Club Spotlight: South London Warlords
How long has the club been running and why was it set up?
It’s been in existence since 1971 as The South Bermondsey Military Modelling Society and was started by three wargamers including 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.
How many members do you have and what sort of people come to the club?
For the last few decades we have averaged around 80 to 100 club members, around half of whom turn up for our regular Monday night meetings. We are mostly male, mostly old enough to drive and mostly figure gamers and painters from all periods and interests.
What games do you tend to play and has that changed over the years?
Bearing in mind how much the gaming industry has changed over the last four and a half decades, the Warlords have done the lot. Roleplaying, tabletop figure wargaming, board gaming, live roleplaying… everything. Period wise, again, historical and non-historical (and not just GW non-historical – lots of different fantasy and SF): all periods and styles and scales.
What’s the best thing about running a club?
The interaction and swapping of ideas: the support that other members can give and the chance to play with new people. And somewhere to store some scenery!
Any advice for someone thinking of starting up their own club?
Find a set of club rules in another organisation that you think are ok (I think we pinched ours from a cricket club many years ago) and then modify and adopt them. You may think that you don’t need rules but my take on this is that the natural size of a group or club is about 10 to 12 people: about the size of a football team or a jury. All you need is a ‘captain’ and ‘ten commandments’ (i.e. some basic rules: “pay this; do that; don’t do this”) and you’re covered.
But clubs can grow! Anything bigger than that – say 20 people – will automatically split into (at least) two groups and you’ll need some more rules to stop infighting. I know it sounds painful but that’s just my experience. I’ve been at the Warlords for almost four decades, so make of that what you will.