The Poor Child’s City – E. Nesbit on teachers, schools and making Magic Cities in Wings and The Child 1913

“There are no words to express half what I feel about the teachers in our Council Schools, their enthusiasm, their patience, their energy, their devotion. When we think of what the lives of poor children are …” E. Nesbit

It has been a tough time for many children and teachers during Lockdown, with schools mostly shut, rapidly adapting to home schooling and being taught online, the inequalities of the nation shown up by concerns over free school meal vouchers and lack of data or laptops.

Cotton Reels and pine cones or acorns for Magical City gardens

I started reading Wings and The Child or the Building of Magic Cities (1913) by E. Nesbit (of Railway Children fame) with some scepticism about this middle class pastime of borrowed silver candlesticks and marbled bound volumes set up by servants in the library or the nursery.

The first half of the book is about her thoughts on childhood, education and the state of England, the second half is how she makes her Magic Cities with the help of her children.

Reading this book, I get echoes of Baden Powell’s Scouting for Boys and E.M. Forster’s Howard’s End, a concern for the rapidly urbanising State of the Nation, shown up in BP’s case by the poor standard of recruits for the Boer War.

What I didn’t realise is that Edith Nesbit, in response to many letters from children about her children’s book The Magic City (1910), exhibited and manned her Magic City at during the Child Welfare Exhibition Olympia of late 1912 and early 1913, the year her book was published.

Here at the Exhibition, she had a wide range of visitors from foreign royalty to teachers. Fellow exhibitors included the suffragette or suffrage societies.

Regular blog readers will have read my recent posts on H.G. Wells’ Floor Games (1911) and Little Wars (1913).

Edith Nesbit (or Mrs Hubert Bland) and her husband Hubert would have known Wells and his Little Wars friends like Mr W. (Graham Wallas) through the socialist Fabian Society. Arguably Wells’ science fiction books have their own criticisms of the state of the Nation or colonialism and Empire such as The War of the Worlds or The Time Machine.

This Edwardian period is one where I often base my games, from suffragette bill postering on wheels to Scouting Wide Games for Boy and Girl Scouts.

Reproaching my initial modern prejudice about this book and her Edwardian Middle Class background, Nesbit shows that she is aware or able to adapt her thoughts to the situation of children in rural or urban board schools (primary schools) established in the 1870s.

Clothes pegs sawn into three parts for building.

The Poor Child’s City – CHAPTER VII, Wings and the Child, E. Nesbit, 1913

“When my city was built at Olympia a great many school-teachers who came to see it told me that they would like to help the children in their schools to build such cities, but that it would not be possible because the children came from poor homes, where there were none of the pretty things—candlesticks, brass bowls, silver ash-trays, chessmen, draughts, well-bound books, and all the rest of it—which I had used to build my city.

So then I said I would build a city out of the sort of things that poor children could collect and bring to school. And I did. My friends Mr. Annis and Mr. Taylor, who were helping me to explain the city and show it to visitors, helped me with the building. We did it in a day, and it was very pretty—so pretty that the school-teachers who came to see it asked me to write a book to say how that was done. And so I did.

There are no words to express half what feel about the teachers in our Council Schools, their enthusiasm, their patience, their energy, their devotion.

When we think of what the lives of poor children are, of the little they have of the good things of this world, the little chance they have of growing up to any better fate than that of their fathers and mothers, who do the hardest work of all and get the least pay of all those who work for money—when we think how rich people have money to throw away, how their dogs have velvet coats and silver collars, and eat chicken off china, while the little children of the poor live on bread and tea, and wear what they can get—often enough, too little—when we think of all these things, if we can bear to think of them at all, there is not one of us, I suppose, who would not willingly die if by our death we could secure for these children a fairer share of the wealth of England, the richest country in the world.

For wealth, by which I mean money, can buy all those things which children ought to have, and which these children do not have—good food, warm clothes, fresh country air, playthings and books, and pictures.

Remembering that by far the greater number of children of England have none of these things, you would, I know, gladly die if dying would help. To die for a cause is easy—you leap into the gulf like Curtius, or fall on the spears like Winkelried, or go down with your ship for the honour of your country.

To lead a forlorn hope, to try to save one child from fire or water, and die in the attempt—that is easy and glorious. The hard thing to do is to live for your country—to live for its children.

And it is this that the teachers in the Council Schools do, year in and year out, with the most unselfish nobility and perseverance.

And nobody applauds or makes as much fuss as is made over a boy who saves a drowning kitten. In the face of enormous difficulties and obstacles, exposed to the constant pin-pricks of little worries, kept short of space, short of materials and short of money, yet these teachers go on bravely, not just doing what they are paid to do, but a thousand times more, devoting heart, mind, and soul to their splendid ambition and counting themselves well paid if they can make the world a better and a brighter place for the children they serve.

If these children when they grow up shall prove better citizens, kinder fathers, and better, wiser, and nobler than their fathers were, we shall owe all the change and progress to the teachers who are spending their lives to this end.

And this I had to say before I could begin to write about how cities may be built of such materials as poor children can collect and bring to school …” (E. Nesbit, Wings and The Child, 1913)

You can read the rest of this section and the whole of Wings and the Child here:

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/38977/38977-h/38977-h.htm#Page_174

Cocoanut Cottage … tin can towers

Wings and The Child – A very interesting book , along with Little Wars and Floor Games that captures the spirit of our childhood games and our modern gamers’ scrap modelling.

Many of her other comments in Wings and The Child on the ‘institution’ of Education from the content of curriculums, class sizes and the lack of time for concern for the individual personality of children might be heard in school staff rooms and home education groups today.

The communal or collective efforts (collective in many senses of the word) to make these Magic Cities in urban or rural Board Schools must have been splendid sights to see, the shiny tin can city version of the glories of the Victorian and Edwardian “Nature Table” in primary schools and Sunday Schools.

Bravo Board and Council School Teachers!

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 24 January 2021

Mr W and a dear friend who died … two more Invisible Men behind Little Wars 1913?

Following my post on the people behind H.G. Wells’ development of Little Wars:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2021/01/21/the-invisible-men-and-women-behind-h-g-wells-little-wars-and-floor-games/

Thanks to Rahway’s comments about the Scholarly Editing text edition of Little Wars, the two editors have suggestions on who two more of the unattributed names are: Mr W and a dear friend who died, suggested as Graham Wallas and George Gissing.

https://scholarlyediting.org/2017/editions/littlewars/fulltext.html#note5

Thanks to Nigel Lepianka and Deanna Stover at Scholarly Editing for this research.

The identity of Mr M and his brother Captain M “Hot from the Great War in Africa” remain as yet unidentified.

Graham Wallas, like Wells, was interested in socialism.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graham_Wallas

George Gissing the writer

George Robert Gissing (22 November 1857 – 28 December 1903) was an English novelist, who published 23 novels between 1880 and 1903. His best-known novels, which have reappeared in modern editions, include The Nether World (1889), New Grub Street (1891) and The Odd Women (1893).

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Gissing

The dates of Gissing’s death fits Wells’ pen portrait of his dear ailing friend, who died six or seven years ago if Little Wars was published in 1913 but probably written in stages over several years including the two published Windsor Magazine articles 1912 and Floor Games in 1911.

Gissing died aged 46 on 28 December 1903 having caught a chill on an ill-advised winter walk. He is buried in the English cemetery at Saint-Jean-de-Luz. Veranilda was published incomplete in 1904.

H. G. Wells, after a Christmas Eve telegram, came to Gissing at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in his final days and helped to nurse him. Wells characterized him as a “flimsy inordinate stir of grey matter”, adding: “He was a pessimistic writer. He spent his big fine brain depreciating life, because he would not and perhaps could not look life squarely in the eyes — neither his circumstances nor the conventions about him nor the adverse things about him nor the limitations of his personal character. But whether it was nature or education that made this tragedy I cannot tell.”[27] Will Warburton was published in 1905, as was his final volume, the short-story collection The House of Cobwebs.[28]. (Wikipedia source George Gissing)

Thanks Wikipedia – and happy 20th Birthday!

New Grub Street is a version of Fleet Street, the newspaper and journalists’ haunt of old, close to Red Lion Court (Bloomsbury?) where Wells’ publisher Frank Palmer worked.

I have ordered a second hand copy of Gissing’s letters to H G Wells, as I enjoy Gissing’s books.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, January

And Girls Did Play Too? E. Nesbit’s version of H G Wells’ Floor Games – Wings and the Child 1913

One of Edith Nesbit’s elaborate play palaces and magical cities in Wings and the Child (1913)

I have previously mentioned E. Nesbit’s curious short story The City in the Library 1901 with her own children featured in this odd fever dream:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/25/how-to-feed-toy-soldiers/

Wells and Nesbit knew of each other and had links to the socialist Fabian Society (after which she named her son Fabian).

Scholarly Editing indeed: Intriguing references to Britain’s Civilians and E. Nesbit’s Wings and the Child. As ever, the Brontes! Scholarly Editing 2017, Volume 38 Little Wars by H. G. Wells Edited by Nigel Lepianka and Deanna Stover

Thanks to Rahway flagging up a scholarly editing of the Little Wars text, Scholarly Editing 2017, Volume 38- Little Wars by H. G. Wells – edited by Nigel Lepianka and Deanna Stover

https://scholarlyediting.org/2017/editions/littlewars/intro.html#page_info

I discovered that E.Nesbit, in parallel to Wells writing Floor Games (1911), wrote her own book on how to make miniature worlds and magical cities, published in 1913, the year Little Wars was published.

Wings and the Child can be read here in text form with illustrations:

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/38977/38977-h/38977-h.htm#Page_3

Lots to enjoy and ponder here for the weekend.

The book reminds me of Edwardian “gardening with children” manuals. The relatively new idea of “Childhood” for some, especially middle class Edwardian childhood, suddenly needed its Parenting manuals. Arguably these are an improvement on the stereotypical Victorian parenting of “Children should be seen and not heard” – especially in Sunday’s – and preferably not seen either.

“Now send them off to the Nursery with the Nurse or Governess or Boarding School …”

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 23 January 2021

In the Teeth of the Enemy: Christmas Cracker Scrap Terrain

Unusual shelter for 2/3 of my 28mm Russian army from Bad Squiddo’s WW2 Women range

Enjoy recycling your Christmas cracker scrap this year!

Crossposted from my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog by Mark Man of TIN 23 December 2020:

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2020/12/23/in-the-teeth-of-the-enemy-more-unusual-scrap-terrain/

Mysterious Jungle Carvings of South America?

Strange Carvings Amid the Jungle Ruins … uncovered by my favourite 1970s 54mm Airfix figure, WW2 Australian Officer, produced before the Indiana Jones films.

There is an unusually festive source for these strange and mysterious stone carvings in the South American jungles – a cheap terrain idea, crossposted from my sister blog Pound Store Plastic Warriors:

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2020/12/07/christmas-biscuits-or-mysterious-jungle-carvings-of-south-america/

What does a Mixtec Oracular Priest make of these tribal carvings? Chintoys 54mm Mixtecs

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN 7 December 2020

Menhirs on the cheap at Much Flocking on the Henge

Some super cheap wargaming and scrap modelling using an old roll on deodorant – a handy ‘how to’ guide posted or crossposted from my Pound Store Plastic Warriors blog by Mark Man of TIN

https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2020/11/25/menhirs-on-the-cheap-at-much-flocking-on-the-henge/

Big Bad Al or Heap Good Al? You decide.

Howdy! The Fabulous Flying Gruber Brothers needed a leader of their Gang, so they kept it in the family.

Meet Al – some say Big Bad Al, some say Heap Good Al.

Some say that he is the Father of the Gruber boys, others that he is their Cousin, Uncle or Older Brother. Some wisely choose not to say anything.

Some say that Al may in fact be Twins, just never seen together in the same place.

Those that have opinions on the matter and keep their mouths closed generally live longer lives out on these Wilde frontiers and borders and may even get to die in bed of old age.

In the wilds of the Wyrd Wilde West, anything could be a fact or true.

Timpo Bank and Timpo unpainted cowboy reunited … love those bright Timpo colours.

Big Bad Al or Heap Good Al? It depends who’s asking and who’s paying.

Whether they are protecting the Bank with their firepower or relieving it of some of that tiresome shiny metal, it’s a matter of opinion – it all depends on who is asking and who is paying (usually the most but they like to pick and choose their work).

The Gruber Family Door Knocker …

The Fabulous Flying Gruber Brothers Abe, Zeke and Frank can be seen here in their repaired state:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/07/25/the-fabulous-flying-gruber-boys-are-back-in-town/

The Armies in Plastic figures Rogers Ranger’s kindly gifted to me by Alan Tradgardland Gruber are seen here after unpacking. They are now painted or repainted, gloss varnished and awaiting final shiny metal work before they set off to explore my mighty fine Bold Frontiers forest trees.

A wider, more historically accurate and more diverse range of cowboys can be seen here from my blog post in 2019: https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2019/08/16/black-cowboys-time-tunnels-earworms-and-the-old-town-road/

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 29/30 July 2020.

Book Nooks and Book Ends from BBC News

IMG_2189
BBC website “book nook” image of work by Konstantin Borisov 

An enchanting little story, of book nooks, an idea that could well grace a military or fantasy modeller’s book shelves? Lots of examples of these on Pinterest. Lots more pictures and links at this BBC article including Harry Potter style Diagon Alley type streets between books:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-trending-50840434

IMG_2190.JPG
Freudian dream analysts look away now …

This is a different idea from the Railway Modeller book ends that I featured on my Sidetracked blog:

https://sidetracked2017blog.wordpress.com/2017/07/29/tunnel-bookends/

Book Nooks and Book Ends – an interesting modelling idea to keep an eye on.

Trenches, tunnels, streets … lots of modelling ideas here.

I wonder what the fantasy gamer or modeller, the military or aircraft modellers etc would make of these novelty book nooks or book ends?

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 20 July 2020

Patch the Dog patched up and a Fort MacGuffin Update

Concerned readers will be pleased to know that Patch the dog, heroic hound and defender of his mistress Kate MacGuffin in the recent skirmish with the Forest Indians, is making a steady recovery.

Patch the Dog (Tradition of London Street scenes model) alongside Wendal aluminium ponies

Here Patch is pictured inside the Fort with his relieved mistress, the daughter of the Commanding office of the Forest Fort, receiving a treat from Captain Snortt.

Herbal remedies from the Fort’s new garden are part of his recovery plan.

Captain Snortt has been torn off a strip (thankfully not literally) by her father, Major MacGuffin, for getting them both lost whilst collecting herbs for the Fort’s herb garden and medicine chest.

There will be no such jaunts unaccompanied without a full patrol of Redcoats for the foreseeable future!

Patch has been awarded a fine engraved metal dog tag in lieu of the Gondal Star medal for his brave defence of Kate MacGuffin. Bravo, brave dog!

A Tour of the Forest Fort, North Gondal, Northern Pacific, 1870s

Let us take you on a tour of the small confines of the Forest Fort and Trading Post. Fort MacGuffin is the hub of several smaller defensive outposts in the area, developed and fortified by Major MacGuffin from an old Trading Post.

The timber for the Fort was all cut locally, much to the chagrin of the normally peaceful Forest Indians in what they regard as their sacred forests.

An Eagle’s Eye view of the Fort layout.

Inside the Fort, Kate MacGuffin has replanted the herb patch and added some floral colour. No doubt these are flowering medicinal plants of the area.

A small well of spring wate, separate from the moat, is topped with an attractive well.

The Fort’s small stock of timber and firewood is running low. Redcoats will have to set off into the surrounding forests to collect wood and even occasionally fell more trees.

On the other side of the small Fort and trading post, Captain Snortt checks recent Fort supplies.

A planked drawbridge in two removable sections crosses the small moat.

A small artillery piece protects the gate. (Toy soldier collectors might wish to know it began life as a novelty seaside pencil sharpener)

Rounding up the Fort livestock and patrolling the walls keeps the Redcoats busy.

Several goats, chickens and geese are kept for fresh eggs and milk (not mentioning meat in siege situations). These are now the charge of Kate MacGuffin, along with the Herb Patch inside the Fort and small veg gardens in the surrounds of the forest.

Redcoats are deputed to exercise the Regimental goats and protect them from the Forest Indians. They sometimes slip their halters and wander off into the Forest.

Freshwater fish are stocked in the moat in case of encirclement. Bored redcoats can fish from the ramparts as needed. Dynamite fishing also secures a ready catch in times of trouble, ready to be salted down or eaten fresh.

They await a travelling signwriter to spruce up their temporary sign by the Fort’s ‘Jack of all trades’ ASC Private Fuller.

In addition to the recent difficulties between the Forest Indians and the Redcoats of the Fort, worrying news has reached MacGuffin that some illegal loggers and miners have been seen neat the old boarded up mines.

Rumours of gold and limitless forest timber from time to time tempt roving bands of Outlanders and failed Settlers into the Forest, stirring up ill feeling and conflict with the native Forest Indians on their hunting grounds. MacGuffin is there as part of a Redcoat force to keep the peace and watch the borders and coasts of Gondal with the other surrounding kingdoms.

From childhood onwards, setting up Forts like these, they have had to have some logic to their structure, contents, exploitable weaknesses and other possible story lines.

A Small Fort Apache from Tiger Toys

The Fort was a gift from within the family, a find in a charity shop near where the Fort was made by Tiger Toys of Petersfield, Hampshire. The accompanying Timpo Swoppet figures or copies were sold through eBay but when I heard about the Fort, I expressed an interest and it arrived last Christmas.

For Fort enthusiasts, it is a Tiger Toys Fort Apache No. T550.

Tiger Toys, made in England, “Part of Growing Up” in the 1960s apparently.

An attractive flag and 7 Swoppet type (copies) of Cowboys and Indians (included?) can be seen.

Fort Apache – 45 shillings, so bought predecimal (pre 1971) for Graham, the original owner …

“Dear Graham, your Birthday Fort is in good hands, albeit with new defenders.”

I would quite happily collect Toy Forts and Castles, if I had the space to store or display them, which sadly I haven’t.

This isn’t the cowboy fort I grew up with, which was slightly different with a watch tower in the corner but hopefully Graham loved his Fort as much as I did ours. It too had internal preprinted buildings. Our 1950s / 1960s family wooden Cowboy Fort did not survive several generations of children and damp, reportedly its rather simple inexpensive wooden pieces went ‘beyond repair’. Sadly no photos of this Fort survive. Luckily the family Toy Castle of the same vintage is still in good condition at home.

The base folded in half, hinged like the doors with thick gummed taper or paper

What I liked about this is its fold-away flatpack construction, including a fold in half base. Our childhood Cowboy Fort base and walls were permanently fixed, so more awkwardly big to store.

The walls slot easily together. Only the tape holding the doors and the horse hitching rail post needs some repair. The flag had also vanished.

Woodworkers and makers of model Forts might find these construction shots of interest:

For those who care about such things, the wall sections are 16 inches long and 5 inches high. The building is 15 inches long and 3.5 inches high. The board unfolded is 18 inches wide by 18 inches (9 inches when folded).

Who were Tiger Toys?

Without the original box, I would have no clue to manufacturer. Other Tiger Toy Forts that I have seen have small round Tiger Toys stickers or labels.

A brief history of Tiger Toys 1959 to 1971/78 is given on this Hilary Page Toys website

The Hilary Page Toys website about Kiddicraft designs of the 1930s – 1950s has a page on Tiger Toys but does not mention Forts.

Researching on the web, I found several past sales pictured on Worthpoint and PicClick post auction value sites showing Tiger Toys forts, including the larger or more complex Fort Sioux and my simpler Fort Apache.

The more complex Fort Sioux T55? has two (fixed or removable?) watch towers, ladder, loopholes walls and doors and what looks like a grander flag.

What looks like a Tiger Toys sticker on the roof. The building print seems to vary over years between models.

Past sales page shows Fort Sioux in detail including different building print detail with sentry

After Robert Hirst’s death in 1971, W. Graeme Lines of the famous Lines Bros (Brothers) family toy firm mentioned in a long Victoria and Albert Museum / Museum of Childhood interview talked about his short relationship with the Tiger Toys team of Petersfield until its closure in 1978.

Other interesting British toy companies including Airfix are mentioned in the interview listings https://www.vam.ac.uk/moc/british-toy-making-oral-histories/

Tiger Toys also appear to have made more Kiddicraft style bright colourful preschool toys.
An attractive Tiger Toys village in a box, a toy also made by Kiddicraft
https://catalogue.millsarchive.org/durford-abbas-mill-rogate?sort=alphabetic&listLimit=20

I must have driven past the turn-off to the old Tiger Toys home factory, several times en route to somewhere else, little knowing that this Durford Mill in Rogate (Petersfield, Hampshire) was the 60s birthplace of my new vintage Fort.

Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, 9 / 10 June 2020.

B.P.S. Blog Post Script

We end with an interesting video about the early designer of many of these preschool toys, Hilary Page of Kiddicraft from the Hilary Page Toys website, arguably the designer of the Lego brick (only patented in the UK). https://youtu.be/ClzySyzwi3k

Making a Martello Tower from Scrap – Fort Crumble

To match a bunch of 15mm pirate and Redcoat preventive men from another random job lot of figures, I have added a coastal defence fort.

This is not the familiar Airfix WW2 one of my childhood but an original Napoleonic one – the Martello Tower.

I remember seeing these curious flowerpot coastal castles on childhood holidays to the south coast. I have a feeling I might have been inside one as well. We visited the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch area of Kent, the curious home of light railways, Dr. Syn, smuggling museums and marshes. All equally fascinating to a small child.

Martello Towers are the ultimate bucket and spade seaside sandcastle with a flag and a cannon on top.

If you are not familiar with them, there are several websites about them. Wikipedia has a wide range of information and a useful photo gallery from round the world on Martello Towers. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martello_tower

There is an entire dedicated website to Martello Towers, including ones that have been undermined by the sea revealing parts of their construction.

https://martellotowers.co.uk/armedforces covers the garrison of 24 men (cramped), Napoleonic era gun crews, Artillery Volunteers, Militia and “sea fencibles” (or ‘reformed’ smugglers).

There are in their 1990 English Heritage Martello Tower no. 24 booklet online here some wildly imaginative LacePunk / Steampunk original Napoleonic era prints of how the French might invade by raft, balloon and airship etc. – “typical shabby Nazi, sorry, Napoleonic tricks” as the 1805 version of Captain Mainwaring would say.

https://theromneymarsh.net/martello24guidebook

Cinque Ports Volunteers reenactors https://theromneymarsh.net/martello24#inside

Some smart Militia Volunteers, perfect for my scratch 15mm Napoleonic era garrisons of Forgotten Minor States.

Lots more at: https://theromneymarsh.net/martello24#inside

https://www.papershipwright.co.uk/product/south-coast-martello-tower/

Several manufacturers make resin or even Paper ones on the unusual Paper Shipwright website (which has free downloads of some things).

Some useful Martello Tower words for instant expertise: The roof gunnery platform floor is called a terreplein. The irony – a French word for a seaside castle cannon platform against Napoleon. Impressed?

Building your Crumble Pot Martello Towers

So where to start?

What first gave me the idea was a bit of scrap recycling from a recent sweet treat gift, some mini crumble puddings.

“First eat your puddings …”

Add in the plastic top to some lovely lunchtime Itsu noodles, the only unrecyclable bit but which also comes in handy for flocking trays.

So in Blue Peter style you need in suitable size or scale for your figures, in this case 15mm:

    Two plastic containers or flowerpot shapes, one cut down to sit inside the other to give the roof space.
    A base or lid upturned to give extra height if needed
    A spare cannon such as this one from the Risk boardgame,
    Some lolly sticks for the gun pivot
    A drawing pin for the pivot
    Acrylic model paint to coat the plastic
    Scalpel or sharp scissors to cut out the roof hole and cut down the inner pot.

Cut a neater hole in the base than I did (wrong sort of jaggy plastic, didn’t want to try the candle / knife method to smoothly melt the edges). This gives you your roof opening.

Place this cut open base over the other pot and work out how much you need to cut off to give you the gunnery space and shelter for the Gun Teams. Pop a figure and the gun inside to get an idea of size.

Cut in stages or strips away at the bottom part of the inner pot until your figures and gun sit right inside. Like Lockdown haircuts, you can’t add it back once you’ve cut it off.

The swivel: The gun is on a raised up platform to give that 360 degree swivel. Measure the lolly stick from middle of the pot top / base. Insert drawing pin as pivot. Put through plastic top. Secure pin bit underneath with a piece of thick card or balsa.

Paint the outside of the tower with an undercoat of white or light grey. Don’t forget to paint the inside (pot base) of the tower roof gunnery platform before you start sticking these together.

Stick your gun onto a short piece(s) of lollystick to step it up step by step on the swivel piece until it can freely move around the rim of the tower.

Dry Run – Once you have tried all the finished bits and bobs together, then glue the cutdown pot onto the noodle lid, and add the top pot.

The stepped cannon is the last fiddly bit to add, the barrel poking above the battlements and freely pivoting.

Avoiding cutting out recessed windows and doors into jaggy plastic, I used thin card to make the door and window frames.

These doors and windows were on the landward side to protect them from ship attack. The seaward walls were slightly thicker brick walls to cope with attack from the sea.

An external ladder from the Airfix Commando set was added but could be made from card. The doorway platform and ladder were designed to be easily taken inside or demolished by the tower gun crew.

Cleverly the towers had a rainwater collection from the roof to basement water tank or internal well to survive sieges. Tucked away are musket racks inside, gunnery stores, shot lockers, ration stores. Officers quarters were small but separate from the men’s. It is part castle, part stone naval ship.

Martello Towers were built all around the world so I can feature them in some ImagiNations and Colonial games like the Forgotten Minor States.

What next for gaming scenarios with the Martello tower?

Add some sandy coloured felt and blue felt,

  • a lighthouse, quay, warehouses and scattering of wooden houses,
  • my random job lot 15mm pirates and tricorne men
  • a cheap plastic boat / ship (what is the difference anyway?) from a seaside toy shop pirates set stocked away for rainy days,

All this is surely a scratch recipe for a coastal / pirate / naval game of Close Little Pirate Wars! Pistols, cutlasses, cannons, blunderbusses, muskets …

This lovely Murray King postcard of Cornish Wreckers vs the Excise or Preventative Men gave me some uniform colour ideas. I have some random tricorne figures to paint up as Customs redcoats.

I mocked up a quick harbour scene with the Martello Tower in place, using a Tamiya stone paving baseplate.

I blame Gridbased wargaming for his St. Nazaire raid game last year https://gridbasedwargaming.blogspot.com/2020/01/st-nazaire-raid-game-report.html

I think you can see the influence of this St Nazaire harbour game in my simple dockyard buildings and warehouses using some crafty Christmas decoration presents:

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/02/01/to-the-lighthouse-more-christmas-gaming-crafty-surprises/

These ‘make your own Christmas decoration houses’ were easy to transform into flexible 15mm warehouses. Other blocks of wood were used to add storehouses.

Further Gaming Scenarios

After 1815, Martello Towers around the world were reoccupied as needed by troops, coastguard and preventive men throughout troubled times in the 19th and 20th century. Some were adapted as signal stations.

Others were reused in WW2 for coastwatch, observer Corps and effectively as pillboxes against German invasion.

So Captain Mainwaring lives on, he can again guard the coast of the Novelty Rock Emporium to the Pier at Warmington on Sea against seaborne and airborne German troops – disguised as nuns? – another “typical shabby Nazi trick”. Mainwaring really ought to have a Martello Tower to defend as well.

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2020/02/01/to-the-lighthouse-more-christmas-gaming-crafty-surprises/

Blogposted by Mark Man of TIN 29 April 2020