Hunter has helped to turn the rubber boot into a country classic and of late a coveted fashion item. A ‘ Hunter’ in various guises can be seen on the highland and lowland farms as the hard working ‘Argyll’ farmers boot, on the quintessential country estate and at the various summer music festivals in bright, cheery colurs.
The company was originally established in 1856 in Edinburgh, Scotland by the American enterprenuer Mr. Henry Lee Morris, naming it the North British Rubber Company , which much later was to become known as Hunter Boot Ltd.
The company not only made rubber boots but also tyres, conveyors, combs, golf balls, hot water bottles and rubber flooring.
The proprietors of Hunter Boot Ltd. were first awarded a Royal Warrant of Appointment by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh in 1977. It was followed by HMThe Queen awarding a Royal Warrant of appointment ‘as suppliers of waterproof footwear’ in 1986 . The company continues to hold both warrants.
Wellington boots or the more commonly known ‘wellies’, were created by a shoe maker named Hoby of St. James, London, to a design by The Duke of Wellington in 1817. Fashioned from fine, soft calf leather the first boots of their kind were created. At this time, men discarded their knee breeches in favour of full length trousers.
This change of fashion led to a problem regarding mens footwear (now the bottom of the trousers needed to be ‘tucked in’ to a boot comfortably). The previously popular hessian boot, worn hitherto with breeches, was styled with a curved turned-down top and heavy metallic braid – impossible to wear under the new trousers.
The resulting Wellington boot had the trim removed and was cut closer around the leg. The new design proved to be versatile and hard wearing for riding and in battle and yet comfortable enough for walking in and wearing in the evening. In time, the boot design became even more popular than the famous victor over Napoleon at Waterloo with the Wellington Boot or wellie, adopted all over the world.
Whilst leather remained the primary material for footwear, the industrialisation of rubber extrusion and raw material supplied from plantations throughout the empire, made rubber boots a hardwearing and affordable waterproof alternative to the more expensive and often less suitable leather boots.
At Hunter, production of the Wellington boot was dramatically boosted with the advent of World War I and a requirement for footwear suitable for the conditions in the heavy wet clay and flooded trenches of the battle fields.
The North British Rubber Company (now Hunter Boot Ltd) was asked by the War Office to construct a boot suitable for such conditions. The Scottish mills ran day and night to produce immense quantities of these trench boots. In total, 1,185,036 pairs were made to meet the Army’s demands.
Hunter’s are worn now on happier days and can be found in a fun array of childrens’ and adult sizes, colours and quirky limited editions to brighten up any cloudy day.