Sunday, 12 June 2011

I have been to ... Broadside 2011

More than thirty years ago I taught I young man who had an interest in wargaming. This shared interest developed into a friendship that has survived the test of time, and which is one of the good things that resulted from my long career as an educator.

The young man's name is Alan Abbey ... and he is now one of the leading lights behind the Milton Hundred Wargames Club. Today the club organised its first wargames show - Broadside 2011 - and I had the privilege of being able to attend it.

This was a relatively small show, but I think that it has the potential to become a fixture on the round of wargames shows that take place every year in the UK. Once you find the location (I had problems as my SatNav decided to do an automatic upgrade two miles short of the venue ... and I got lost!) and get parked, it was easy to find one's way into the Swallow Leisure Centre in Sittingbourne, Kent. The entrance fee was just £3.00 (and non-wargaming partners and children under sixteen were allowed in free ... a good marketing ploy), which is quite cheap for such an event.

The entrance was a bit hot and steamy, but once inside the two halls being used for the show, the temperature cooled down to a comfortable level. The signage inside was easy to follow, as was the guide that was given out with the event badge and wristband one was given as one entered.

The event was well supported by sponsors (Pen and Sword Books), traders, and local wargames clubs, and I could have spent a lot of money had I had it; in fact, I found more potential purchases at this show than I have at some of the larger ones over the past few years.

The traders included:
  • Pen and Sword Books
  • Second City Games
  • Conquest Games
  • Harfields Military Figures
  • Brigade Models
  • Frontline Wargaming
  • IT Miniatures
  • Shellhole Scenics
  • Alchemy Miniatures
  • Lesleys Bits Box
  • Redoubt Miniatures
  • Tumbling Dice
  • Realistic Modelling Services
  • Dark Heart
  • Andy's Models
  • Red Knight Wargames
  • Tole Haven UK
  • Of Dice and Men
  • Products for Wargamers
  • David Lanchester Books
  • Steve Weston's Toy Soldiers
  • Taylor and Smith Ltd.
  • The Plastic Soldier Company
  • Gringo 40's
  • Armourfast Military Models
  • JJ's Second Hand Books and Kits
  • Crooked Dice
  • KO'ed Dice Bags
  • AAA Models
  • The Last Valley
  • B.E.F. Miniatures
  • Q.R.F. Models
  • Monarch Military Books
The wargames groups that were represented included:
  • The A20 gamers: Warhammer 40,000 battle
  • Tunbridge Wells Wargames Society: Flames of War desert battle
  • Maidstone Wargames Society: Interactive World War 2 game
  • H&B Gaming: 'Space Wars' participation game
  • STaB, Bournemouth: 'Space Vixens from Mars!' game
  • Realistic Modelling Services: Franco-Prussian battle
  • Second City Games: 28mm Sci-fi game
  • Rainham Wargames Club: Western Gunfight
  • Friday Night Fire Fight Club: Suez crisis game
  • Hornchurch Heroes: Flames of War battle
  • Of Dice and Men: Dystopia Wars
  • Medway Wargames Society: Victorian Dinosaur hunt
  • Whitstable and Herne Bay Wargamers: World War 1 battle
  • SEEMS: Napoleonic Naval battle
  • Shepway Wargames Club: North West Frontier battle
  • British Model Soldier Society
  • Twydal Wargames Club
Note: I did take a lot more photographs but the light quality in one of the halls meant that the pictures were all but unusable.

I did make one purchase. It was a book that David Crook pointed out to me - THE ROYAL NAVY & THE PERUVIAN-CHILEAN WAR 1879-1881: RUDOLPH DE LISLE'S DIARIES & WATERCOLOURS edited by Gerard de Lisle (Pen and Sword Maritime [2008] ISBN 978 1 84415 652 8).

This book ticks so many boxes that it was irresistible. Not only is its subject one that has been of great interest to me of late, it also contains reproductions of some unique watercolour paintings of the ships involved in the war and the coastal areas in which they operated. Furthermore, Rudolph de Lisle served with the Naval Brigade during the Gordon Relief Expedition. He was killed at the Battle of Abu Klea when the Gardner Gun under his command jammed and its position was overrun by the Mahdist troops.

I enjoyed my visit to Broadside 2011. It was a cracking good little wargames show ... and I am already looking forward to going to Broadside 2012!


  1. That looks like your perfect book Bob.

  2. Hi Bob,

    It was a great little show and I hope that it becomes a regular feature on the calender.

    I must confess I didn't look at that book in much detail - I only got as far as looking at the pictures! - but from an interest point of view covering some more Colonial stuff means it must surely rank as a bargain!

    All the best,


  3. Conrad Kinch,

    Exotic location, Colourful uniforms, rifled firearms, steam locomotives, coastal fortifications, and ironclads ... what is there NOT to like?

    All the best,


  4. David Crook,

    I will certainly go to Broadside again next year if it is on.

    I would have bought the book just for the pictures ... but the text is almost as inspiring, as is de Lisle's own life story. He was yet another example of a typical Victorian Officer and a Gentleman ... the sort of man who acquired and then ruled the British Empire, and were happy to lay down their lives protecting it.

    All the best,


  5. I rather like small shows.

    I'll make a note to walk the other way if I see a copy of the book at one the stalls at Historicon. I've got too many holes in my head already to risk a new interest.

  6. Ross Mac,

    Small shows give you time to have a proper look around and to talk to old friends and traders.

    The book is excellent, and would be worth reading ... even at the risk of it giving you another period to think about wargaming!

    All the best,


    PS. The original price of the book was £30.00; I bought mine for £13.00! A bargain, in my opinion.

  7. i think a lot of the war game set up at shjows need to be improved
    i remember some where there was no way you'd guess it was a war game

  8. Fixed Bayonet Metal Soldiers,

    I think that the quality of wargames put on at shows is variable ... but in most cases they are better now than they were a few years ago. At least some of the clubs putting on games actually talk to the general public now ... and that is a major improvement over the situation that used to pertain.

    All the best,


  9. yeah true as you must know better than me. im into 54mm wargaming and the commercial figures i produce are basically for 54mm wargaming, i think maybe that really small soldiers are just too small. i recently bought a whole collection of painted wargaming figures in 25mm that came out weekly in italian newspaper stands .i have about 500 and it took ages to get to the end of buying them as they came out two pieces every week.i'm quite interested in the figures for the italian wars, theres a few italian companies doing them plus one who does them in plastic.

  10. Fixed Bayonet Metal Soldiers,

    Some of the most impressive wargames I have seen at shows were the 54mm-scale ones by the Skirmish Wargame Group ... and they always take great pains to make sure that anyone who stops and watches is spoken to by one of the members of the group.

    I also collected a whole load of 25/28mm figures that were sold with a magazine. The magazine was published by 'Del Prado' and the figures were for the Battle of Waterloo. I have stored them and hope to use them one day ... but probably not for the Battle of Waterloo.

    I am not particularly knowledgeable about the Italian Wars before the War of Unification, but I can understand the fascination that they must have as they combine so many aspects of what interests me: colourful uniforms, interesting characters, and lots of great stories.

    Good luck with your quest.

    All the best,



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