Born on July 20th 1931 in Daubhill, Bolton, Norman Walsh was the youngest to a family of three brothers and step brother.
Leaving school in 1945 at the then customary age of 14, Norman Walsh followed his cobbler father’s footsteps into the footwear industry, starting an apprenticeship at Bolton-based J.W Foster & Sons.
His progress was early recognised and so outstanding that in 1948, he was selected by Joe and Jeff Foster to make the ‘Fosters De Luxe’, the track spikes used by the Great British Summer Olympic teams and many other athletes competing at the games.
Notably this included, Alistair McCorquodale, Maureen Gardner and Arthur Wint.
His Name and work became greatly recognised by many professional athletes around the world and was highly sought after. In 1954 Norman was selected to make the shoes worn by Roger Bannister for his famous successful attempt becoming the first man ever to run a mile in less than four minutes, and in 1958 Norman made the boots worn by Nat Lofthouse for the 1958 FA Cup Final for Bolton Wanderers FC against Manchester United FC, where he score both winning goals.
Throughout the 1960’s, Norman Walsh refined his skills and continued to manufacture specialist sports shoes of an incredibly diverse range, allhand made for his individual customer’s needs.
Nestled on the edge of both the Peak and Pennine districts, it was in the late 1960’s when Norman created the first ever mountain running shoe, the Pennine Adder. Used by many local scramblers and runners throughout the mountainous regions of Northern England, thus gaining the attention of British fell-running athlete, Pete Bland.
It was in 1970, with the formation of the Fell Runners Association, Norman and Pete teamed up to create the first-ever fell-running-specific shoe, the Walsh PB.
So tuned to the harsh athletic environment in which it was designed to perform, in 1981 mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington and his team chose to train in this shoe in preparation for and the primary stages leading to the first ever successful ascent of Mount Kongur, the highest summit in the Chinese Pamirs.
Throughout the 70’s and 80’s, demands for Normans rugby boots gained mass popularity due to their innovative design, quality and success on the pitch, there were more players competing at games held at Wembley wearing Walsh rugby boots than all other brands combined, and 9 out of 10 Rugby League top goal kickers wore Walsh boots.
With the advent in road and marathon running during the 1980’s, Norman released specialist marathon such as the Ensign, Whirlwind, Tornado and Champion, and created the LA ’84 and Seoul ’88 for the Olympic Games and their corresponding years.
2012 saw the return of the Olympic Games to London, and to coincide with this great sporting event, Walsh released the ‘Casual Heritage’ collection, re-releasing some of Norman’s greatest creations, from an archive of over five decades of his work.
Today the Walsh continues to demonstrate its suitability to the challenges of performance. British explorer, Jamie Bunchuck chose the PB trainer for the first ever foot-crossing of the fullest longitudinal extent of Kazakhstan’s ‘Betpack-dala’ desert in 2014, over 190 mines, completing over 7 back-to-back marathons in 8 days.
Over the past decade, Walsh has been involved in a number of select collaborations with high-end brands and designers such as, Paul Smith, Margaret Howell, Fred Perry, Universal Works, You Must Create, Sunspel, and partnered up with Marks & Spencer for part of their ‘Best of British’ collection.
In 1961, Norman Walsh parted with the Foster brothers, and founded a brand under his own name,
Norman Walsh Footwear.
In 2016 Walsh released the ‘Craftsman Project’ using traditional and influential materials as a testimonial to British craftsmanship.