In September 1971 under another name (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
A 1/300th scale SF game by the Warlords as Salute
In 1985 the two branches, after some tempestuous wrangling, split into two individual
clubs and so the South London Warlords became concentrated again at one branch
In 1995 the Dulwich branch moved again to larger premises –
St. Barnabas Church Hall a bigger hall in Dulwich –
which is the Club’s current home.
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
1979 saw another change of venue with the show moving to Kensington & Chelsea
Town Hall – Salute’s venue for the next 20 years. In that period the Warlords
also ran several late, post summer season conventions at the same Margate Wintergardens
venue that had been tried with Salute ’77 (the last "Margate" being
in 1982), but Salute itself stayed at Kensington and, over the years, gradually
hired more and more of the facilities. 1979 saw just the Ground Floor and Lower
Hall in use, but the Upper Hall was subsequently hired. By ’85 the New Wing was
added and after that more rooms off of this area. Even in its last year at the
Kensington venue, new space had been found but, increasingly, the hall’s facilities
were becoming ever more ‘warren’ like, covering three floors in two connected
buildings and so, after Salute ’98, plans were put in place to hire a different
Seige of Valencia by the Warlords at Salute
On April 1st 2000, Salute opened at Olympia
2 in London. The entire second floor was hired in this prestigious venue.
The show was a great success with a much needed, larger gaming and trading space
and a more open feel but had some teething problems with public access. One of
the great advantages of the current Salute venue is the room for expansion which
is virtually unlimited and for Salute 2001 two floors were hired. This increased
to three floors for Salute Zero Two and by Salute Zero Five this had increased
to all four floors of Olympia 2: the quest was on for an alternative venue. Salute
Zero Six, Seven and Eight were held at the ExCel centre in London's Docklands.
A bigger Lord of the Rings seige by the Warlords
at Salute 85
Such is the reputaion of Salute that many of the best games from clubs around
the country are attracted to it.
seige by the Warlords at Salute
80, and SELWG's Zeppelin game at Salute 90
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". Later on - as roleplaying bcame more prevelant
- the name was changed to "South
London Warlords Wargaming, Roleplaying and Military Modelling Club"
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: The South London Warlords Wargaming, Role-playing and Military
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.
Lazertag in the early '90s...
The Warlords regularly attends other club's shows around the country and has,
for many years, gained a reputation for putting on quality games for a (largely)
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,
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 Tripples in 1992 (Warlords member Alan
The Warlords is now half way through it’s
fourth decade of existance 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.
Dressing up for Lazer Tag - 1987 (Warlords
members Kevin Dallimore, John Treadaway, Alan Marques, Mick Penver)
Based on earlier histories of the Warlords by (amongst others) Steve Gaines, Richard
Burgin and Brian Cameron