Friday 25 January 2019


This post on the building known as Trimiotou (but spelt in various ways) has been particularly interesting to research largely because it has virtually no information directly available.  I would particularly like to thank 'Deadhead' and Tango 01 (Armand) from The Miniatures Page (TMP) in helping me with my research.  I gave an earlier preview of the building on 'Reinforcements' but with new information provided by them, amendments have been made to the main building at the southern end and a barn added at the north end.

Just to the south of La Belle Alliance and on the other side of the road there now sits a building called La Saline Restaurant.

La Saline from the north looking south.  The lean-to present in 2019 would not have been there in 1815.

 No such building gets a mention in contemporary sources of the battle.  And yet a review of contemporary maps indicates that something called Trimiotou or Trimotion was at the same place.

Siborne's map.  Trimotion sounds like an English rendering of the French name.

The maps would indicate something as large, if not larger, than La Belle Alliance.
This contemporary water colour of La Belle Alliance by Denis Dighton, which looks eastwards, definitely shows a longer building in trees in the place marked Trimotion on the maps
Siborne's model quite clearly shows it and, again, indicates that it is longer than La Belle Alliance.
This grainy, distant shot shows the creamy render of La Belle Alliance on the left, Trimiotou further south in the centre of the picture and then Decoster's house much further away in the top right of the picture
 So what did the building look like at the time of Waterloo?  One of the problems with Siborne is that he simplified his models - for instance, the lean-to bakery on the side of La Belle Alliance is clearly missing.

This photograph shows a gently sloping roof at the southern end of the building - I believe this may have existed in 1815 - it isn't shown by Siborne, but that may be because he simplified his buildings.  Based on this evidence, this sloping roof at the southern end is included in my model.
This picture mentions both La Belle Alliance and Decoster's (Costa's) house in its caption but does not mention Trimiotou, despite clearly showing it - this picture indicates a small barn at its north end and shows that the roof of the main building was in two pitches
This suggests the same, although the number of chimneys varies between one, two and three
The barn is even clearer here.

Given all these pictures show a barn at the north end of Trimiotou and that there is a dual pitch roof, how can this be reconciled with Siborne's model which doesn't show this?  My view is that either Siborne chose to simplify the north end, or that the north end took such a battering that it was rebuilt after the battle, and the barn removed before Siborne carried out his survey.

This Denis Dighton watercolour indicates quite a few trees around its west side

There is now a large barn behind Trimiotou which didn't exist when Siborne made his model.  Like the new barn at the north end of La Belle Alliance, we can presume that it was built after Waterloo, perhaps a few years before this Victorian photograph.

Google Earth provides a useful way of comparing the length of the modern La Saline (Trimiotou) with La Belle Alliance  - the former is 30.23 metres long.  The new large barn can be seen at the southern end and did not exist in 1815.

And La Belle Alliance (without its new barn) is 25.17 metres in length.
Given all this evidence I conclude that:

  • A building called Trimiotou did exist at the time of the battle
  • It was roughly the length it is now
  • It had a sloping roof at its southern end
  • It has since been simplified at the north end and a lean-to added which wasn't there in 1815
  • It sat in a hedged enclosure with trees
So given all that, here is the building with its barn:

From the north looking south

Dismounted Carabinier officer seeks refreshment.  The damage to the roof reflects the considerable amount of ordnance that came in from the direction of Plancenoit.  Napoleon, who was initially further down the road at Decoster's house  before moving to La Belle Alliance, upbraided the peasant Decoster for ducking every time a cannon ball came by.  Clearly the Emperor conceded nothing to his unenthusiastic guide whose first battle must have been a terrifying experience.

From the south looking north showing the sloped roof at the southern end.

The west side

The barn - it is hard to tell if the barn was thatched or tiled - given its subsequent destruction, I've gone with thatch to suggest a less substantial building.  For the same reason, the walls are wood, not stone or brick.

Street view

I intend to develop the idea of the barn catching fire.
I'm presently working on two battalions of the Guard who will be marching up the road past Trimiotou towards Wellington's position.  It remains something of a mystery to me where Baron Larrey's Casualty Clearing Station was, but this seems a likely spot - if any one knows I'd be grateful.

Saturday 19 January 2019


Hot on the heels of my La Belle Alliance post, I've been working on two further battalions, plus the building just to the south of the inn - Trimiotou which is, in turn, just north of Decoster's house.  One battalion is of Grenadiers, the other of Chasseurs.

This is very much 'in progress' and shows my way of working.  The figures are a mixture of Hat, Schilling and Rose, with a few others.  They are at various stages of completion so still look quite scruffy.  Their common feature is that they will all be in campaign order, summer dress.

They are presently advancing in battalion column of companies, but will be in column of route on the model, when built.

An Art Miniaturen officer

Unfinished pioneers, Hat and Schilling.

Strelets and Kennington band at the front

Franznap Drum Major

The two mounted officers are Franznap conversions.  The building is done in the same style as La Belle Alliance with the type of tiles commonly found in Belgium and shown on the Dighton picture of La Belle Alliance.  The tiles are made from a corrugated card used for packaging.  Trimiotou is, frustratingly, never shown close up and has to be imagined from the distant images that exist.

Trimiotou has a barn perpendicular to the house - under construction.  This will be shown with considerable damage and thatched.

Some 850 figures

Second band

I like this General, think he's Legio

The Esci casualty pair, converted to be a drummer

A Falcata conversion

Rear of the building, two officers use their telescopes.  The infantry officer is a conversion from the Esci Russian Crimean artillery officer.  The Dragoon is Italeri.  The buildings are made of card and painted with acrylics.

Sunday 13 January 2019

A Question of Scale

To borrow someone else's phrase, the challenge of constructing a diorama of Waterloo is really a question of scale.  To keep to 20mm scale requires a model One Centimetre to the Metre, but unless one has a big enough space and enough figures for every soldier present on the battle (some 180,000), this is simply impractical.

However, to condense the model too much is to fail to convey the distances involved on a Napoleonic battlefield: even for one as compact as Waterloo, distance explains many otherwise illogical parts to the story - the neglect by Napoleon of Hougoumont, the hidden fight at Papelotte, the difficulty of knowing what was happening on Wellington's reverse slope, the length of time it took to realise the mortal threat posed by the Prussians at Plancenoit.

For these reasons, I have always found the Winchester model unconvincing from a military perspective, even if it provides a splendid spectacle.  By contrast, the Siborne model in the National Army Museum is too square and has too much empty space in the corners - it fails to give visual impact even if it is a triumph of topographical exactitude.

So in order to strike a balance between accuracy and impact I have produced an octagonal plan showing the battlefield without the empty corners:

Dark blue = 140m grid line; light blue, 130; green, 120; yellow, 110.  I have removed the four corners and will compromise with the positions of Papelotte and Plancenoit, pulling them slightly to the west to fit them in.  The plan is then gridded with each rectangle equal to one of my existing blocks.

Then, taking advantage of some winter sunshine, I  put my four existing models (Hougoumont, La Haie Sainte, Papelotte and La Belle Alliance out and then deployed my various squares.

The results are somewhat underwhelming and serve to show how much more has to be done, but what it does achieve is a sense of scale.

Hougoumont in the foreground

From roughly where Plancenoit will be


La Belle Alliance with Hougoumont at  ten o'clock and La Haie Sainte at two o' clock

La Haie Sainte looking west with squares behind

Looking east

La Haie Sainte towards Papelotte

La Haie Sainte south to La Belle Alliance

Papelotte towards La Haie Sainte
La Belle Alliance north to La Haie Sainte

La Belle Alliance towards Papelotte

La Belle Alliance towards Hougoumont
This has been a useful planning exercise for me, but I can't claim it will win many plaudits for excitement - the overriding impression is of a lot of lawn in winter.  Fortunately it didn't rain, which looked a distinct possibility at one point!  As with any good Napoleonic commander, a telescope would have been handy.