They transformed footwear on the farm. In the years up to 1940’s leather tip boots were the main footwear often worn along with leather leggings which went round the calf of ya leg fastened on with button hooks and a leather strap at the top. Or as they did in the home guard shorter canvas spats with two leather straps to buckle them on.
Our first wellies were very prone to getting punctured or torn and when this happened to both of them we cut the soul off completely leaving only the top shell of the foot and leg.
These were then pulled on and the leather hob nail boots put on under them. The shell of the welly then was settled down and protected your boot uppers from dirt, ideal when working on pulling sugar beet or cutting mangols or kale for the cows, the ground at that time of year being sticky soil which soon baulmed (my word for clogged) up your inside of ya feet and legs as you moved about.
Father had his own last on which he could mend his own and the families boots and shoes, this mostly comprised of a jar full on hob nails, some were in triple form where three nails fastened together and held in the leather soul better round the outer edges of the boot and in filled with a few rows of single nail on the ball of the foot. Round the front edge he had an assortment of tips of metal and a complete horse shoe type tip that went completely round the heel.
This had been the leather boot worn on farms for years, repaired and re-souled until the uppers started to burst from their stitches. Then shortly after wellington boots came in came the boot with rubber soul vulcanised to the leather uppers, these were at the time called everlasting boots (a bit like when the biro ball point pen came in they were called everlasting pens). They were ridiculed and criticised at the time, often being cheaper to buy than their original counterpart. This spelled the end for the village cobbler as all he could do for these new type of boots was to supply new leather laces.
Ode to a Welly
My wellies your wellies and kids wellies too,
Clean wellies dirty wellies some there full of pooh,
New wellies old wellies some with holes right through,
Country wellies town wellies, a big long rubber shoe,
Shiny wellies dull wellies and coloured wellies new,
Chewed wellies torn wellies, on the bonfire threw,
Smelly wellies pongy wellies some we have out grew
Wellies we can’t do without, often must renew.
Wellies large and wellies small
Wellies large and wellies small, of sizes there are many
Some are black some are green, and they cost a pretty penny,
Some are painted in bright colours, but still ya feet they smell,
Trample through the mud and ditches, through the house as well.
The kids they have them round the farm, they hold the water in,
Walking out through deep puddles, wet through to the skin,
How much water they will hold, and your feet an-all,
Tip them out on the door mat, make mother shout and bawl.
Now, what am I looking for?
Ya ware them in the rain, and ya ware them in the snow,
Ya ware them in the mud, and everywhere you go,
Ya keep them in the car, in case of floods you never know,
Ya can’t do without them, left behind it is a blow,
And what I’m looking for, my WELLIES high and low