with the main sculpters for Games Workshop being based in the area it was inevitable that other talent would move there.

Yet looking back to the early 70's as one does in doddering decripitude [nearly], the wargaming movement was scattered to the four winds,with two exceptions,Southampton and London. Obviously Donald Featherstone living in Southampton with Tony Bath on hand made that an important enclave,whilst London seemed to have a really active wargames club scene. Anyway what about County Durham. Well I remember the hefty talents of Derek Sharman. I met Derek initially when he was selling wargames figures from a small shop in Durham City,and then went on to fight with him on a couple of occasions in Bishop Auckland. I was particulary impressed with his very large Persian army, with Garrison Cataphracti and Eithiopian archers. I remember we used the rules Derek had written. They were pretty good for the time,but I wouldnt say he was the best wargamer Ive faced.The other time I gamed with him,he insisted on moving the Garde horse artillery close to the British line,and then managing to lose the whole battery through rifle fire,not the best move Ive seen in wargaming. Still I would describe Derek as more of an ideas man.

Derek was also the driving force behind some really big shows, and I mean several thousand strong at Durham Castle and Lumley castle. These were great venues,with lots of noisy re enactments going on outside the shows.

Derek also opened the first wargames shop that I ever knew, the Wargamers Den. I think even he would accept that whilst he was very enthusiastic,his business accumen was a bit chaotic. Sadly the shop shut,and Derek I believe moved north to the borders. Which just goes to show,if Derek had stuck in maybe the North East could have been the centre of wargaming in Britain,and I wouldnt have to trek south to see some top shows. A big word, IF.

3 comments:

  1. Yes, Derrick introduced me to the Durham Club in January 1972 when it met at his parents house and took the place over every Thursday. Still a few people around from that era, e.g. Rod Milburn, Shaun Lowery, Paul Stevenson and Jeff Awdas. Whatever happended to Dave Jackson and the Ledger brothers I wonder? I remember my first night there playing Waterloo and also the airfix plastic conversions - whole armies of France Prussian war and even ECW (if I remember the pikes had a 'range' of 2" in the rules!). I think Derrick is in Berwick now btw.

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  2. Moving up from Mancheter in 1974- where we had a thriving club with John Leigh and Dave Hulland- Dave is still active and now lives in Northumberland- I met Derek then and went to several of his shows. Later we became friends and I gamed with him several times- everyone a winner I think dropped countless pounds in his shop was one of the noisy re-enactors on more than one occasion. and was saddened when the shop closed- largely due to a massive increase in shop rent.
    Was playing at the Durham club by the mid 80s and knew many of thestill surviving names- Rahul Sarnaik is now a BBC journo Jeff Awdas games with the Tantobie Warfare And Tactical Society along with me.
    Derek now seems to be involved in local politics in Berwick .
    But all this twaddle about Newark and Nottinghan being the centre of the Wargaming world- my vote would always be for county Durham...
    Andy

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  3. Love the Jackdaw figures. How do they compare to RSM or Front Rank? Thanks...

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My 6mm Napoleonic set up.

My 6mm Napoleonic set up.
Austria 1809.

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