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Paddington: The Bear in Wellington Boots

With his familiar red hat, blue duffel coat and Wellington boots, the famous British teddy, Paddington Bear, is recognised across the world. The children's animated character is celebrating his 60th anniversary this year, after making his debut in a 1958 book written by Michael Bond.

The first Paddington novel, A Bear Called Paddington, introduced the bear as being from "deepest, darkest Peru", as he arrived in Britain carrying a tatty old suitcase containing his most treasured items. Standing at Paddington Station, he was found by the Brown family, who took him to their Notting Hill home.

Michael Bond

There were nine Paddington books in total, with the final one being published in April 2017. They introduced the bear as being polite and kind to others, making him a great role model for children. However, he always manages to inadvertently get into trouble, despite "trying so hard" to behave.

 

Paddington's origins

The books have sold more than 30 million copies worldwide and have been translated into 30 languages. The author, who died, aged 91, in June 2017, said Paddington was based on a toy bear he spotted in a shop on Christmas Eve 1956. He bought it as a present for his wife, as it was the last bear on the shelf and he "felt sorry" for it!

He called the bear Paddington because they lived near the station and soon, the author had an idea for a Paddington novel, written in the style he enjoyed as a child. The bear's love of marmalade sandwiches is legendary and one can often be found under his hat.

Bond gave his book to literary agent Harvey Unna and it was published on 13th October 1958 by William Collins and Sons. It brought the author huge success and his writing career, which had begun in 1945 when he was in Cairo with the British Army, finally took off.

 

Wellington boots

A Paddington soft toy was released in 1972, with the first prototype being owned by the former Top Gear presenter, Jeremy Clarkson, as a child.

Paddington's Wellington boots, coat and hat are an integral part of his character. It's a little-known fact that his famous Wellington boots were designed by the Clarkson family and didn't appear in Bond's original book - although it was mentioned that the bear had received some boots for Christmas in the 1964 book, Paddington Marches On.

Clarkson’s mother and father, Shirley and Eddie, ran a design business called Gabrielle Designs in the 1970s. Shirley made the first Paddington Bear soft toy in 1971, giving it to Jeremy and his sister, Joanna.

Legend has it that the toy bear kept falling over, so eventually, the Clarksons decided to put him in sturdy Wellington boots so he could stand up - hence the famous boots were created!

 

Paw print

At first, the tiny toy boots were manufactured out of rubber by Dunlop - better known for making vehicle tyres. However, demand for the toys was soon so great that Dunlop couldn't keep up with producing the Wellingtons, so Gabrielle Designs had to make more boots themselves.

Each pair was authenticated with a bear's paw print moulded into the sole. By 1978, Gabrielle Designs was selling around 87,000 Paddington Bears per year. The story of the soft toy's meteoric rise to success was later described in Shirley Clarkson's factual book, Bearly Believable.

 

Television and film

Paddington Bear was made into a kids' cartoon series in 1975 by London-based animator, FilmFair. The series continued until 1997. Paddington has also become synonymous with the annual Children in Need charity fundraising campaign, appearing in the publicity video with comedian and actor, Peter Kay.

In November 2014, the first Paddington Bear film was released, simply called Paddington. The bear's voice provided by English actor Ben Whishaw, who had previously starred in Brideshead Revisited in 2008 and Skyfall in 2012.

The producers decided to revert to the original 1958 image of Paddington, as created by Bond, without his famous Wellingtons that had appeared later in the 1970s.

In 2017, a second Paddington film was released, again voiced by Whishaw. The plot of Paddington 2 saw the famous bear trying to solve the mystery of a master thief, who targeted upmarket London properties. The finger is pointed at a fading actor, played by High Grant, but before he can find proof, Paddington himself somehow ends up in jail!

You won't find rubber Wellington boots at Coruba!  You will, however, find a large selection of high-quality rubber matting and other rubber products, from one of the UK's leading providers. Please call us on 01702 811 623 for further information.



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