About Norman Walsh

For 60 years, WALSH has been manufacturing sports shoes for Olympians, marathon runners and rugby players, as well as sneakers for the "civilian" market, in Bolton, near Manchester, England. The company was founded in 1961 by Norman Walsh and remains a family business today. Jon and Dennis run the company and Jason, Jon's son, designs new models. Tradition and new ideas thus complement each other ideally.

They are supported by seven long-term employees, some of whom have been with Walsh for over 30 years. Each pair is handmade in the small manufactory from the sole to the laces.

The materials used come mainly from the British Isles: leather from Scotland, nylon and canvas from England. Harristweed, vegan leather, fabrics from Ventile or Liberty. But also more and more environmentally friendly materials, such as fabrics made from nettle fibers or rhubarb leather from Germany. Solvent-based adhesives and materials with toxic chemicals are avoided.

So Walsh produces - automatically - sustainably, ethically and ecologically.

The History of Walsh

Norman Walsh was born in Daubhill, Bolton, on July 20, 1931, the youngest child in a family of three brothers and a stepbrother. 

Leaving school in 1945 at the age of 14, Norman followed in the footsteps of his shoemaker father, Williams, into the shoe industry and began an apprenticeship with J.W. Foster & Sons in Bolton. His progress was recognized early and was so outstanding that in 1948 he was selected to manufacture the "Fosters De Luxe'', the spikes used by the British Summer Olympians and many other athletes who competed in the Games. His name and work were recognized and sought after by many professional athletes around the world. 

In 1954, Norman was selected to make shoes for Roger Bannister for his famous and successful attempt to become the first person ever to run a mile in less than four minutes. 

Norman continued in the sporting world, making the shoes worn by Nat Lofthouse in the 1958 FA Cup Final for Bolton Wanderers FC against Manchester United FC, where he scored both winning goals. In 1961, Norman amicably parted ways with the Foster brothers and established a brand under his own name - Norman Walsh Footwear. 

Throughout the 1960s, Norman Walsh honed his skills and continued to produce specialized athletic footwear in an incredibly wide range, all handmade for his customers' individual needs. Located on the edge of the Peak and Pennine Districts, Norman developed the first mountain running shoe, the Pennine Adder, in the late 1960s. It was used by many local climbers and runners in the mountainous regions of northern England, attracting the attention of British fell running athlete Pete Bland. 

In 1970, with the formation of the Fell Runners Association, Norman and Pete teamed up to develop the first fellrunning shoe, the Walsh PB, which was so well suited to the harsh athletic environment for which it was designed that it became an instant success. In 1981, mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington and his team decided to train with the Walsh PB and use it in the first stages of the successful first ascent of Mount Kongur.

Four years later, in 1985, they were used again by Sir Chris Bonington for the successful expedition through the southwest face of Mount Everest. 

Throughout the 1970s and '80s, demand for Norman's rugby boots grew due to their innovative design, quality and success on the field. At matches at Wembley, more players wore Walsh rugby boots than all other brands combined, and 9 out of 10 rugby league goal scorers wore Walsh boots. Walsh was also successful on the cricket field. England cricket captain Tony Greig was an avid wearer of Walsh cricket shoes, as were many of his teammates and other professional players on Australian and West Indian teams. With the advent of road and marathon running in the 1980s, Norman brought out specialized marathon shoes such as the Ensign, Whirlwind, Tornado and Champion. He also created models such as the XJ6 Moscow, LA '84 and Seoul '88 for the Olympics and corresponding years. 

Today, Walsh continues to prove the car's aptitude for performance challenges. British explorer Jamie Bunchuck chose the PB trainer for the first crossing of Kazakhstan's "Betpack-dala" desert in 2014, covering more than 190 miles and completing seven consecutive marathons in eight days. 

In 2012, the Olympic Games were held again in London. To mark this major sporting event, Walsh launched the ''Casual Heritage" collection, reissuing some of Norman's greatest creations from an archive of over five decades of his work. 

In 2016, Walsh created the ''Craftsman Project," a collection focused on the use of traditional and influential materials as a testament to British craftsmanship. 

2021 marks the 60th anniversary of Walsh's founding. Walsh is the last British-owned manufacturer of traditional footwear, producing continuously in Bolton, England, since 1961.

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