The History of the 501st UK Garrison

Written by the late Graham Campbell

Wednesday, March 21, 2001

In 1997 I [Graham Campbell] purchased a Stormtrooper costume. I took a huge risk at the time as no-one in the UK could vouch for them or buying on the Internet, it cost me $800 for the armour alone. Within weeks I started to compile a website aimed at helping other UK residents to purchase armour and to give them assurances that a purchase of this nature could be made securely.
The first site was called TroopersRus.8m.com, it was themed in 'Green' with many shots of my costume, it got approx 20-30 hits per week, nothing major, but it was my pride and joy!!

The same year I got in touch with 3 UK residents who also purchased, they were Simon Prince, Darren Horley & John May (who at the time was part of the Fan-Garrison pages). I convinced them to join my site and appear as TroopersRus members, the Garrison was now in embryo form.

In 1998/1999 I was contacted by other people who had found the website and were interested in buying armour, Phil Clarke & Steve Carter, they subsequently bought their armour and added their names to the site. At the same time Richard Stratford contacted me to also become a part of the site. At this time I realised that we were increasing our numbers very slowly, I started work on the new TroopersRus site, which was on-line in 1999 called TroopersRus2.8m.com, this site was more like the Garrison you all know.

After gaining another few members over 1999 I applied to the 501st for Garrison status, they denied this request stating that I must initially have 10 members, over the next 3 months I put everything into getting us to the magic 10 member status, we achieved this in February 2000 (I had already designed and created the new site in anticipation of this monumentous event).

So on 23rd March 2000, the UK Garrison was born, we started with 1478 hits on the site, made up from the previous 2 sites totals and we started something totally original and new in the UK.

I spoke at length with 'key' members as to my goals for the group, Richard, Phil & John discussed these issues, I did state at the time that I had a vision, where we would attend the biggest, most professional events in the UK . I also remember saying that we would be on TV, Press etc., Richard also at the time agreed with me that if we really wanted it, we could achieve great things, we knew at the time that this was dreaming, but...

Our website now has over 35,500 hits, averaging approx 400-600 per week, we have created a sub-site called VaderMaker.com which has been accepted world-wide as 'the' premier Vader costuming resource.

We currently receive approx 40-70 mails per week, we have more than doubled our members total in less than 1 year, we have attended some of the UK's premier events such as...
Autographica - Memorabilia - Art of Star Wars (London) - Jedi-con (Not so Premiere!) - RIM Advertising Conferences - Art of Star Wars (Bradford).

We are regarded as The Premier Costuming Group the UK has ever seen, in the beginning I had to force organisers to give us a chance, now they come to us!!, fans love us, organisers love us, we are going from strength to strength and that's no exaggeration!!

But we still have bigger plans, I want to see us at The Art of Star Wars 2002, I want to see us get more publicity, we have just signed a deal for National advertising via Memorabilia outlet, I have plans for us to appear on Television this year as an entire group, I have a brand new Star Wars event I am helping to organise which should take off this year and will be the BIGGEST Star Wars event the UK has ever seen!

I estimate another 7 new members before the end of June, we will also have another new website to join the established UK Garrison & VaderMaker sites before March 2002.

We now have our own Executive Officer in Phil Clarke who is heavily involved in all promotion, I have seen just how much you each enjoy the buzz of this thing we call 'trooping.'

I am a proud man, to see what we have achieved is truly awesome, it started so small and so simple and it has become a monster, it is growing faster that I could ever have imagined.

I wanted to share my thoughts with each of you, when we think of our Garrison, let's be immensely proud of what we are a part of, Memorabilia marked a point in history for us, but on the 23rd is the REAL achievement.

I hope you will all be a part of our ever-increasing success!

You are the men of the Imperial Army, Let's go to work...

Graham Campbell

UK Garrison Commanding Officer - Captain / TK150-7 / VaderMaker