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BILL GRIGGS

DIGGING YOURSELF OUT OF A HOLE

Dr. Martens were forged out of British industry. The original factory we own and operate to this day has produced traditional workman’s footwear since 1901. But the 8-eye AirWair boot we know today didn’t roll off the production line till 1960. And it probably never would have, if it wasn’t for Bill Griggs. Bill inherited the factory from his family in the 50s, and his hard work and determination ensured it was renowned for making solid, reliable workboots.

In 1959, he saw an advert in a trade magazine for a new invention: an air-cushioned sole, made by two doctors in Germany. People were quick to tell him it was a gimmick, but Bill saw huge potential. He knew that many of the workers in Britain’s factories found their boots sturdy and robust, but incredibly uncomfortable. So against his family’s wishes, he met up with Dr. Maertens and Dr. Funck. The trio struck up an unlikely friendship. And Bill acquired the exclusive licence for their revolutionary footwear technology.

To get production started, Bill needed to buy the unique mould-making machines that produced the air-cushioned sole. It was difficult: they were rare and expensive. But when the factory they were situated in went bankrupt, Bill seized his chance and bought them. He transported the equipment to the factory on Cobbs Lane, only to find it would not fit through the door. The enormous machinery was too tall. Undeterred, Bill approached the local council to get permission to raise the roof of his factory. They bluntly refused.

This could have been the end of Bill’s revolutionary new business before it even got started. But his determination shone through. Calling his team in the following day, he dug a massive hole in the factory floor and fitted the machines in that way. One week later, Bill started production of a black, 8-holed boot that sat on the new air-cushioned sole. Taking the name from the date of its first production, the 1460 boot was born.

THE ONLY THING TOUGHER THAN A DR. MARTENS BOOT
IS THE PERSON WEARING IT

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