Ever wanted to get away, and play Warhammer 40k all day? In spring this year, Environmental Manager Jon Owens, 39, turned converted shipping containers into a Warhammer gaming space where you can eat, sleep, and play miniature games nonstop, without having to worry about clearing away tables, finishing a match before end of day, or the sounds and smells of a crowded hobby store.
“Here in the UK, the distinct lack of space means we don’t really have room for gaming rooms at home, or to leave tables set-up,” Owens explains. So he created the Hobby Haven in his native Worcestershire, England. By May 2022, Owens had transformed converted shipping containers into a gaming hall with 12 feet of tables, boxes of scenery, plenty of board games, and also a kitchen and bunk room for four people
“It’s basically the place I’d want to go and stay in with my mates for a geek retreat weekend,” Owens says. “But no one else was doing it so I built it myself!”
He adds that the Hobby Haven is intended to provide “some quality dice-rolling with friends, without being limited by retail opening hours, or the restrictions of how big your dining table is at home.”
“Over the years I’ve played 40k, Fantasy, Blood Bowl, Necromunda and some real classics like Gorka Morka. And the enduring theme was playing on fold-out tables, carpets, or the board that my dad built my brother and me, that folded out onto a bed – wobbly model syndrome at its best! So the idea of having a ‘proper’ gaming space has been in the back of my mind for 30+ years.”
While Owens had the concept in his head for years, he started to take the idea of a Warhammer 40k holiday space seriously during lockdown, while looking for somewhere suitable for his own wargaming getaway. Finding a venue that wouldn’t break the bank was no easy feat, and after six months of searching, it would take another six months to convert the shipping containers, which were used by a local farmer to run LAN gaming some 20 years ago.
“It took blood, sweat and tears to get it all tidied up and up to spec for the venue, but the end result is just what I had in mind,” Owens says, as well as the help of the farmer to create adjustable gaming tables, and Urbanmatz to provide a grab bag of terrain and scenery.
Marketing the Hobby Haven was quite the challenge: “It’s the double-edged sword of no one having done a residential venue quite like this before in the UK!” But Owens says the feedback he’s had “has been brilliantly positive.”
“My customers so far have raved about how much fun they had – apart from having a bit of a sore head by the end of the weekend. The local Worcester group have had some days at the venue too, all saying how cool the place is.”