Clarks Desert Boots

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The Fast Show – a UK TV show from the mid-1990’s  – had a wealth of characters created by Charlie Higson and Paul Whitehouse – amongs others. One particular favourite was “Louis Balfour” – played by John Thomson – who was the oh so slightly pretentious presenter of “Jazz Club” with a catchphrase – when all else failed – of “Nice!”. You rarely got to see his feet but my bet is that he would’ve worn Clarks Desert Boots

See here a sample of Jazz Club The Best of Louis Balfour’s Jazz Club

Now you have to follow this, Louis was cut from a very similar cloth to a couple of Art Masters at my last school. They insisted on being called “Chris” and “Steve” as indeed I suspect they were their real names and as 6th Formers it seemed odd to continue with “Sir”. They wore corduroy jackets – in brown and country green – one with contrasting leather elbow patches – they had a penchant for practical Farah Hopsack trousers – don’t ask – and each had several pairs of iconic Clarks Desert Boots.

Quite what desert there were planning to cross in leafy Cheshire was uncertain but none the less these two were simply the coolest guys in the school.  “Steve” with his long hair even drove a late reg VW Beetle – click here to our previous post Volkswagen Beetle – an icon re-imagined – you can imagine he was already ice cool to me.

Assured not to be bitten by scorpions nor rattle snakes, Clarks Desert Boots to this day are an iconic and a highly flexible wardrobe essential that you can wear with jeans, moleskins or chinos and they will always look the part. Just avoid wearing in the rain – they are suede and, after all, are intended for deserts!

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C. & J. Clark International Ltd, (“Clarks”) was founded in 1825 by Quaker brothers Cyrus and James Clark in Street, (Somerset, England) where its HQ is still based – although manufacturing is now predominantly undertaken in Asia. Clark’s continues to be 84% family owned.

Since 1879 the Clark’s trade mark has been the distinctive Glastonbury Tor with the St Michael’s tower.

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The Desert Boot was launched in 1950 having been designed by the co-founders, James’, great-grandson, Nathan Clark, a serving British Army Officer based in Burma. It is said that the Desert Boot was based on the unlined boots made in the bazaar’s of Cairo for returning British Army Officers during the Second World War.

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Post War the Desert Boot saw adoption by the Mod Culture in UK, the Beatnik Culture in the US and were known to be a favourite of the Student anit-capitalist demonstrations in Paris in May 1968.

Why not be like Steve McQueen or Liam Gallagher and get a pair of Clarks original Desert Boots – please click the links below the images below to be directed to AMAZON – the two links show the full colour range available.

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Clarks Desert Boot, Men’s Derby, Braun (Cola Suede), 10 UK

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Clarks Originals Desert Boot, Men’s Derby Lace-Up, Brown (Brown Sde), 9 UK 43 EU)

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Images courtesy of C & J Clark International Limited

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Barbour x Land Rover Defender

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Two of my favourite brands, both iconic and each with their own distinctive aesthetic, have collaborated to create a one-off hugely covetable synthesis of their brands. A Land Rover Defender 90 as imagined by Barbour.

Please see http://barbournews.co.uk/1KXN-54W6F-A6O2RLGI10/cr.aspx

Please enjoy our posts featuring these two iconic brands at Barbour Jacket,  Barbour waxed jacket Barbour International – Steve McQueen and Land Rover Defender

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The Hovercraft

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Seldom do we seen such a dramatic shift away from one established technology with the arrival of a competing and, often, better new technology or solution – this is described by the cruelly true word of “obsolesce”.

A classic example is the Kodiak 35mm film or the Polaroid camera – see our earlier piece here on the Polaroid Camera – when confronted with the dawn of mass digital photography and the ever increasing pixels of the cameras incorporated into mobile phones demand for these former market leaders collapsed.

The powered or manual ribbon typewriter was rendered redundant by the arrival its victor, the word processor/computer.

An equally dramatic commercial market shift can be seen in the impact that the opening of the Channel Tunnel, in May 1994 and the commencing of its passenger services in November 1994, had on the transport links typified by ferry boats and today’s iconic design, The Hovercraft.

On many occasions from the mid 1970’s to late 1980’s I used the Hovercraft services that ploughed between the Kent coasts and Northern France. Akin to flying, rising up then skuttling across the waves on its air inflated “skirt”, the ride was fabulous – if a little noisy – for the sea-sick prone, like me, who could resemble an emerald before a traditional ferry boat had left the harbour!

Not entirely without predecessors, the Hovercraft is regarded as a British invention of  the late 1950’s when mechanical engineer Christopher Cockerell’s and his colleagues developed an annular ring of air for maintaining the cushion and providing lift under the vehicle, combined with a successful “skirt”, resulted in the first practical vehicular use of the concept.

Initially, until no military use was shown, Cockerell’s work and design were Classified. However, it was later Declassified and in 1958 Cockerell obtained funding for a full scale model. Launching in June 1959, it crossed the English Channel on 25 July 1959.

By 1968 a car and passenger cross-channel ferry service was offered by Hoverlloyd from the Kent coast to Calais and Boulogne (France) and, later, by Seaspeed – a joint venture with British Rail and the French equivalent SNCF. In 1981 the two businesses merged to become “Hoverspeed” – whose majestic craft is our featured image.

Hoverspeed Brochure

The Hoverspeed services ceased in 2000 and were replaced by Seacat catamarans until 2005. The reason, often cited for their closure was the impact of the opening of the Channel Tunnel.

I’d also suggest the routes suffered from a decline in so-called “Booze Cruises”, when us Brits, would fill up our cars with lowly taxed beers, wines and spirits in Northern France.

Hoverspeed Booze

Although the Hovercraft continues to enjoy a role, both in the military and civilian services around the world, and production still taking place on the Isle of White – the  home of its design and testing – perhaps like Concorde – see our earlier post here – Concorde by Dominic Baker in years to come and market forces identify demand there will be a revival in the fortunes of the Cross Channel Hovercraft services, I would be a keen supporter.

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Photo credits – Hover Speed And MarkusHerzig.com

 

 

 

 

Land Rover Defender

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The Land Rover Defender (known by most – depending on the wheelbase chosen – as either a Land Rover 90 or 110) was a British built 4 x 4 utility vehicle developed from and finally replacing the iconic Land Rover Series first launched in 1948. First introduced in 1983 the last model of this design classic was produced in January 2016 when European design regulations rendered the Defender’s design redundant.

The post 1983 may seem in many respects similar to Series III version of the Land Rover but this re-imagined Land Rover had for example permanent four wheel drive – derived from the Range Rover – and progressively over succeeding years more powerful and varied choices of engines were made available from 2.25-litre petrol and diesel engines, to 2.5-litre petrol up to 3.5-litre petrol only version and a V8 was particularly used on the 90 version.

Either by cleaver placing or by coincidence, the use of larger 4×4 as private vehicles – as opposed to their more agricultural focussed predecessors, played well into Land Rover marketing. Using the badge “County” the Defender 4x4s were sold as multi-purpose family vehicles with improved interior trim, ride, colour options, wheel rims and seating.

Land Rover was beginning to capitalise on its home market and to make an impact on the European market but elsewhere in the world the legacy of poor quality from the days of British Leyland meant that in other target markets such as the Far East Toyota Land Cruisers and Nissan’s Patrol were dominant.

Due to the introduction of the Discover model in 1989 the old 90/110 was re-christened the Defender when it acquired the new and well performing 200Tdi engine which improved the Defenders ability to cruise at higher speeds and tow heavier loads.

In 1998, the upcoming Euro III emissions regulations the Defender was given an all-new 2.5-litre, five-cylinder in-line turbodiesel engine, badged the Td5. For 2002 model year, the Td5 engine was further refined to satisfy ever-more stringent emission regulations. Again to clear emissions hurdles for the 2007 model the TD5 engine was replaced by Ford’s Dagenham built DuraTorq line engine.  Combine this with the replacement of  four inward-facing seats with two forward-facing seats and the Defender 90 4×4 a four-seater vehicle and the Defender 110 4×4 a seven-seater.

External and internal safety regulations due in 2015 spelt the death knell of the Defender. On the plus side various reports suggest that the Defender’s replacement may be announced by Land Rover – in part based on the DC1oo concept car shown at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show – before the end of 2106 – we’ll have to wait and see.

Photo from Land Rover