In September 1971 (under the name of The South Bermondsey Military Modelling Society), the South London Warlords was formed by three wargamers: Jim Shiels, Dave Rotor and the late Bill Brewer. Bill ran the Rye Stamp and Hobby shop in Peckham for many years and – until his death in 1998 – was a professional figure painter of some renown and was instrumental in raising the standard of painted wargames armies.
|A 15mm scale Napoleonics game by the Warlords as Salute 87|
The Club met in a small hall in Bermondsey in South London but in 1974 opened a second branch in Eltham. In 1975 the ‘Bermondsey’ branch moved its location to a more suitable hall in Dulwich where it stayed for almost twenty years.
|A 1/300th scale SF game by the Warlords as Salute 81|
In 1995 the Dulwich branch moved again to a bigger home in Dulwich at St. Barnabas Church Hall, where the club meets to this day.
|Alamo in 25mm by the late Robin Hunt (Warlords) at Salute 87|
In April 1972 the Club ran its first open day for the public. Called "Salute" it was held at the Surrey Tavern at the Oval Cricket ground. It was a great success and so next year bigger things were planned. ’73 saw a move to the central London Westminster Hotel and '74 The Regency Hotel. '75 took Salute to Chelsea Townhall where it stayed for the next two years. 1977 saw a change of tack with Salute being held at Margate on the south coast. While the venue worked well enough, it was thought that a London location was more appropriate for a London club and so ’78 saw Salute back at Chelsea Town Hall.
|Lord of the Rings seige by the Warlords at Salute 80|
|Seige of Valencia by the Warlords at Salute 80|
|A bigger Lord of the Rings seige by the Warlords at Salute 85|
|The Warlords at Salute Zero Four, Olympia|
|Building the show - Salute Zero Nine at ExCeL|
Periods and Interests
The Club’s original name was the South Bermonsey Military Modelling Society and, when the name was changed (rather rapidly) into something a little more dynamic, the opportunity was made to change the named emphasis to reflect the Club’s activities. So the Club became the "South London Warlords Wargaming and Military Modelling Club" more often referred to as the "South London Warlords" or just plain "The Warlords"..
Throughout its life the Club’s interests have waxed and waned and – inevitably – been driven to some extent by popular culture. Napoleonics were popular early on, particularly so because of the film Waterloo. Samurai armies were popular in the early eighties after the TV series Shogun. In the mid seventies, fantasy armies were popular based on The Lord of the Rings, but in the late seventies Dungeons & Dragons became the craze of the moment: role playing had arrived at the Warlords.
Early on there were problems because the themes of D&D and other roleplaying systems were quite ‘alien’ to the accepted, historical wargaming culture but there were also complaints amongst some of the older membership about these new games’ formats. Some of the role playing games used hardly any metal figures and that some of those that were used were not actually painted…
After a while, the world, it was noted, hadn’t stopped spinning on its axis, and roleplaying became an accepted part of the Club’s activities leading to it’s inclusion in the Club’s name in 1988: The South London Warlords Wargaming, Role-playing and Military Modelling Club.
In around ’87, some of the membership began experimenting with Live Role Playing. This initially involved the Club premises but rapidly outgrew the facilities and so – after some late night ‘activities’ on public ground – reputable venues were hired and games run external to the Club. Some of the membership running around the woods shooting ‘laser’ guns caused a degree of friction within the Club – was LRP ‘proper’ wargaming? – but, as of the current date, most of the current Club’s activities seem to coexist along side each other.
Dressing up for Lazer Tag - 1987 (Warlords members Kevin Dallimore, John Treadaway, Alan Marques, Mick Penver)
Where are we now?
The Club’s membership is a little smaller than it has been in recent years although in actuality, the highest numbers it ever attained were (not surprisingly) in the mid eighties when there were two branches. Not so much emphasis is currently placed upon LRP or Ancients Competition teams as had been the case in the past. Similarly, fantasy card games, like elsewhere, have ‘had their day’.
Many periods gamed currently are firm favourites that would have been in play on a Club night at any point for the last three decades: Napoleonics, Ancients and WW2. Others - Warhammer, Warhammer 40k and various other SF and Fantasy genres – have also survived the tests of time. Hopefully the quality of figure painting and modelling at the club has advanced over the years, as have the commercially available figures and scenery, but that aside, many games on a Monday night at the Warlords would have been recognisable thirty plus years ago – and vice versa.
|The Warlords take 1/300th scale Star Trek to the Sheffield Triples in 1992 (Warlords member Alan Marques)|
The Warlords is now nearing the end of its fourth decade of existence and - inevitably - only a very few of the original, first year members are still present. Like most Wargames clubs the Warlords struggles with an ageing membership who find playing with wargames figures (and owning them and painting them) difficult to justify to their careers, loved ones and bank managers. Running around the woods shooting infra-red toy guns also proved troublesome to the knees.
The Club, nevertheless, tries to excel in all areas - and lead in most - and is justifiably proud of its achievements since its early days in the seventies.
Members still meet weekly to game and, often, outside of Club hours on a social level. Furthermore, Salute has become - and maintains its position as – the premier show of its kind in the country.
Based on histories of the Warlords by (amongst others) Steve Gaines, Richard Burgin, Brian Cameron and John Treadaway.