Thursday, 19 February 2015

A nostalgic view - Austerlitz at The Wargames Holiday Centre in Scarborough

Action at the WHC - Russians advance against French screens

I was looking over some old photographs (remember them?) from a trip to "Blighty" many years ago when I booked in a weekend at the famous, dare I say it, legendary WHC up north in Yorkshire.

The game on that weekend was my all time favourite -  Austerlitz 1805.  The glory of France in its infancy in the First Empire against the Kaiserlicks and Russian lapdogs on the plains made famous by such names as "The Santon", "The Pratzen Heights" and Telnitz and the Satchsan.

I had the time of my life.

The chance to push around so many wonderfully painted, converted and crafted Connoisseur figures with a fair spattering of Elite Miniatures as well was a thrill beyond belief.

Set up the night before as Herbert views the Orders of battle and tiles are placed upon the field. 
Excuse the big white gaps but these are scans of photographs and resizing them is well beyond
my Luddite skills! 

Massed troops prepare to come to grips "Crouch, pause, engage!"

Great view of French cavalry, Carabiners slightly out of correct attire for the period, but
when they all look so gorgeous, everything is forgiven!!

The thrill of playing with troops that you had originally seen inside wargaming
magazines and on the covers as a teenager was almost surreal.

Those damned French prepare to cross the stream whilst the massed
guns of the French Imperial Guard look menacingly across the field.

My command advances to meet and defeat the enemy.  If my recollections are correct I
had a reasonable battle, winning my particular encounters along my lines of responsibility. 

How impressive is this?  Massed Connoisseur Russian Cavalry supported by Austrians.
I am sure every one is a lovely Connoisseur figure.

The action heats up.
The photographs below have a particular fondness for me.  
Friend Gerry Elliot who has been a tremendous wargaming confidante and proof reader during my Sands of Sudan rule writing.  Very good bloke who I always think of fondly.  
Of course the late and wonderful Mike Ingham, longtime owner of the WHC and game designer and host extraordinaire!  
One can also see that Beau Sauveur Chris Cornwall who drove me to London on the Sunday night. What a gentlemen.  
John Bramley on the left also a lovely chap who was kind enough to send me several concerned emails not long after my return when he read about the famous bushfire's ravaging New South Wales at the time.

If anyone recognises a younger version of themselves in this photo please let me know.


  1. Great photos thanks Carlo.

    Gave me my own version of nostalgia - while I didn't play napoleonics there - I did play a huge Arnhem game in the mid 90s. Wonderful weekend of gaming, food and drinks at the pub.

    1. Cheers Richard. Love your blogs by the way. Yes the pub was great fun, I enjoyed the hotel where we all stayed as well and the walk around Scarbourough was fascinating. In its hey day it would have been spectacular. The game was so much fun and despite the distance to get there (long way from Perth, WesternAustralia) if remains a wargaming memory at the very top of the spectrum!!

  2. Wonderful to see these. Been to Scarborough a few times, but never to the WHC. I can see I missed out, more's the pity.

    1. Thanks Mark - you should pop over and see all the originals as there are about fifty more photographs. You missed out on a real treat!

  3. Looks like great fun, Carlo! I'm surprised how similar the building was to the current WHC. I even recognise some of the terrain boards!

    Best, Simon

    1. Thanks Simon. I believe the terrain boards that Mark has now in Basingstoke are the very same ones from the old WHC. I am looking forwards to getting there again in the next year or so.

  4. The terrain boards must be the same; they look about 100 years old! :-)

  5. Great photos of a legendary operation!

    1. Thanks Peter - the thrill of playing there still lingers with me after all these years.

  6. Amazing photos Carlo. I remember being at the WHC when I was making an audio visual programme about the battle of Worcester (ECW). This was way back in 1986-7. Peter Gilder set up the entire battlefield for me with all the figures for photography purposes for the programme. It was amazing! So seeing these images reminds me of the whole experience. Quite a spectacle. Excellent memories! Thanks for sharing these photos carlo. ( I am working with chris gregg whom you know from AMG forum on our crazy 1:3 ratio la haye sainte and hougoumont project) All the best kevin East

    1. Thanks Kevin. I must tell you that yours and Chris' work on the 1:3 ratio napoleonics is fascinating. Such spectacular shots if simply stunning figures. Is your programme on The Battle of Worcester available to be viewed on the modern fabric we call social media anywhere?

  7. What an experience to lock away in the brain cells Carlo. Count me as truly envious.

    I imagine that playing in such games would double as a gym session with lifting all that lead while leaning over such generous acreage of tables! 8O)

    von Peter himself

    1. Thanks Peter - it truly was a great experience and one which I was and am so pleased to have been able to enjoy first hand.