Information about the Wellington Boot, history and style

Wellingtons at War

The famous boots that are commonly known as Wellingtons were first used by Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of the House Wellington. Naturally, the boots bear his name to this day. Wellingtons became very popular in the nineteenth century, as fashions began to change and pants and their hems became longer a new, somewhat smoother boot was needed to wear the knee and under the pants legs themselves. Up until this point, boots were made with soft and easily turned down buccaneer style tops with a heavy braid, designed for use with the shorter, formerly more popular breaches but uncomfortable for wearing under full length trousers or pants.

The first Wellington boots, or Wellies, were modeled after the Hessian boots worn by the sum of the members and inhabitants of a German tribe who settled long ago in modern age city of Hessen, called Hessians and designed for Wellington personally by his cobbler, Hoby of famous St. James Street in historic London. Hessian boots had been significantly more practical and easier to wear than even the much decorated predecessor to Wellies, as they featured no inconveniently turned down buccaneer style top piece and a much smoother leg. Wellington required his cobbler to cut them even more, making them closer to his leg to facilitate ease of use with the full length pants or trousers common to the period.

Wellington’s boots were both sufficiently durable for any battle grounds and pitched combat, as well as comfortable enough to wear in everyday social situations. The Wellington style boots seem to have caught on very quickly with many of Wellington’s adoring public, who were more than happy to try to emulate him after his resounding defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, and became more and more popular as time passed. The purpose for the boots being both suitable for formal wear as well as combat is something of a curiosity, and the reasons for Wellington choosing this particular versatility as the specific priority of the design is still unknown today.

Wellingtons in the earliest days were manufactured from soft and supple calf skin leather, but boot makers quickly began to experiment about with many other types of materials like rubber. American based entrepreneur and manufacturer Henry Lee Norris relocated his entire boot making operations and facilities from America to the country of Scotland where the North British Rubber Company, which would later be renamed the Hunter Rubber Company, among others, was originally founded in 1856. During World War I, the British War Office had a need for a rubber, water proof boot practical and suitable for trench warfare and life in the frequently muddy conditions of the battlefields of the era in the muddy trenches of war-torn France and Belgium. The North British Rubber Company produced nearly 1.2 million individual pairs of Wellington rubber boots for the united war effort on the battle fields of Europe, allowing soldiers to survive in horrid conditions of squalor in the virtual cesspools of the trenches.

In World War II, the venerable Wellington boot was again issued to soldiers around the world, and they quickly became the standard issue for soldiers and civilians alike. After the war, the Wellington boot was still immensely popular, and were used by civilians in all manner of work environments.