What do Fred Dibnah, Amir Khan and running shoes have in common? Easy, they were all raised on the streets of Bolton. Whilst Bolton may seem like an unlikely place to start a footwear revolution, it was Reebok who first got the ball rolling with their stripped-back and spiked-up cricket shoes. But we’re not on about Reebok here — we’re talking about the one and only Norman Walsh. Having started work under the expert eye of the Foster family at Reebok at the humble age of 14, Norman Walsh was soon one of their certified master craftsmen, and by 1948 he was making running shoes for the British Olympic Team. But it wasn’t until 1961 he decided to go solo under his own name.
By the early 70s, Norman decided to ‘go off-road’ and with the help of Lake District fell runner Pete Bland, designed his first fell-running shoe. With a soft, flexible upper and a tough sole, these were quickly snaffled up by rock-climbers, and were even used by Chris Bonnington to make the first ascent of the notoriously tough Mt. Kongur in China.
Today Walsh footwear is still Bolton through and through. Made less than 15 miles from our shop by a small, but dedicated team of expert-shoe-crafters, you won’t find a more British pair of running shoes unless the Queen starts making trainers out of bulldog skin.
To read more about Bolton's footwear folklore, and see some nice pictures of the Walsh staff, click here
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