Recently, I was lucky to acquire a unique piece of old-new stock, a pair of unworn (still in the box) 25 year-old Morlands
of Glastonbury shoot boots lined with shearling. In a northern climate, when the winter can wreak havoc on one’s shoe wardrobe, it is essential to have a pair of boots to see you through the season in warmth and style. First, a little bit of history:
Morlands Glastonbury History
In 1870, twenty-three year old John Morland bought a tannery in Glastonbury, Somerset county, England. He chose this little town because he found the water to be of exceptional quality and purity, which is quite important for tanning.
In the following years, Morlands of Glastonbury became renowned for outstanding sheepskin products. In the beginning of the 20th century, Morlands manufactured coats, car mats, rugs, boots and slippers. During World War II, the production switched to jackets and boots for pilots of the Royal Air Force – both made out of sheepskin, of course.
In 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary decided to bring along a number of Morlands boots on his successful Mount Everest expedition.
Until the 1960s, Morlands of Glastonbury prospered and employed hundreds of workers on its 31 acres (130000 m2) premises. However, a decline in the sheepskin industry lead to the closure of the huge tannery in 1982. Afterwards, the manufacturing was moved to a smaller building.
The Shoot Boot
In the 1980’s, although not in a decade known for high quality products, the shoot boot was created and I have to say, I am more than pleased with its workmanship and quality. The upper leather is pigment and aniline dyed calf. The boots are shearling / sheepskin lined which keeps my feet wonderfully warm. Only the heel is unlined, probably in order to achieve a better fit. Despite the fact, that the shoes are 25 years old, they looked great right out of the box. Although a little can of shoe polish and a piece of polishing cloth was provided, I simply applied Saphir Renovateur and Medaille d’or shoe polish to enhance the leather.
The rubber sole is well designed, has good traction, although while the welt seems to be sewn to the uppers, it is just glued. And since they were made in the 80’s, the glue has suffered, which sooner or later will result into the soles coming off. I had them reglued at a local cobbler and now everything is fine again. Apart from that, the overall workmanship of this boot made in England is great; so far, I cannot report anything negative about the Shoot Boot. It seems that this was the only model produced for men, while the Shoot Boot for Ladies had a much higher shaft. The retail price of 65 £ back then was certainly a good amount of money, but the boots provide good value for the investment. Although the company, Morlands of Glastonbury, is still in business today, the Shoot Boot is no longer part of their product range. Morlands has an archive, so the boot could in theory be reissued, but I am not sure this will ever happen.
Though I have yet to go hunting with my newly acquired new old stock Shoot Boot, I can say that it is a great winter shoe, especially when it is very cold and snowy outside.
Unfortunately, there are hardly any manufacturers of high quality sheepskin boots left. Ralph Lauren offers some from time to time, however they are usually so costly that a bespoke shearling boot could be considered in its place.
In case you ever find a nice pair of sheepskin boots that fit you, go ahead and buy them, but bear in mind that you will have to reglue the soles to the uppers at a local cobbler!