Conservation of Captain William Siborne’s remarkable model of the battlefield of Waterloo is now underway at the Royal Armouries in Leeds.

Conservation Live! of the miniature soldiers of Waterloo.
Conservation Live! of the miniature soldiers of Waterloo.

The model, which was completed in 1843, shows – in marvellous detail – the battlefield as it was at around 1:30pm on 18 June 1815. It is more than five metres long and two metres wide, and it comes apart into ten sections. The battlefield is populated by more than 3,000 finely modelled and painted lead figures including soldiers, horses and artillery.

sibornemodel
Section of the model before conservation.

The model has been on display at the Royal Armouries since 1996. Now, in advance of the bicentenary of the battle, it is being dismantled and conserved piece by piece as part of a Conservation Live! programme.

Cleaning the thousands of models on the battlefield is a slow and careful process.
Cleaning the thousands of models on the battlefield is a slow and careful process.
British soldiers in miniature - look closely and you can see their individual faces!
British soldiers in miniature – look closely and you can see their individual faces!
A Waterloo soldier supports his wounded companion.
A Waterloo soldier supports his wounded companion.
The detail on each figure has to be seen to be believed.
The detail on each figure has to be seen to be believed.
Conservator Cymbeline Storey working on the model.
Conservator Cymbeline Storey working on the model.

From March until May 1st 2015 museum visitors can meet the Conservator, discuss the conservation programme and watch conservation of the model taking place. At 11:00 and 2:00 visitors can attend talks with the Conservator, which is ticketed due to limited access, or simply drop in between 2:30-3:30pm. For more information on how to take part please ring the Royal Armouries on 0113 220 1999 or email enquiries@armouries.org.uk. Alternatively, keep your eye out for further blog posts over the next few months as conservation work progresses

Cymbeline Storey
Waterloo Model Conservator