English Civil War Firelocks in 28mm

Photo of Three painted Warlord Games firelock regiments

Reaching peak firelock

I decided to paint some firelocks for my 28mm English Civil War forces. The plan being to start painting armies with a small amount of figures. Also to create forces for The Pikeman’s Lament rules.

Firelocks were infantry armed with muskets with flint firing mechanism instead of the more common burning match. This made them much safer around combustible items like powder.  This may have been offset by the fondness for clay pipes in the 17th-century though!

I used the Warlord Games plastic firelock figures because I had gathered quite a lot of them. By the time I finished I probably had more firelocks than Charles I and Cromwell combined! I also made some baggage for them to guard.

Assembling and painting the firelocks

The figures are simple castings and fit together easily. Not the the most exciting of figures but they do the job well. I used spare hats from other Warlord Games plastics for this period for variety. For a sergeant for each company I used pieces from the command sprue and a pikeman body. Again from the English Civil War plastics range.

I use plastic figures because they are cheap and I don’t feel obliged to spend ages painting them! So an undercoat of Humbrol dark brown matt enamel was followed by acrylics. I use Citadel base colours and Vallejo Heavy Colours because they cover well. A varnish with Humbrol matt enamel varnish and job done. I based them on Renedra plastic bases and used my own mix of basing gunk.

I painted a red and a blue uniformed unit to represent the Oxford Army of 1643. The idea being to use these for the western battles.

The third unit was painted grey with some orange tawny hat bands to depict a generic Parliamentarian regiment.

Baggage to guard

Firelock guards are recorded as protecting vital stores like powder. So I made an ammunition cart and a water cart. I used 4Ground MDF models assembled with PVA glue, undercoated with Wilko spray undercoat and finished with acrylics.

The MDF models were easy to assemble although some parts are fragile. Breakages are easily fixed with a spot of PVA though! The only shortcoming is detail is only on one side of the parts. For example, where the inside of a wheel is visible the surface is plain. This shouldn’t put you off I think because it’s only visible on close inspection.


How museums get new objects

New artefacts for old?

Something I’m regularly asked when people find I work in a museum is “how do museums get new objects”?. The answer probably is that it varies. Where there’s a collecting policy the process is transparent but otherwise an enigma inside a mystery.

On visiting the National Army Museum in Stockholm in early September 2017 I saw their exhibition dedicated to explaining this mystery.

How museums get new objects – the exhibition

The Army Museum’s exhibition was in their temporary exhibition space on the ground floor. I liked the focus on objects for visitors to reflect on and practical examples. Also the emphasis on who made decisions.

Exhibition sign saying who made decisions

A key part of the exhibition was an infographic showing the path an object follows to join the collection. Unfortunately this was in a shadow so whilst legible in the museum didn’t photograph well. This was supported by another display explaining who makes the decisions.

Flow chart of accessioning object

This display was very honest about the influence of individuals and groups on collecting policy. It stated that in the museum’s early days former soldiers were making the decisions but now it’s mainly highly educated middle class people.

Display showing who makes decisions

An object that didn’t get in

An example of new objects was based around items used by an officer in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Most items were conserved ready to go into the collection. One item was not and this was the shipping crate the officer had lived in. Why was it rejected? Because it wasn’t the actual container the officer used but one the shipping company sent. So a good example of an object being rejected because of a lack of direct association with the museum’s purpose and lacking heritage authenticity.

Legionary 2017 – Exeter games show

The annual wargames show in Exeter

This year’s show lived up to expectations. Plenty of great looking games spread across history with quite a few non historical games. The Star Wars competition looked spectacular with all the space maps joined together. I was so impressed I forgot to take a photo!

A good variety of traders with plenty of stock meant temptation but I mostly managed to resist. And an impressive bring and buy where I got a couple of bargains.

Helms Deep besieged in Exeter

The Exmouth Imperial Wargames Club who run the show had a good looking siege of Helm’s Deep game. The fortress itself was very impressive with the stone beautifully painted. Talking of painting I was impressed to hear the elves had been painted for the game.

The elves in the siege of Helms Deep game

Napoleonics in America

Another game that caught my eye was Graham Cookson’s War of 1812 game. The smoke effect on the rocket team looked most convincing!

British rocket team firing

Catching up

As usual the show was a great opportunity to catch up with people. I had my annual chat with Martin Goddard from Peter the Pig who seems to be making the Russian army of the Second World War on a 1:1 basis.

I was interested to hear from Helion Books that Bicorne Miniatures are to release a set of figures depicting the Royalist Oxford Army. Good news for English Civil War collectors.

I look forward to next year’s show

Magic Lantern Slides at Hove Museum & Art Gallery

a magic lantern slide showing a learned cat

 The optical, film and cinema collection at Hove Museum

While exploring Hove museum I was really impressed by the two galleries dedicated to their optical toys, devices, film and cinema collection. A great mix of stories, machines, objects and historic films playing in a tiny cinema. Part of this collection includes magic lantern slides and a fine selection of projectors.

Why magic lantern slides?

At work (Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery) there’s a research project about the museum’s magic lantern slide collection. The A Million Pictures  project is international in scope involving museums and universities. Part of this includes digitising and adding the slides to the museum’s database and collections website. Being involved in this project kindled an interest in magic lantern slides as social history and as objects in their own right.

Assisting my more learned colleagues with slide shows at museum events added fuel to the fire. Thinking of fuel we used an electric light rather than anything more inflammable and exciting. From this my interest in both slides and projectors has grown.

Photo of myself Ready to be a projector's assistant

Ready to be a projector’s assistant


The collection at Hove Museum

Finding a gallery with lots of magic lantern slides related content was a lovely surprise. There were full size projectors along with smaller ones for home use and even toy ones. A two lens (biunial) projector from the 1870s was very impressive. The brass was gleaming and the wood glowing with polish.  A later projector was displayed with its case and accessories showing how bulky these were.

By way of contrast small projectors for home use and toy projectors were displayed, These also had slide mounts and strips of images with them. The strips of images often had amusing images for home entertainment on. There is also an impressive backlit wall of slides to give an idea of the variety of subjects found. I didn’t look at every one but could have happily done so!


If you’re in the Brighton and Hove area I recommend a visit to Hove Museum and Art Gallery





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