The History of the Wellingtons
The Wellington boot, also known as galoshes, rubber-boots, welly, wellies, gumboots, topboots, or rainboots were originally based upon Hessian boots. It was brought to life by the 1st Duke of Wellington who instructed his shoemaker, Hoby of St. James's Street, London, to modify the 18th century Hessian boot. The boot was designed of soft calfskin leather which stopped at mid-calf closely fitting around the leg proving hard-wearing for battle. The boots quickly caught on with the British gentlemen who idolized this war hero. They were considered fashionable and they remained the must have fashion for men right through the 1840's. The boot thus became known, in British English, by its proponent: Wellington.
However in 1852 an American named Hiram Hutchinson met Charles Goodyear, who just invented the vulcanization process of natural rubber. Hutchinson was fascinated by the discovery. While Goodyear went on to manufacture the famous tyres, Hutchinson bought the patent to manufacture footwear. Hutchinson moved to France starting the company "Aigle" (Eagle) after the American Eagle to remind him of the USA. This introduction of a welly type boot was an instant success, 95% of the population in France were working in fields wearing wooden clogs.
The History of Hunter Boot Wellingtons
In January 1856 we are about to see the birth of Hunter Boots, with thanks to a Mr. Henry Lee Norris an American entrepreneur from Jersey City, New Jersey, and his friend and partner Spencer Thomas Parmelee of New Haven, Connecticut, landed on Scottish soil for the purpose of working a patent of Charles Goodyear for the manufacture of India-rubber overshoes and boots. The two gentlemen began their search of a home for this boot making company. That September after having acquired a block of buildings in Edinburgh, known as the Castle Silk Mills, the North British Rubber Company now known as Hunter Boots was officially registered as a limited liability company in September 1857, with only four members of staff.
The popularity of his Wellington boots were growing and by 1875 the team had grown to 600 members of staff. Production of Wellington Boots was dramatically boosted again with the advent of World War I. The company was asked by the War Office to construct a sturdy boot suitable for the conditions in flooded trenches. The mills ran day and night to produce immense quanities of these trench boots. In total, 1,185,036 pairs were made to cope with the Army's demands. This fashionable boot was now a functional necessity.
At the outbreak of World War II in September, 80% of the North British Rubber Company's production was for war materials - from ground sheets to life belts and gas masks. By the end of the war rationing laborers began to wear the rubber boots for everyday work, this is how the Wellington had become popular among men and women for use in wet weather. This lead to the birth of Hunter's most famous Welly, the Original Green Wellington, made over 50 years ago in the winter of 1955.
After WWII, to keep up with demand the company needed to move to a larger factor in Heathhall, Dumfries. Hunter's new home was a factory originally built for Arrol-Johnston a Scottish automible manufacture. This was the first factory in Britain and reportedly a copy of the Ford factory at Highland Park Michigan to use concrete reinforced with metal in its construction. In 1955 this is were the most famous welly would be born, The Original Green Wellington. The Original boot remains Hunter best seller today.
In 1966, North British Rubber was bought by Uniroyal Limited of Greenville, South Carolina. Formerly known as the U.S. Rubber Company. In 1976, having continued to supply wellies to the Royal Households, Hunter was awarded a Royal Warrant from HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. This was shortly followed, in 1986, by a Royal Warrant from HM The Queen. Providing great recognition for their work in keeping some very important feet dry! By the late 1980's a pair of Hunter Originals worn by Lady Diana Spencer in her engagement photographs, sparks a fashion spurge. Hunters were to see history repeating itself once again by becoming an essential item for those guided in upmarket country fashion. However Lady Diana was not the first royal Princess Anne, at the height of her royal fame, commissioned the Hunter boot company to make her a pair of bespoke black Hunters (the only person the company ever permitted to do so).
1986 the company saw another change of ownership from the company, as Uniroyal was purchased by Gates Rubber Company of Denver, Colorado. The company's fortunes continued to improve over the years and in 1996, Gates Corporation, formerly The Gates Rubber Company, became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tomkins Plc. Tomkins paid a reported £366m for the stake and at the time Gates was the largest non-tyre rubber company in the world. Tomkins soon began to streamline its activities by disposing a number of businesses during 1998-2001. In 1999 the Consumer and Industrial Division of Gates was sold to Interfloor, the UKs largest carpet underlay manufacturer. The company became the Hunter Division of Interfloor.
In 2004 the management of the Hunter Division of Interfloor, together with external investors, funded a management buy-out for the Hunter Boots business for £1.98m and the company became the Hunter Rubber Co Ltd.
By 2006 the ownership of the company was changed again and Hunter Boot Ltd was born. The Welly has always been regarded as a "Symbol of British Country Life" and was now about to become a Style Icon. Hunters were launched back in to the spotlight with great force when Kate Moss was photographed at one of the world's largest music festivals known as "Glastonbury" wearing a set of Hunter Original Black Wellingtons. Market research showed that this had such an impact on Hunters that the Original Black welly saw an increase by 85% against the same period the year prior.
Hunters has formed many relationships and collaborations with other brands like fellow Royal Warrant brand Fortnum &
Mason to create a new style classic: the eau de nil Wellington Boot, Royal Horticultural Society, Wateraid, Cowshed, and Hunters most recent limited edition collaboration with Jimmy Choo. This was to hit the fashion scene with a bang, announcing that they were producing the most luxurious Wellington boots on earth. To date Hunters have even expanded the Original Wellington Boots colour pallet, you can buy Silver, Gold, White, Original Gloss and Fuchsia to just name a few. They have the New Hunter Balmoral range, for Sporting, Working and Shooting. This is why they truly are "Outstanding in Every Field". Target Wholesale are Official Hunter Boot Stockists .