Ambitious new plans unveiled for historic Battle of Waterloo site
May 22nd, 2017. \\ Culture.

The owners of a historic site on the outskirts of Brussels have outlined ambitious plans to further develop the site.

The Mont-Saint-Jean farm is located on the site of the battlefield of Waterloo.

After years of decay it was carefully restored and is now attracting large number of visitors.

However, the owners believe it still has great potential for further development and hope that a newly-signed public-private partnership (PPP) with the local province of Brabant Wallon will contribute towards achieving this.

Some €15m has already been invested on restoring the site to its former glory and locally-based Anthony R. Martin, whose company owns the site, has unveiled new plans for the future.

These include a luxury hotel, workshop, park and lush gardens together with a playground and picnic area.

The proposals were outlined at a news conference on 16 May.

One of the aims is to not only boost the number of visitors, mostly day trippers, to the site but to encourage people to stay longer than they normally do at present.

The site also includes a fine brasserie, just reopened for the summer season and with sweeping views of the Waterloo battlefield, and a small, well-stocked museum containing a unique collection of some of the instruments used by surgeons in the battle itself, plus many other related items.

One of the plans is to expand the collection and introduce a similar collection of ancient agriculture appliances.

The owners say the newly-agreed PPP is the best means by which to achieve their objectives.

They also expressed interest in “working more closely” with the owners of the Waterloo Memorial and Napoleon’s last headquarters, which are both located nearby.

The site lies on the busy N5 road which connects Brussels to Charleroi.

The site’s fame dates back to the fighting of June 18, 1815 – the Battle of Waterloo - during which the farm of Mont-Saint-Jean served as a military hospital, mostly to the English troops.

After the bloody battle, and for nearly four days, local doctors and surgeons operated on about 6,000 allied soldiers and performed numerous amputations, all without anesthesia.

For years, a vicinal tramway line passed in front of the farm, as can be seen on old postcards.

In 1906, the farm, then in a bad state of disrepair, was threatened for the first time with demolition.

A part of the farm - the facades and roofs of the porch tower and attached stables - has been classified as a historic monument since January 1995.

In September 2014, a microbrewery for the brewing of the famous “Waterloo beer” (Double Brown, Triple Blonde, Imperial Cuvée and Harvest) was introduced.

On June 19, 2015, the renovated farm was inaugurated by the Duke of Wellington, the Prince of Waterloo.

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Martin Banks is a highly experienced accredited journalist with many years experience of working with the EU institutions. He is an occasional contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

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