While the bulk of the action in my alternate 1930s scenario will take place away from the British Isles, the idea of creating an English town in miniature is quite appealing. Not only is there the "Dad's Army" factor I would like to include in my games, but one of my earliest wargame memories is the Terry Wise series of articles on Operation Sea Lion in Airfix Magazine (1975-76). I distinctly remember his modelling a gun emplacement disguised as an ice cream kiosk and similar items, and I told myself I would do that one day.
It turns out that in fact memory failed me and it was actually a pillbox disguised... but there was a mock-building with a gun-turret inside it. The coastal fortifications article can be found included in this blog post and the series on Sea Lion itself is available on the Vintage Wargaming blog... the Internet is a truly wonderful thing!
Operation Sea Lion has always been an interest of mine and I am fairly sure I have pretty much every book written on it. As I have opted for a German-free alternate history scenario however, the French will have to step up to the mark in their stead.
I have opted for Walmington-on-Sea as the model for my English town. It is fictitious, yet the street plan is available. As I possess the Dad's Army DVD box set, I also have all the reference material I need to work with too. Being a creation, the town is somewhat simplistic in its design, in comparison to a real one. It will do double service as an inland town (the outside scenes in the series were actually filmed in Thetford), so as a single project it ticks all the boxes.
The Very British Civil War phenomenon has inspired a number of companies to produce buildings and other scenic items, which means that life is a lot easier than when the HO/OO Airfix cottage was about the only English building around. Sadly I am led to believe that particular old-school wargaming staple is no longer with us.
In 20mm of course you are spoiled for choice, with all the model railway scenery around, even if some of it is a bit expensive. For those who prefer to produce their own items, building accessories, 'roofing card' and all sorts of items, even down to period vehicles, are also fairly readily available. Red phone and post boxes, telegraph poles, you name it, can all be found. Somewhat oddly I find that British items are actually far more easily acquired than American ones... with all things being equal you might imagine 'old-timey' U.S. Plasticville style things might be far more common than they are.
Besides Walmington itself, I plan to construct outlying farms and other scenic items. After all the bulk of fighting would typically take place outside of built up areas. That being said Southern England is fairly densely populated and it would be difficult to find a stretch of land which does not have at least one building on it.