Malvern Militaria Fair
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- Last updated: 19/02/2019
I have lost count the number of times people have told me how they became interested in re-enactment by way of militaria collecting. It is a familiar tale, how, after having obtained an item of uniform, the collector tries it on to get a ‘feel’ for the garment. It may be a tunic or a military cap, but, once put on and it feels right, there is no turning back and things just fall into place as the interest of militaria collecting and reenactment slot together.
Some organisers of militaria fairs have seen an expansion in the size of their event as a result of the association. One such event, where this amalgamation between collecting and re-enactment can best be seen, is at the biannual Malvern Indoor Militaria Fair, held at the Three Counties Showground, Wye Hall (Brown Gate), Malvern, Worcs. WR13 6NW. I was invited to visit the Malvern Fair on the 18th of November 2018 by Amanda, who, along with her husband, Graham Lycett, have been organising the event for past 20-years, and what an event it was.
Amanda and Graham also run Jeeparts UK, based at The Old Coach Yard, Church Lane, Little Tey, Colchester, Essex CO6 1HX (jeeparts.co.uk). As if that were not enough to keep them busy, they also organise the Stoneleigh Militaria Fair in Coventry. I caught up with Amanda at Malvern, who found time to answer my questions in between answering other queries from several directions at once.
Amanda explained how, despite having no direct family connection with the military, she and her husband took naturally to the organising of militaria fairs, to meet the interests of collectors who enjoy the hobby. The twice-yearly event proved extremely popular, leading to Stoneleigh Militaria Fair being established. The Malvern event in November attracted 260 traders, dealing in all manner of collectables, from books to complete uniforms and deactivated weapons. Most of the trade stands were inside, making it a perfect venue for all weather; for those few who chose to be outside, they were not forgotten.
Entering the main building is like walking into a shopping centre dedicated to militaria collecting. As with shopping centres, there were the well-known traders, familiar to all collectors, alongside which there were the smaller traders and some who are only occasional traders. All interests at all levels were covered for the benefit of newest collector to the most experienced. The items on offer were of high quality and each trader maintains their reputation with this standard. The show is also an international venue, with traders attending from across Europe, who brought with them some very unusual and attractive items.
There were the well-known regular and familiar traders, such as Tiger Collectables (tigercollectables.co.uk), which reported good business. The Berkley-based Allied Forces Ltd, from Gloucestershire, specialising in canvas items for military vehicles, was attracting a lot of interest. The company also supplies canvas covers for a wide range of weapons from rifles to machine guns, which re-enactors will find useful. Visiting from the Netherlands was Rocksteady Militaria (rocksteady-militaria. com) which trades in original WWII German militaria.
A first time trader at the show was Germandot Militaria (germandotmilitaria. com) who trades in German militaria from WWI to the post-WWII years, when Germany was divided into East and West during the period of the ‘Cold War’. Items included maps, photographs, posters and other items which would compliment collections. The medals awarded by the former East German Government, many still in their presentation boxes, were very reasonably priced, making them an attractive option for novice militaria collectors to consider as a starting point. The venue is one specialist market and collectors and re-enactors alike must keep their eyes open, so as not to miss anything. For example, one trader was offering original French army sewing kits at a bargain price. These small items were fascinating to those collectors who specialise in the more unusual military kit.
Battledress and Bayonet (battledressandbayonet.com) had a range genuine items from WWII, along with a good selection of items to interest reenactors. The range of original items included WWII to modern kit, such as webbing equipment, which is of interest to collectors, including those who have just entered the fascinating world of militaria collecting. For re-enactors, there is a range of reproduction weapons available including PIAT, two-inch mortars and bayonets. The PIAT ammunition is painted in the identification markings for inert drill rounds and anti-tank purposes, which would look good on a static display or even for use in a battle re-enactment. The same applies for the mortars, which also includes the ‘Para’ version, with the shorter barrel. Details of these items can be found on the webpage, through which enquiries can be sent.
The Malvern event is well-attended and traders do good business, yet it has an unhurried atmosphere and traders always answer questions and general enquiries. This is a place where business and pleasure really do mix and people have time for one another. Even the company of MJL Militaria (mjlmilitaria.com), which specialises in legally deactivated weapons that meet the latest standards, was busy with collectors and re-enactors. Everybody was attended to and time was even found for my general enquiries. Available on the stand were some very unusual items, along with more familiar types. For Example, an M18 57mm RCL anti-tank rocket launcher, which I have only seen either in a museum or held by a re-enactor who obviously bought it as a collectable item.
The next Malvern event is being held on Sunday the 17th of March 2019; further details are available by either visiting the website at militariashows.com or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org Before that, however, on the 3rd of February 2019, there is the Stoneleigh Militaria Show, being held at the Exhibition Centre, Stoneleigh Park, Coventry CV8 2LZ, with doors open between 9am and 4pm. There is a special ‘Early bird’ entrance time at 8am, for those who like a bit more time. Amanda and Graham have created very special events in these shows, which, between them, satisfy the interests of collectors and re-enactors alike. The fairs also inspire other enthusiasts to join in and, who knows, perhaps they may go on to join the ranks of re-enactors through the common interest of militaria collecting.
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