Who invented Wellies?

Karen Henry 2018 Article Boots Charles Goodyear Duke of Wellington Hiram Hutchinson History Neoprene Rubber Wellies Wellington Boots Welting

Who invented Wellington boots?

No single person was responsible for the invention of rubber Wellington Boots.

The Duke of Wellington designed the Wellington Boot - although not called the Wellington boot at the time for his soldiers for the Battle of Waterloo, in 1815, fighting against Napoleon.

The distinguishing feature of the Wellington Boot was the low-cut heels and the calf-high tops. The Duke of Wellington defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, and in the wake of this victory and his ensuing popularity, Wellington boots became popular.

Originally Wellies were made in hessian - a natural fiber from the skin of the Jute plant. The hessian boot was the forerunner of both the cowboy boot and the Wellington boot.

Later wellies were made of rubber. 

Wellington Boots Origin

In 1847, S.C. Shive, in America, patented the patterns and crimping board for what is known as a Full Wellington. This was a two piece boot that found wide acceptance among the military, horsemen, and adventurers of the time, possibly due to the news of the Battle of Waterloo.

Of interest is that by 1868 Wellingtons were almost exclusively an American style. Europe still preferred the Hessian boot style - which had tassels and a more pointy toe. 

Who invented rubber Wellington boots?

Charles Goodyear was responsible for creating the process that produced the first rubber that made the manufacture of rubber Wellington boots possible.

He was imprisoned many times for bad debts incurred due to his investment in his inventions.

Rubber is obtained from a rubber tree Hevea brasiliensis. There are sustainable plantations of rubber trees for industrial purposes growing all over the world.

Rubber is a really useful material.

Vulcanization is the process of converting raw rubber (latex) into the useful substance which we call rubber; useful for products like Wellington Boots, tyres for vehicles, and erasers for pencils.

The process of vulcanization involves the application of a combination of heat and sulphur in specific proportions to a latex base mixture. The purpose of vulcanization is to prevent or slow down the natural decay of rubber.

Hiram Hutchinson

In 1852, Hiram Hutchinson licensed Goodyear's rubber process to manufacture rubber boots, although these were not originally called Wellington Boots, and were mainly sold for farm laborers to use instead of wooden clogs.

He started the L'Aigle company in France - now well known for producing quality Wellington Boots. He purchased land and buildings near Châlette-sur-Loing, France which he used to produce rubber boots for the Dutch; who at the time depended on wooden clogs for working in muddy fields of Holland.

By 1857 L'Aigle was producing 14,000 pairs of hand-made rubber boots per day.

L'Aigle is now a famous Wellington Boot manufacturing company.

Hiram Hutchinson also founded the European Society of Soft Rubber which later became the global telecommunications company "Hutchinson Worldwide".

Charles Goodyear Jnr. (Welting Process Invention)

Charles Goodyear's son invented machinery to create shoes. He patented a shoe welt machine (in 1871) and created the Goodyear welt construction process, which to this day is the process used to make the finest boots and shoes.

Synthetic Rubber and Neoprene

Later, synthetic rubber came to be used as a substitute for natural rubber.

One of the most successful synthetic rubbers is Neoprene invented by DuPont corporation in 1931.

Neoprene is used in Wellington Boots - and has superior insulation, is more weatherproof and waterproof and exhibit chemical inertness - being longer lasting. Some people have allergies to neoprene.


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