The South East London Wargamers (SELWG) was started in the 1970s by an avid wargamer Chris Hurren. Chris had been playing wargames throughout the 60s with the likes of Charles Grant Sr and Donald Featherstone. In 1971 Chris was working as a youth leader at the Grove Park Youth Club and this is where he decided to start a wargames club, soon to be known as SELWG. Chris advertised the first meeting extensively; spreading the word, placing ads within a number of local papers and in (now defunct) shops such as Welling Model World, The Rye Stamp, Hobby Shop and the London Model Consortium (which later became Beatties).
Chris’ first meeting was a resounding success, with over 100 hobby enthusiasts attending. To begin with the club included members who were primarily Military Modellers as well as others who were mostly Wargamers. After a few years the majority of the Military Modellers split from the club and formed the "Welling Military Modellers Club"; an event forever remembered as “The great hobby schism of ‘74”.
In our 5 decades of existence, the club has seen wargaming grow into one of the fastest growing hobby in the country. Back in the dark ages where the club was born (The 1960s…) you could count the number of wargaming clubs nationally on one hand. These days there are hundreds of clubs around the world, all playing a huge variety of games. Our Club has grown along with the hobby; originally the figures used were mostly Airfix, Minifigs or Hinchcliffe and now gamers have more choice than ever. This huge choice is not only reflected in the figures available but also the games we can play; whilst the members still predominantly play a variety of Historical Wargames (ADLAG, Bolt Action, Death in the Dark Continent and many others) there is a large contagion of both Fantasy and Sci-Fi wargames played (Most noteably Warhammer 40K, Warhammer Fantasy Battles and Age of Sigmar, but also Mantic’s Kings of war, Malifaux and other modern systems). In addition to the traditional table top wargames many members also play various board games and RPGs (there are currently three individual DnD 5e campaigns on the go)
Every year the club hosts a show where Hobbyists from across the country come to meet each other, play a variety of demonstration games put on by other Wargaming Clubs and browse the many vendors who attend. The first show was held in 1973 at the clubs then premisis, moving to Greenwich Town Hall in 1980. Two other moves followed, Lewisham Sports Centre in 1985 (where the club tied in with a new Wargaming/Modelling magazine; "Army and Navy Model World) and now to its present location of Crystal Palace since 1993.
From humble beginnings (from meeting Friday’s once a month to meetings being held every Friday) SELWG continues to grow, membership now stands at over 70 members (at our high point in the mid 80's we had in excess of 135 members).
The ravages of time have caught up with some of the older members, some have sadly gone for good, some have drifted away to start their own clubs, joined others closer to home or some have finally met that great Wargamers Nemesis: a partner who just doesn’t understand our great hobby (why you want to play with toy soldiers at your age, is beyond me). I hope to all our SELWG members, past and present, that this is more than just a Wargames club, it’s where all of us have formed lasting friendships over the years, through the good times and bad. I would like to think that in a couple hundred years time, a SELWG member will lovingly pick up their personnel hologramatic display imager, and look back at the faces of club members from 1971 and say, "Christ, wasn't there a lot of ugly sods around at the club in the 20th century".