The Duke of Wellington requested a new style of boot from his shoemaker to be worn in battle and for evening wear beneath the new fashion long trousers. A leather boot was designed and became known as The Wellington Boot. He started a fashion…
Mr Henry Lee Norris arrives in Scotland from America in search of a home for his new rubber footwear factory.
The North British Rubber Company was registered a limited company in September. It acquired premises in Edinburgh’s Castle Silk Mills buildings and had four people working for it. The company not only made rubber boots – production included tyres, conveyors, combs, golf balls, hot water bottles and rubber flooring.
The company branched out into manufacturing rubber hose and belting alongside footwear.
Traction engines were introduced to the capital by R W Thomson.
The North British Rubber Company manufactured solid rubber tyres for the traction engines. With the first set fitted and tested on roads between the factory and Balerno. The Company has now grown to 600 members of staff.
Rubber boot production was boosted by World War I when the War Office commissioned The North British Rubber Company to construct a sturdy boot suitable for the flooded trenches. During the war 1,185,036 pairs of trench boots were made, with mills running 24 hours a day to keep up with the Army’s demand. The fashionable boot was now a functional necessity.
At the outbreak of World War II in September, 80% of the North British Rubber Company’s production was for war materials – from ground sheets to life belts and gas masks. In Holland, forces were working in flooded conditions which demanded Wellingtons and tight boots in vast supplies.
By the end of the war the Wellington had become popular among men and women for wet weather, the boot had become roomier with a thick sole. Also, due to rationing in the war labourers began to wear the rubber boot for everyday work.
The North British Rubber Company moved to a larger factory in Dumfriesshire to deal with the rise in demand. This factory, known as Heathall, had been built in 1912 to manufacturer car and aeronautical engines.
The winter saw the introduction of two new boots, and the first orthopaedic boots to be produced by the company – the Green Hunter (now known as the Original Hunter) and the Royal Hunter. Reaction from trade was slow with an order of 36 pairs considered an achievement.
North British Rubber was bought by Uniroyal Limited.
Hunter is awarded a Royal Warrant from HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.
A pair of Hunters has become an essential item for those guided in upmarket country fashion. By the end of the 1980′s they were synonymous with the much caricatured figures of The Sloane Ranger Handbook.
A pair of Hunter Originals is worn by Lady Diana Spencer in her engagement photographs, sparking a fashion spurge.
Hunter is awarded a Royal Warrant from HM The Queen.
Uniroyal Limited is bought by Gates Rubber Company Limited of Denver, Colorado. From 1987 the company is known under its new name.
Hunter enters the dry diving suit market, becoming at its peak the number two producers in the market with a 35% market share.
The Gates Rubber Company is taken over by Tomkins PLC of London.
Tomkins PLC sell the Consumer and Industrial Division of The Gates Rubber Company to Interfloor, the country’s largest carpet underlay manufacturer.
The management of Hunter buy the footwear part of the company from Interfloor for £1.98m establishing the company independently as Hunter, for the first time ever.
Hunter celebrates 50 years of the Original Hunter Green Welly with an exciting charitable initiative – Giving Welly.
Hunter launches into the USA.
Hunter launched several extensions to the Wellington range. Along with developing boots under licence for the Royal Horticultural Society. The new Lady N boot is also launched.
Hunter Rubber Company is placed into administration due to cash flow problems
A Private consortium (led by Lord Marland of Odstock and comprising Peter Mullen (ex CEO of Thomas Pink) and Julian Taylor all of whom were previous shareholders in Hunter Rubber Company) supported by the Pentland Group PLC buy Hunter out of administration and Hunter Boot Ltd and the Dumfries Rubber Company are born.
After rapid re-structuring of the company, new supply routes and distribution partners found in the UK and USA and the Hunter portfolio was rationalised to core products exhibiting the key skills and tradition of this well established Scottish company.
Hunter re-establishes itself as a major player in the traditional country and leisure footwear market in the UK and positions itself as a strong contender in the USA opening showrooms on 7th Avenue in New York and Carnaby Street in London.
A new management team is put in place retaining much of the existing skill and experience base from Hunter Rubber.
A new international sales director is recruited to develop new Hunter ranges and to increase existing sales in new markets.
The relationship with the Royal Horticultural Society is strengthened further with a launch of new RHS wellies at the Chelsea Flower Show in London.
The ‘Century’ Division is set up to handle the safety range globally and to develop new products in this sector.
During the summer a new website is developed improving Hunters web-presence and further strengthening the brand’s global perception.
Hunter Boot Ltd enjoys a record season announcing, in August, an 85% sales increase, against the same period in 2006.
Hunter’s official website is launched.
The summer will see the launch of the Hunter Festival range and the new Balmoral range. Along with a new charity partnership with WaterAid, launching at the Glastonbury Festival.
Hunter Boot Ltd make a historic move from their base in Dumfries to new offices in Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh.