Kirknewton's fascinating history
signed up: 18th Jul 2014visit Local History ...
We are so used to good waterproof clothing being readily available that it is difficult to imagine life without them. Trying to keep dry was essential for the well being of workers. Linseed oil was used to waterproof cloth which could then be turned into capes, coats and sou'wester type headgear. This was still being done in the remote Cheviot valleys into the 1930s. After WWII and improved roads and transport through the 50s and 60s there was much greater access to shops and goods of all kinds. Another method for keeping dry was to push one corner of a sack into the opposite corner to make a 'poke' which would go over the head and the rest of the sack would protect the back and shoulders. I wonder if there was a name for these? Another way of keeping dry and clean before the advent of the wellington boot was to wrap straw ropes around the tops of boots and lower leg. These could then be discarded. There are photographs of the bondager farm workers wearing these. After the First World War puttees were used for the same purpose. Wellingtons became more common through the 1940s and the log book of 1944 for Southernknowe school records that 'seven pairs of wellingtons were brought in for the children'. The traditional shepherd's boot reigned supreme as the footwear of choice by the hill shepherds. Its design gave much more support to the foot and ankle thana wellington. With its upturn at the toe it also helped the movement of the foot when walking up hill or on rough ground. Getting his first pair of shepherd's boots made a young lad feel very grown up. One shepherd told me that the boots seem very heavy when you first lift them to put them on but they are so good when on that you hardly notice them.