November 13, 2012 by  
Filed under Days Out, Hobbies, Shopping

The Welly made its first appearance in 1817. At this time men’s fashion was going through significant changes as gentlemen swapped their knee breeches in favour of trousers. This, however, led to a problem finding comfortable footwear. The previously popular Hessian boot, worn with breeches was styled with a curvy turned-down top and heavy metallic braid – totally unsuitable for wearing under trousers.

To this end, Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington instructed his shoemaker, Hoby of St. James Street London, to modify this 18th century boot.  They designed a new boot in soft calfskin leather, removed the trim and made the cut closer around the leg. It was hard wearing for battle, yet comfortable for wearing in the evening. The Iron Duke didn’t know what he’d started – the boot was dubbed the ‘wellington’ and the name has stuck ever since.

The Hunter label now reads Made in China and not Made in Scotland any more and you’re most likely to have your Hunters leak through their first year of wearing. I’ve done my homework, I can assure you of that, and country attire specialists don’t swear on Hunters any more. Because you can’t count on the original Wellies any more.

What was I to do? Give up the quest for the perfect rubber boots? Nope, that’s so not me! I went deeper into research instead. Naturally turned to Aigle boots. A French rubber boots company just as traditional and long lasting as Hunters. Except they kept it in the family. Also, many of the disappointed Hunter clients became Aigle rubber boots owners.

Wellington boots are waterproof and are most often made from rubber or a synthetic equivalent. They are usually worn when walking on very wet or muddy ground, or to protect the wearer from industrial chemicals and they are traditionally knee-height. Wellies are becoming more and more luxurious with examples such as these http://www.sportingtargets.co.uk/product/hunter-balmoral-hawksworth/ proving to be popular.

In Britain, there is a light-hearted sport, known as ‘wellie wanging’, which involves the throwing of Wellington boots as far as possible.

Wellington boots, though invented in Britain, are very popular all over the world.  In cold climates they were especially useful in springtime, when melting snows leave wet and muddy ground for a couple of months. Children can often be seen wearing them to school and office staff wear them to work to save their shoes.

Green wellies are popular in Britain, while black wellies remain the favourite in Scandinavia and the USA. Wellies specifically made for cold weather, lined with warm insulating material, are especially popular in Northern Europe.


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