All welly lovers know the story of Arthur Wellesley. Yes, that’s right, he’s fondly known as the Duke of Wellington. What an insightful chap he was to recognise that a waterproof boot for his troops could propel him triumphantly into a new era!
Dismayed as he was with soggy hessian footwear, which was your only footwear choice in 18th century, he longed for a solution to keep his hand knitted socks dry.
The clever Duke commissioned his shoemaker to produce a calfskin leather boot , treated with wax, thus rendering them waterproof. Yes, he concluded, these boots will certainly keep my foot soldier’s feet dry.
And what successful foot soldier’s they became. No footrot in his army. He reasoned that even if they did lose a battle they would not lose their feet. The Battle of Waterloo was not a minor undertaking and Napoleon Boneparte was defeated. Arguably, the wellies had given them the edge.
Now as fashion so often dictates, once the Duke of Wellington strode about in his wellies, Wellington boots became the necessary fashion item of 1840’s gentry. (Very upmarket)
In 1852, Charles Goodyear (does the name ring any bells?) had developed a process to produce RUBBER. Hiriam Hutchinson established Aigle Wellington boot company in France. Now they were really catching on. In 1856, the British Rubber Company in Edinburgh was established.
The outbreak of WW1 created a huge demand for rubber boots. Almost 2 million Wellington boots were supplied to soldiers.Wellington boots became an essential for soldiers in the flooded trenches.
By the end of WW2, the welly had become popular for men, women and children. Farmers and workmen embraced their use.
Aussie farmers ploughed through mud, slid through pig pens, irrigated creeks and rode horses wearing their black rubber gumboots.
Children of all ages quickly adopted Wellington boots as the most comfortable and versatile of all children’s footwear.
Well, well, well. Haven’t wellies come along way? Fashion designers now market high quality, fashionable Wellingtons world wide.
Scandinavian countries enjoy their durability and warmth in the snow.
American’s wouldn’t consider fly fishing in the rapids without them.
The English wear them anywhere and everywhere.
New Zealander’s have laid claim to the gumboot capital of the world, even declaring a gumboot day. But then they love the outdoors.
Finally, we are seeing wellies on catwalks around the world as a fashion item.