Born on July 20th 1931 in Daubhill - Bolton, Norman Walsh was the youngest of a family of three brothers and step brother.
Leaving school in 1945 at the then custom age of 14, Norman followed his cobbler father Williams' 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 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.
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 shoes for Roger Bannister for his famous, and successful, attempt at becoming the first man ever to run a mile in less than four minutes.
Norman continued in the sporting world, making the boots worn by Nat Lofthouse for the 1958 FA Cup Final for Bolton Wanderers FC against Manchester United FC, where he scored both winning goals.
In 1961 Norman amicably parted with the Foster brothers and founded a brand under his own name -
Norman Walsh Footwear.
Throughout the 1960's Norman Walsh refined his skills and continued to manufacture specialists sports shoes of an incredibly diverse range, all hand made for his individual customers' 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 when Norman and Pete teamed up to create the first ever fell-running-specific shoe, the Walsh PB, which was so well tuned to the harsh athletic environment in which it was designed to perform, becoming an instant success.
In 1981 mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington and his team chose to train in the Walsh PB and use in the primary stages leading to the first ever successful ascent of Mount Kongur. Four years later in 1985 they were used again by Sir Chris Bonington for the successful expedition of the southwestern face of Mount Everest.
Throughout the 1970'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 tog goal kickers wore Walsh boots.
Walsh also found success on the cricket field. English test cricket captain Tony Greig was an avid wearer of Walsh cricket boots along with many of his fellow teammates and other professional players from the Australian and West Indies teams.
With the advent in road and marathon running during the 1980's, Norman released specialist marathon shoes such as the Ensign, Whirlwind, Tornado and Champion. He also created models such as the XJ6 Moscow, LA'84 and Seoul '88for the Olympic Games and their corresponding years.
Today Walsh continues to demonstrate it's 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 the Kazakhstan's "Betpack-dala" desert in 2014, where he covered over 190 miles, completing over 7 back-to-back marathons in 8 days.
2012 saw the return of the Olympic Games to London. To coincide with this great sporting event, Walsh launched the "Casual Heritage" collection, re-releasing 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 using traditional and influential materials as a testimonial to British craftsmanship.
2021 will mark the 60 year anniversary of the founding of Walsh, the last British owned, designed and manufacturer of traditional footwear, with continuous manufacture in Bolton, England since 1961.
History in the making...
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