The Battle of Waterloo



The Battle of waterloo was filmed in 1913 at Irthlingborough and was one of the biggest films of its day. It was made by an American named Charles Weston and he chose the location because the real Duke of Wellington, on visiting the area commented that the countryside resembled the battlefield at Waterloo.


The film was made for, what was then, a huge sum of £5000. The main characters were played by major actors but the cavalry were soldiers from Weedon Barracks and the foot soldiers were all local shoe factory workers. So great was the interest in Irthlingborough, that the shoe factories all had to close while the workers were earning 7/6p a day as extras.


Weston made a total of seven films in and around Irthlingborough but the 1914 war seems to have prevented the town from becoming the centre of the film industry for this country.


It was thought that all of the films had been lost forever but Irthlingborough Historical Society managed to trace all that remains of the ‘Battle of Waterloo’ at the British Film Industry Archive in London and we now have a copy that has been shown on several occasions to the delight of packed audiences. The following ‘stills’ are from the publicity for the film and some may recognise Napoleons Headquarters as the buildings behind the former Civic Hall, just off High Street.


The 9th June 2013 was the 100th anniversary of the start of filming and to celebrate that event, we have published an exact replica of the top quality brochure of photographic stills that was given to the VIPs attending the premiere at the London Palladium.


This collector’s item was produced using the methods of 1913 and boxed as a limited edition of 100, priced at £30 each plus post and packing.


These can be purchased using the application form which is available at the library, Toni’s Newsagents, Born and Bread and the Salvation Army Shop.


The 9th June 2013, saw a live display about the battle on the green by the cross with soldiers from the 44th Regiment Group and the Waterloo Drummers. Those attending enjoyed a great display !


Irthlingborough has had a few encounters with the film industry, with parts of the TV series ‘Hunters Walk’ and much of ‘Love for Lydia’ (The HE Bates story of the same name) being filmed here.


In honour of the connection with the local cinema which was affectionately known as ‘Watts’ cinema’ and which closed in the 1960’s we have agreement to erect  two plaques on the site of the former cinema in January 2009 and a notice board, commemorating all of our contacts with the industry in the local library.