Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Wargaming: Down Memory Lane

The recent death of Donald Featherstone made me think of happy days back in South London beginning to collect wargames figures. It was not easy. No internet of course and, back then, no professional hobby publications. 

My very first figure was a painted lead soldier my father bought for me about 1965 from Gamages Department Store  in London, probably a Minifig, British, Waterloo-era infantryman. The only place to start were the few names and addresses contained in Don's early books, together with those of authors Peter Young and Charles Grant. My handwritten note to an unknown address with a stamped, self-addressed envelope was the only way to get a cheaply printed listing or even just a carbon-copy list from the manufacturer.

I started to order a few items and with great pleasure would open the small, sturdy, brown cardboard boxes filled with sawdust from Neville Dickenson in Southampton containing the precious few metal figures I could afford with my pocket money.

Then, as I became a young teenager, I would set off on adventures by British Rail and London Transport buses to actually visit the fabulous lairs of Marcus Hinton in Camden Passage and Rose Miniatures, closer by, in Charlton. I even once managed to persuade my family to drive from a vacation bungalow in Bournemouth, where we were spending a summer holiday, to Southampton so I could actually meet Mr Dickenson. My most daring adventure, a drive on my Honda 50 all the way across London to Northolt Road, South Harrow to investigate Bill Pearce's shop selling his Garrison Miniatures (closed in 1971).

Here are some precious memories of my collecting days in the early 1960's.

Marcus Hinton outside his amazing store in Camden Passage

Miniature Figurines Store, Southampton

Neville Dickenson

Rose 1965 Catalogue

I can still remember those early lead soldiers and the great men who designed, manufactured and sold them.

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