Hunter Boots Ltd.

RHS Original, £55

Back in January of 1856, an American entrepreneur named Mr Henry Lee Norris came to Scotland in search of a home for his rubber boot making company.

After landing in Glasgow, the search began for a suitable factory which was soon found in the form of the Castle Silk Mills, in Edinburgh.

By the summer of 1856, Norris & Co. was ready for business.  Shortly thereafter the company became registered as a limited liability company, then named the North British Rubber Company (which much later became known as Hunter Boot Ltd).

At this stage, the company didn’t just make rubber boots, but also produced tyres, golf balls and hot water bottles amongst other items.

Wellingtons during the Wars

£60-£70, Original Hunter

With the advent of World War I, the fashionable Wellington boot became a functional necessity for soldiers.  The North British Rubber Company was asked by the War Office to construct a sturdy boot suitable for the conditions in flooded trenches, and so production of Wellington boots were boosted rather considerably.  In total, 1,185,036 pairs of these trench boots were made to cope with the Army’s demands.

For World War II, the company were once again called upon to supply vast quantities of Wellingtons and thigh boots; in Holland, the armed forces were working in flooded conditions which required Wellingtons and tight boots in massive quantities.

Due to rationing during the war, labourers began to wear the rubber boot for everyday work.  By the end of the war, wellies had become a very popular footwear item for both men and women during wet weather.

Post-War Popularity

Clarendon range, £145

Over 50 years ago, in the winter of 1955, Hunter’s most famous Wellington boot (now known as the Original Hunter), was first produced.  It was the first orthopedic boot that we made and was launched alongside the Royal Hunter – another boot that remains in Hunter’s range today.

The Original Hunter wasn’t very popular at the time, and they were thought of as a more up-market boot than the traditional black Wellington of the time.  Thus, the Original Hunter at this time tended to be worn most often by middle- to upper-class rural people, who are still sometimes referred to as the ‘Green Welly Brigade’.

In 1977, having continued to supply wellies to the Royal Households, Hunter was awarded a Royal Warrant from HRH The Duke of Edinburgh. This was followed by a Royal Warrant from HM The Queen in 1986. Providing great recognition for their work in keeping some very important feet dry!

And Now…

£255, Hunter & Jimmy Choo

Today, Hunter remains the preferred welly brand for those who like to work hard and play hard – there’s a great range of boots to suit welly wearers all over the world – from the Royal Family to festival-goers, working farmers and landed gentry alike.

Hunter formed many relationships and collaborations with other brands in 2008, further extending its reach into the USA, festival and fashion markets, while also contributing strongly to charity organisations.  The company have produced bespoke versions of the classic Hunter Original boot for Jack Wills, WaterAid, Cowshed and Fortnum & Mason.

In January 2009, Hunter announced that they would be collaborating with luxury fashion designer Jimmy Choo for a limited edition black wellington boot, embossed with signature Jimmy Choo crocodile print and containing gold rivets and a leopard-print lining.  They’re now available…