“And for the more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys games”

Famous or infamous quote from H.G. Wells https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/08/25/that-more-intelligent-sort-of-girl-who-likes-boys-games-and-books/

Female war gamers often describe themselves as legendary or mythical creatures.

Search around, there are now a fair number of female war gamers blogging (usually more fantasy than historical).

Other Mythical Creatures – https://poundstoreplasticwarriors.wordpress.com/2017/12/22/military-unicorns-of-the-world-in-colour/

Cards on the table: I am not a club war gamer or club board gamer, never have been and probably never will be. I have always been essentially an occasional solo gamer, but mostly a repairer, converter, painter, collector and general hack-abouter of toy soldiers.

However the ‘social history’ of gaming and war gaming is an interesting one to me as it spread out from a military training tool in the nineteenth century onwards via H.G. Wells’ Little Wars, avoiding a destructive swish of skirts on the nursery floor to a more diverse civilian audience in the 1960s and 1970s boom.

I was intrigued whilst casually researching ‘war games’ on the British Newspaper Archive to come across this curious snippet from The West Briton November 18, 1971 (interestingly around the Armistice / Remembrance period):

Wargame Society

“A meeting of wargaming societies from Truro School and Truro Girls Hugh School was held last week at Truro School to discuss the possibility of forming a Wargaming Society which would be open to members of the public of Truro.

About 20 attended the meeting, which was presided over by Mr. Derek Burrell, headmaster of Truro School.”


What makes this noteworthy fifty years later is the words “and Truro Girls High School“.

Both schools are still in existence, both long established (nineteenth century) independent, fee-paying or private schools in Cornwall.

The time of the event is not surprising: 1971 was midway through the ‘first Wargames boom period’ from Featherstone’s War Games 1962 onwards with Airfix riding high: cue vintage wargaming sort of nostalgia.

A month or so later a further interview turns up in the West Briton, 20 December 1971: almost no mention of any girl gamers or female gamers.

Club spokeswoman sixth former Bob Aldridge on “Britain’s fastest growing hobby” West Briton, December 1971. (Bob Aldridge was still active on Facebook in the last few years.)

I can find no further trace of this Truro Wargames Society involving girls or female gamers.

As club members move on, it may not have lasted very long. Clubs schism over rules, scale and periods played.

A Fantasy and Wargames Society was announced in the same area in the 1983, according to the article, one particularly seeking female members to play Dungeons and Dragons.

Kevin Roke, organiser of a Fantasy and Wargames Society of Cornwall, (21 March 1983 West Briton) sought more members including women gamers. Keen to “attract some women, secretary Kevin Roke believes, the games being played have appeal not only for men.”

This type of press article is always fascinating, as bemused local journalists try to get their head round a quirky niche hobby and make it sound interesting to outsiders:

West Briton 15 December 1980 – Trevor Jones and Grant Pettit name checked – Grant is still active in the Cornwall Wargames Association Facebook group forty years later. Life-long lasting hobby!

An Armageddon Club of gamers also met in the Truro area in the 1980s, maybe not the most sensitive of naming in the Nuclear 80s when the phrase The War Game in the British Newspaper Archive ironically throws up multiple 1980s listings of the local CND groups showing ‘The War Game’ film in village halls.

Another West Briton newspaper snippet about a new Wargames West society was announced at a local boys club in Truro in 1993 suggesting the other 1971 Society or 1980s ones were no more?

As mentioned, the Cornwall Wargames Association and other SW games societies still exist, with a few outposts of Games Workshop stores down West and a declining number of local model shops.

Maybe other readers know more?

There may be some veteran Truro High School for Girls female war gamers in their sixties and seventies out there with vague memories in 1971 of pushing lead and plastic figures around a table

but sadly I somehow doubt this …


Blog posted by Mark Man of TIN, down far West, 2 October 2021.

Title Quote from H.G. Wells https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2018/08/25/that-more-intelligent-sort-of-girl-who-likes-boys-games-and-books/

Here is a bit of background research from early 2021 into the women around the Wells household when Little Wars was written.


Lost Legions 1: Fighting On The Beaches

Beachcombing is a great source of gaming scrap and natural materials for terrain (stones, driftwood, fishing line). Interesting textured bits of plastic. And cuttlefish, but that’s for the postscript.

Good beaches for Beachcombing  include Cornwall and the Scilly Isles.  Holywell Bay beach in Cornwall even has Lego washing up from a lost shipment but I have never found any. Lyme Regis in Dorset has ammonite fossils and Victorian and early 20th century scrap falling out of the cliffs onto its beach.

Beachcombing finds from Cornwall and Isles of Scilly – blue and white pottery, clay pipe fragments and the odd beach warrior!

A lovely beach cafe on the Isles of Scilly has a wall cabinet full of things found in the beach sand, including the bashed and still faintly  painted remains of lead soldiers lost before the 1960s.

Very rarely do I find figures. image.jpeg

Another plastic figure I found lost on a Cornish beach was another modern green army man.


The first figure had obviously been fighting on the beaches longer as he was quite sandworn.


As with the Scilly beaches’ battered and  lost lead legions, some child holidaying or visiting on a Cornish  beach must have mislaid these figures when demolishing or defending their sand castle.

Oddly,  despite sand castles and coasts to defend, I have yet to find plastic knights or pirate figures whilst Beachcombing.

In a future blogpost, I’ll talk more about sandpit rules that  you can find online, the odd sandpit or sand table disaster and  lost Airfix figures.

Postscript (and a warning?)

A goldsmith and Cornish jewellery maker I know and talked casting with used very dry cuttlefish for experiments in textured casting, his work inspired by natural forms.

I’m told by some that work on bringing the past alive to visitors on prehistoric coastal sites that simple jewellery moulds can be made in cuttlefish.

The goldsmith may have been using silver or other metals, very different from the Prince August model metal I am used to.

In thanks for the chat and the arrival of the jewellery commissioned, I sent him one of the early Prince August toy soldiers I’d made.

Hopefully it still stands guard over the precious metals in his Cornish studio.

The cuttlefish would have to be very, very dry as wet materials and molten metal tend to explode messily, as Donald Featherstone points out in his advice on making simple Plaster of Paris figure moulds in Wargames (1962) as does Iain Dickie in Wargaming on a Budget. They need to completely dry out first and have no trace of moisture left if you enjoy having your sight, a face or a kitchen left.


More on Lost Legions and that Cornish goldsmith in another post …

Posted by Mr MIN, Man of TIN, June 2016.