Our history, our meetings and the games we play
History of the club
The roots of the club date back to mid 1977. Nick Dorrell, the founder of the club, had been thinking of starting a local club for some time. Then his regular gaming partner at this time moved away to university and this prompted him to try to form a club. As he did not know any other gamers at the time he decided to put an advert in the August 1977 edition of Military Modelling magazine. Nick received 6 replies to his advert and organised a meeting with these people to really form the club. The first meeting was held in late August 1977 or early 1978 in a community centre in Kidderminster.
This venue wasn't very satisfactory and so after a few meetings there the club moved to the Heightington Village Hall, in early 1979. This was a good sized venue and the club grew to a group of perhaps 10 to 15 people. However, the location was remote and transport difficult, so the club moved into the centre of Kidderminster around 1983-84. The new location was the old School of Science and Art where the library now stands.
This was possibly the period of biggest participation in the club. The core group was supplemented by a large number of young teenage recruits, many staying briefly then moving on. There could be perhaps 40 people attending in those days and some of them continued gaming in the club or elsewhere. The club had been active in the wider gaming scene for some time; the first gaming show attended was the 'Midland Militaire' in June 1978. There are some photos of a re-fight of the battle of Brunanburh, 937, which the club ran at a show in Reading, circa 1986 (photos here). Another highlight of this time was the appearance of a couple of the club members on a TV show about hobbies, Keen Types in January 1984. This historic moment has been preserved and the video is available on YouTube (for those of you who can bear to watch).
By this time club members were also regularly contributing articles to the gaming magazines, some of which are still used by gamers. For example the battle of Brunanburh, see above, featured as an article in September 1985 but still gets used today (see an example here). The club has a proud record of contributions by members and former members to the hobby, history and wider interests.
The club moved again in 1989 after the School of Science and Art was demolished. The new location was a scout hut off Habberley Road in Kidderminster. This was situated in a playing field and a feature of this period was the post gaming football match. The time at the scout hall was in turn cut short by the hall being closed and demolished so the club moved again in the early 90’s to the function rooms of Kidderminster Cricket Club on Chester Road.
The nature of the club was now changing. There was a stable group of core members but many younger players began to drift away due to education, work and family commitments. The numbers declined, a trend that continued up to 2009 and the membership dwindled to its lowest point since the early days. Although this was perhaps a low point in the history of the club yet was perhaps inevitable as the core group of the club matured. There were still great games and productive activities but it was clear that a change was needed. The historical section of the club changed from meeting every week to once a month. This was more 'user friendly' to the lives of the members who now had less free time. Luckily this also coincided with many gamers regaining interest in gaming or simply having more time for it as their other responsibilities faded. From 2010 the membership again started to grow again with both returning ex members and new members, many who had moved into the area. The club was still meeting at the cricket club but this was by now less satisfactory and in any case was due to be closed and refurbished.
The opportunity was taken to move to the Rotary Club in Droitwich in 2011 or 2012 and this was to prove to be the start of the current era, I am tempted to say The Golden Era, of the club. The once a month meetings and relatively small size of the venue meant that members planned games more and looked forward to playing. Membership grew steadily and the club thrived. By 2014 the success of the club was causing problems as the venue was relatively small and the growing numbers of members were struggling to fit in. It was clear the club would have to move to a larger location. In January 2015 the club moved to St Ambrose Church Hall in Kidderminster.
From that time the club has continued to grow and thrive. In 2020, during the first Covid19 lockdown, the closure of St Ambrose prompted a search for a new meeting place and in July of that year Holt Heath Village Hall became our home. However, when St Ambrose became available again later in the year we decided to use both venues and have two meetings a month. There have been several times since then when the latest venues have been pushed to accommodate us all, a tribute to the warm, friendly atmosphere provided by all the members and their continuing interest in running exciting, fun games. This year the club will be 47 years old, let's hope it continues for many more years.
Interview with Nick Dorrell
In October 2020 the founder of the club, Nick Dorrell, was interviewed on the God's Own Scale Podcast. In a fascinating and wide ranging conversation, Nick talked about his introduction to wargaming, the formation and activities of the club and the many sets of rules, books and articles he has written over the years. I am grateful to Sean, the creator of the podcast, for allowing the interview to be placed on the Wyre Forest Gamers site.
Sean's podcast features an ever-growing number of interviews with key figures in the hobby and is heartily recommended. You can find it here.
Dave Chubb - A Tribute
Wyre Forest Gamers is deeply saddened to report that club member Dave Chubb passed away on 18th October 2023. Dave was one of the very earliest members, had a lasting influence on the nature and spirit of the club and will be greatly missed. We would like to express our condolences to his family and friends. A tribute to Dave's massive contribution to the club can be found here.
The Club in 2024
In recent years the club has seen a steady growth in active membership. On most club Sundays there will be 18-25 attendees and between five and seven games in play. Visitors and non-members are especially welcome, we will do our best to make everybody feel at home and encourage first-timers to take part in one of the games. Many of our members hold local games or have regular wargames sessions outside the club calendar. We also have a presence at many local and national gaming shows, usually running a demonstration game.
The games we play
The following list of games is by no means exhaustive, it simply reflects the activity in the club over the last twenty-four months. There should be something for everybody but if you don't see a period or rule set that matches your interests, why not come along and show us what we're missing. A summary of the games played at Club Sundays during 2023 can be found here.