|Wellington Boot from Wikipedia
The Wellington boot, also known as a welly, a wellie,
a gumboot or a rubber boot, is a type of boot based upon Hessian boots.
It was worn and popularised by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington
and fashionable among the British aristocracy in the early 19th century.
The first Duke of Wellington instructed his shoemaker,
Hoby of St. James's Street, London, to modify the 18th century Hessian
boot. The resulting new boot designed in soft calfskin leather had the
trim removed and was cut closer around the leg. The heels were low cut,
stacked around an inch, and stopped at mid-calf. It was hard wearing for
battle yet comfortable for 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 Duke can be seen wearing the boots, which are tasseled,
in this 1815 portrait by James Lonsdale.)
These boots quickly caught on with patriotic British gentlemen
eager to emulate their war hero. Considered fashionable and foppish in
the best circles, and worn by dandies, such as Beau Brummel, they remained
the main fashion for men through the 1840s. In the 1850s they were more
commonly made in the calf high version and in the 1860s they were both
superseded by the ankle boot, except for riding.
These boots were at first made of leather. However in
1852, Hiram Hutchinson met Charles Goodyear who just had invented the vulcanization
process for natural rubber. While Goodyear decided to manufacture tyres,
Hutchinson bought the patent to manufacture footwear and moved to France
to establish "A l'Aigle" in 1853 ("To the Eagle," in honour of his home
country). In a country where 95% of the population were working on fields
with wooden clogs as it had been for generations, the introduction of the
Wellington type rubber boot became an immediate success: farmers were finally
able to come home their feet dry and mud-free.
Now 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. They are generally just below knee-high.
In Britain, there is a light-hearted sport, known as wellie
wanging, which involves throwing Wellington boots as far as possible. The
boots, especially Black Rubber, are also popular fetish items among many
The boot has also given its name to the welly boot dance,
said to have been performed by miners in Africa to keep their spirits up
whilst working. In 1974, Scottish comedian Billy Connolly adopted a comical
ode to the boot called "The Welly Boot Song" as his theme tune and it became
one of his best-known songs.
Wellington boots, though invented in Britain, are very
popular in Canada, particularly in springtime, when melting snows leave
wet and muddy ground for a couple of months. Children can be seen wearing
them to school and taking them to summer camps.
Green Wellingtons are most popular in Britain, while black
Wellingtons, particularly with red or green soles, remain the favourite
of Canadians. Yellow-soled black Wellingtons are often seen in the US,
in addition to Canadian styles. Wellingtons specifically made for cold
weather, lined with warm insulating material, are especially popular during
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