Rose Miniatures of South-East London was best known for its extensive range
of 54mm figures, but the company also produced a small range of 20/25mm figures,
designed by owner Russell Gammage.
Gammage was born in 1920 in Ipswich workhouse. He served in the Royal Navy
during World War 2 (he was invalided out) and married Mary who was to
play an active role in promoting Rose Miniatures in 1945. He studied
Design in Illustration at London College and later qualified as an art teacher.
While still at college he contributed a number of figure designs to the Cotswold
Tradition stand at the Festival of Britain.
Gammage co-designed his first figures (with Colonel JBR Nicholson- later editor
of Tradition), a set commemorating the Coronation, for Graham Farish in 1953.
After designing various other 65mm (O gauge) figures for Farish and the model
train manufacturer Bassett-Lowke he set up his own company. He continued to
teach art part-time and carry out industrial design commissions and also took
night classes in gold and silver work at the Central School of.Arts and Crafts
Like Marcus and Cynthia Hinton, the Gammages were a husband and wife business
team. Though Russell was widely regarded as one of the best designers of his
era it was Mary who seemed to make the bigger impression. "Russell was
a small man who gave the impression of being permanently worried," John
Tunstill recalls. "I met him a few times," Cameron Robinson says,
"But all I remember was that he was keen on fishing"
"My impression of Mrs Gammage is that she was much larger than he was,"
John Tunstill says, "But perhaps that was because of her character. She
was a very exacting woman. If Russell sold you something for £1, 2 shillings
and 6 _ -pence his wife would make sure he got the _ pence".
Rose Miniatures traded from various Gammage homes in Plumstead and Charlton
and figures were also sold through the shop Regimental in Berkeley Street W1.
Though the 20mm range was launched around 1963-4, Gammage had produced at least
two "one inch" wargame figures as far back as 1957, making him arguably
the first British maker of gaming miniatures. The subjects were a Waterloo British
Infantryman (WG1) and a French Napoleonic Guard (WG2). They cost 9d each. These
figures appear to have become the basis of the later range with the figure codes
changed to BR1 and FR1 respectively. "They were so flat they were almost
semi-rounds," John Tunstill observes, "but the advancing pose with
the rifle held out in front gave them a square look when viewed from certain
A mounted figure of the Duke of Wellington (BR5) that dates from this earlier
period and is mentioned by Garratt seems to have been dropped at some point.
In 1965 the Rose 20mm range included Napoleonics (French, British and Austrians)
and ACW subjects. Infantry, cavalry and artillery were produced for both periods.
Charles Grant writes of them in his book The Wargame, "A very high standard
in design and finish, these figures deserve to be better known than they are".
In Wargamers Newsletter Don Featherstone noted "These figures fit
in excellently with those of Hinton Hunt and Miniature Figurines [HO/OO]. The
range of Napoleonic cavalry are to my mind the best of their type".
In 1966 WW1 British infantry and Waterloo British artillerymen were added.
In 1973 a small Zulu War range was launched. There were five British infantry
and four Zulus, the latter described by Ian Knight, in an article on Zulu figures
that appeared in a c1980 issue of The Courier, as "a bit flat".
Garratt also mentions an English Civil War range that was issued around this
time, while Featherstone mentions two American War of Independence foot figures.
We have come across no evidence of these.
Both Grant and Knight describe the Rose figures as 20mm and though the company
itself tended to designate them as 25mm castings. Some confusion may result
from the figures having "grown" over the years. Certainly George Gush
in A Guide To Wargaming notes of Rose "early figures are 20mm". A
photograph in Garratts Collecting Model Soldiers shows two examples. They
are the same height as the Hinton Hunt figures they are grouped amongst.
Later infantry figures are mounted on round bases roughly 1.5cms in diameter.
The name Rose and the serial number are clearly stamped on the underside. However,
the early Napoleonic figures were on narrow rectangular bases with Rose scratched
onto them along with the serial number in the manner of Miniature Figurines.
In the late 1980s Russell Gammage sold his business. Mary died in 1990 and
after that Russell appears to have returned to Ipswich. He died in his hometown
Jim Robinson of Fusilier Miniatures, Littlehampton (see also Les Higgins article)
bought the 54mm figures. Fusilier now trade under the name Rose Military Miniatures.
Mr Robinson told us that the smaller figures were not included with the 54s
and that he believed these were sold separately to Anders Lindstrom of Stockholm,
who currently markets the Tradition 25mm and 30mm ranges. Colonel Lindstrom,
however, says that this is not the case. "I certainly didnt buy the
Rose range and too the best of my recollection I wasnt offered them to
buy," he told us (The Swede did however buy the Hinton Hunt Range at around
Mr Robinson also told us that he believed Gammage had retired to the South
of France. According to John Tunstill this is unlikely, "Russell was quite
ill. I dont think he would have moved abroad. Though, of course, Edward
Suren did retire to Provence in the 1980s".
In the early 1990s Steve Thompson of SKT in Twyford, at that time makers of
the Garrison (Greenwood & Ball) range, advertised some of the smaller Rose
figures (30mm as well as the 20/25mm) for sale. We asked Thompson where he had
obtained the masters. He told us he had bought them "from a bloke on the
south coast near Southampton". We asked if that bloke was Jim Robinson
of Rose Military Miniatures (formerly Fusilier Miniatures) of Littlehampton.
Steve Thompson replied, "Yes".
As they say on Seinfeld, go figure!
According to Thompson the Napoleonic and Zulu War 20/25mm figures were not
included amongst the masters he purchased. These did though include the ACW
range and a range of Ancients Egyptians, Assyrians, Greeks and Persians.
We have been able to find no reference to these Ancient figures in any catalogue,
magazine or book. It seems probable that the masters were made but never put
into production, or that they were produced very late on in the companys
SKT sold out to Paisley Miniatures towards the end of the decade and eighteen
months later Paisley in turn sold out to Amazon Miniatures.
Amazon have been working hard on cataloguing the full SKT range, a mammoth
task. At the time of writing (March 2004) the ancient range, marketed as New
Prestige, some of the 30mm and a few of the 20mm Napoleonics have been located.
The Ancient figures are beautifully made and realistically slender figures,
which, judging from their rather inactive poses, were probably aimed more at
the collector than the wargamer.
Hopefully the Zulu War and ACW will turn up soon.