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Wellington boots, or wellies, were an English invention, although the original boots weren’t made of rubber at all, but from leather. In the early 1800s, the 1st Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, asked his shoemaker to modify the popular hessian boot, which was impractical to wear under trousers. The resulting leather boot caught on and was dubbed the wellington by those wanting to emulate the British war hero. In the 1850s, an American entrepreneur, Henry Lee Norris, arrived in Scotland and set up the North British Rubber Company (later the Hunter Rubber Company, which still manufactures wellingtons today). The firm introduced practical rubber wellingtons and manufactured more than a million rubber trench boots for troops in the first world war. Today, no child, self-respecting gardener or outdoor enthusiast would be without a pair. They now come in a vast range of colours, including the rather fetching rainbow-patterned, as well as the traditional green.

Photo: Maris Gibbs


Your comments

Wellies/welly - the words and the boots are very English. Whilst rubber boots are by no means unique to England, we English have a bit of a thing about them. No where else finds them so funny, and yes a little kinky. Why so many pcitures of lad and laddettes in wellies at Glastonbury. I've been to festivals in France and no-one thinks twice about donning their bottes en caoutchouc. But we English find it funny. We even have funny words for them - wellies and welly boots. For me it sums up the best of the English - the little boys & girls that never grew up

Duncan Warwick

I too associated Hunter Wellies with the UK. I will NOT make the same expensive mistake again! Does anyone know of an authentic rubber Wellie from the UK? I question the Queen's standards now and wonder why she continues to put her seal of approval on items made in CHINA?!
Ursula Haigh

I love wellies! i love riding my bike with my wellies on through my village on crisp sunny days through the muddy fields and alongside the riverbank.
vicki ley

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I believe rice, peas and jerk chicken is an Icon of England.

Ade Adeluwoye