Why are boots called Wellington boots?
Waterproof rain boots were given the name Wellington boots after the Duke of Wellington, victor of the Battle of Waterloo 1815.
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington was very prominent soldier and politician in the 19th Century Britain. He was also a very stylish man.
In the 1790s he asked his tailor to create a new style of boot for him that was shorter than the traditional ‘Hessians’, then worn by the British Army. These were designed to go with tighter trousers not traditional breeches.
In 1856 the Edinburgh-based North British Rubber Company started to manufacture Britain’s first rubber or ‘gum’ boots in the same shape. With the name of the Duke still retaining a patriotic pull on consumers, these new boots were soon renamed Wellingtons in Britain.
Their popularity did not become widespread until the First World War, when in 1916 the company was commissioned to produce millions of pairs as standard winter kit for ordinary soldiers, to prevent ‘trench foot’, a medical condition caused by prolonged exposure to damp.
At the end of the war, soldiers brought them home and introduced these extremely practical items of footwear to farms, gardens and allotments all over the country. A century later, music festivals and fashion catwalks are still benefiting from this wartime legacy.