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Sunday, 10 March 2013

Derek Sharman, a forgotten wargame inovator

Following on from Andy's post on his blog regarding who or what caused him to take up wargaming, he mentioned a worthy who greatly helped John and I when we were struggling with wargaming.
 Derek Sharman was a gentleman who initially worked in a pet shop  [I think ] in Durham City, that as an aside sold the odd wargames figure!
 This was the late 1960's early 1970's which was how things were then. I also knew of another pet shop that also sold wargames figures in Bishop Auckland. Strange that pet shops cornered the wargaming market in my area, it was a bugger going in to buy a goldfish and coming out with some Mini Fig cavalry.
 Anyway Derek looked after the wargamers who started to hang out at the shop, and when wargaming started to take off, the pet shop owner took retirement and the Wargamers Den was born.
 As a teenager, going to Derek's shop was a thing to really look forward to, there always seemed to be something going on in the shop, either some painted figures or a game, or just other wargamers all looking for advice and ideas.
 It all seemed so new and interesting.
  What I remember of Derek Sharman was that he was really enthusiastic, he certainly seemed knowledgeable but he didnt seem that well organised. I also think Derek was better as a wargame innovator than as a businessman.
 Saying that he did organise some really good wargames shows, that seemed to draw in the public. He also had an eye for locating the shows in really atmospheric locations, like Durham Castle, Lumley Castle and the Castle Green. Also being heavily involved in the 68th society, he always managed to have a fine turn out from the re enactment societies.
 My favourite being when he got the Imperiale Guard band with David Chandler dressed up in his finery at Lumley Castle Napoleonic fair.
 I only wargamed with him twice, both times at Bishop Auckland. One where his Persian army was minced by a massive Greek army, full of Spartan hopolites, +2 for bell corselet!
 The second when Derek took it upon himself to physically charge the French Guard horse artillery up to close range of the British Guard, +2 for British musket fire! The result was carnage.
  It always struck me as strange that my regular wargaming opponent then, seemed to get +2 for every unit he had! Still I was just learning the game then.
 Like I say Derek was more an ideas person than a general and businessman.

 The one thing he was however,was very kind, and apart from allowing me to buy George Gush's Renaissance Armies book on HP, he also gave me a set of his ancient rules, and discounted a lot of Garrison ancient Persian figures when I was struggling to pay for them.
I'm hoping other wargamers who came across Derek can fill in some of the gaps,because to be fair, he did an awful lot for wargaming in Durham County and deserves a bit of recognition, even if it is only in this blog.
I understand that Derek lives near Berwick and is heavily involved as a tourist guide.

5 comments:

  1. I remember the shop on Claypath where Derek worked. I was 12 and had just moved to Durham (Xmas 1972). I was invited to go along to the Durham wargames group the following Thursday at his parents' house. They were in the middle fighting Waterloo, and as luck would have it I had some mini figs household cavalry and some garrison rifles with me who were quickly added to the game. I was invited to join but a new rule was introduced that no new members could join unless they were older than me (13 at the time). When Derek set up his wargames shop the club relocated (can't remember why) there until we had the chance to move to the present location.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Evening Colin,
      Ive located a short letter that Derek sent to Wargamers Newsletter in 1968, where he mentions the club in Durham. It would be interesting if someone had photographs from that period. Especially the fashions, never mind the figures.

      Delete
    2. Evening Rob. There are still a couple of regular DWG members who were around in the early 1970s I.e. Shaun Lowery, Rod Milburn, and Paul Stevenson. As for fashions, Paul looks and dresses just the same!!!!!!!!

      Delete
  2. That weekend at Luumley was possibly one of the most alcholic ever... we did a battle at the DLI museum as well I led a motley band of "Spanish Geurilles" one of whom managed to blow a chunk out of his own bum!!
    After the ennt a number of the Imperial Guards plus Dave and Mary Reay and me ended up in a chines restaurant on Silver street. I have very little memeory of how I got home and only remember the Band master tellijg me in broken inebriated English to put my dammed money away .
    As for Derek he always seemed a bit well... harrassed. . My wife and late stepson also knew him well buth there is no doubt that he was something of a wargames luminary in the North East.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Evening Andy,
      I actually have a load of photographs of that band, and the band master. They were very impressive. I always thought they sounded about right, very French and very tinny.
      It was a great show though.

      Delete

My 6mm Napoleonic set up.

My 6mm Napoleonic set up.
Austria 1809.

Austrian Hussars

Austrian Hussars
Hinchliffe figures

Austrian Grenzer

Austrian Grenzer
Austrian Grenzer

Smoggycon 2013

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Smoogycon 2009

Smoogycon 2009
My French getting another beating