Monday, 5 October 2009

Interlude: Public outdoor wargaming tables in London?

A recent weekend spent indulging my significant other's hobby of photography, saw the SteelonSand caravan traipsing the highways and byways of our great Capital, and brought yours truly into contact with some intriguing bits of 'Public Art'.

These art works brought to mind the often plaintive requests for information you hear on the Message Boards at TMP and elsewhere, from visitors to London who are looking for something gaming-related to visit, particularly shop-based. Whilst of course there are excellent military museums and historical artefacts, there is sadly little left in the way of wargaming emporiums in the centre of town. So if you find yourself in either of the two following locations, have a look at these curiosities, which should at least set your imagination running wild, if not giving you a practical solution to a wargaming-free trip!

First up in Bishop's Square next to Spitalfields in the East of the City of London (Near Liverpool Street Station), lurking amidst the glass and steel of the commercial district, is what I can only describe as a wargamer's wet dream, if said wargamer had a mind to construct an outdoor table upon which to game 6mm English Civil War, that is....

With each square measuring approximately 40cm per side, you have 2.4 metres by 2 metres worth of scale model depicting the Civil War fortifications around the city of London circa 1642, shining a spotlight on an oft forgotten part of this period, when the Parliamentarians rebuffed the King at Turnham Green, only to continue in genuine fear of a further attempt at attacking the capital, and therefore enlisted the good gentlefolk of the town in constructing miles of Bulwarks, Hornworks, Batteries and Bastions to defend the city. All long gone now under the urban sprawl of course, although a few street names survive to commemorate them, Mount Street in Mayfair, for instance, calling to mind 'Oliver's Mount(ain)', the large earthwork bastion that once guarded the Western approaches there.

The first photo at the head of this post depicts an overview from the West, looking across the city, with this large bastion in the centre bottom foreground; the next picture sees us hovering south of the river Thames, and spying on the line of circumvallation that cuts across Southwark and Lambeth of old, and below we see the centre at the Thames itself, with the Old London Bridge topped by houses as it was all that time ago before the Great Fire:

Next up, a good view of the old St. Paul's Cathedral in the middle, rising amidst row upon row of houses and buildings -if only they had been individually made and painted by Timecast rather than cast in this architectural art-form!

I think I'll definitely have to inaugurate an annual wargaming event here, with a few thousand Baccus, Irregular or Heroics and Ros 6mms on hand to fight out a fictional siege; don't know what the Artists themselves might make of that, though; an interesting Wikipedia page describing the artwork and the fortifications depicted thereon can be found here:

Next is quite a hop skip and a jump away, on the south side of the river Thames near Tower Bridge, outside of the newly iconic 'motorcycle helmet' of City Hall, currently inhabited by the buffoonish bouffanted Mayor Boris.
This would make a great little board for some sort of Kaiju / attack of the X-Monster type nonsense, with each target for stomping clearly outlined in all-weather bronze (Flock has no place in the outdoors!):

Never seen a circular wargaming table, of course, nor one that helpfully points out the location of the nearest WC facilities:

For those amongst you that are navally minded, how about a 1/900th-ish representation of the WWII light cruiser HMS Belfast, a definite magnet for the weapons of any passing Martian War Machine, if ever I saw one.....of course, the 1:1 scale version is docked nearby....

So then, really just some publicly-minded works of Art, but nevertheless, grist to the mill of my own wargaming imagination at least, which might be worth your while seeking out, if you are ever in the neighbourhood!

So, where would you mount your attack from? The eastern approach looks pretty well about a riverine assault, Renaissance style.....? :-).


  1. Only problem I can see is taken them home!

    Strange thing is that I have seen a large number of panorama views in relief but never seen these outside of museums.

    As for circles - see TMP

  2. These are just screaming for someone to take down some Tripod figures and destroy London with heatrays!

  3. Hi guys, yes, these certainly called out to me whilst we wandered the highways and byways; then again, it's not as if we can carry miniatures with us all the time, just in case we spot a 'table' like these, so I had to let the opportunity for a game pass me by!

    Thanks for opening the discussion at TMP, ADB, regarding the round tables - some interesting comments and links there.

    Tas, I can see the Black Gas rolling across the rooftops as we speak.....