Yesterday I went to what must be one of the UK's smallest wargaming shows, "Whiff of Grapeshot" at "Firepower", the Royal Artillery Museum in Woolwich. I had not heard of this show until last week. I'm ashamed to say that I hadn't heard of the museum either, even though I live just down the Thames from Woolwich.
The museum is wonderful - it is basically a display of artillery from the early 17th century up to the Cold War and contains some fantastic pieces (and some medieval stuff too). It is easy to forget just how large these guns are, until you stand next to (or underneath) them. There was plenty of late 18th century stuff which I enjoyed inspecting. Particularly interesting was a cabinet containing the citations of all the artillerymen who have won the Victoria Cross. What did I learn that will help with painting and wargaming? In an earlier post on British 6-pounders I queried whether the gunners would be standing within the wheels of the gun - at the museum was a Napoleonic gun (I forget the calibre....) which had a replica gunner doing just that; there was plenty of space for him. I have also wondered what the colour should be of the top of the ammunication cases that sit between the wheels and the barrel - well the covers are clearly leather (not wood or metal as I had thought previously) and so a bit of re-painting may be in order. Very useful.
There were about a dozen games and a decent number of traders. A couple of people said footfall was fairly low, possibly because Britcon was on at the same time. That said, there were several families there, which you don't often see at shows. I passed the Touching History stand first and thought I'd pick up a couple of pieces once I had done a circuit of the entire show. Even thought that circuit took about 15 minutes, by the time I returned the redoubt I wanted to buy had been sold! That will teach me....But I ordered some wheatfields which will come in handy when I paint up some Foundry civilian farmers later in the month. The Touching History AWI display was fantastic, and a couple of pics are below. More can be found on the Touching History website which I had added to the links section. The photos above show the 25mm WW2 "Attack on Pevensey" games that Levied Troop and the South East Essex Military Society put on, together with a general shot of the upstairs gallery, with that Napoleonic gun in the corner. Dave Thomas had a huge selection of miniatures. After my Touching History disappointment I was tempted to fill my rucksack with Perry and Conquest goodies, but given that I've already mapped out my painting schedule up to the SELWG show in October I resisted, and settled for a couple of packs of Mahdists and some more Iroquois. I also had a very enjoyable chat with Henry Hyde, editor of the top-notch "Battlegames" magazine (hard to believe it's already 2 years old), and Mike Siggins, voice of the hobby since, well, the dawn of time really. As a result of that chat I will be dusting off my Napoleonic Dutch-Belgian cavalry and painting up a few others.......more on that anon.
This museum is well worth a look when passing through London. There seems to be some doubt as to whether it can survive the demands of property developers and a local council keen to make some easy cash by selling the site off. To lose a museum like this would be a small tragedy, although sadly not surprising in today's history-despising times. I will certainly be making another visit later in the year and will add this show to my handful of "regulars". Many thanks to the Gravesend Wargames Club for organising the show.