Review: The HebTroCO X William Lennon & Co Chukka boots

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Someone asked if it’s wasn’t about time I did a review of the HebTroCo Chukka boots, made by William Lennon & Co, and yes, it is long overdue. The more I thought about it though, the more I realised that it would be less a review and more a design study, both in fabrication techniques and well, a history lesson of sorts.

If you’ve not read it already, you’ll probably enjoy the article I wrote about my visit to the William Lennon & Co factory in Stoney Middleton (read it here). It does a decent job of setting the scene, as you can’t really sit down with a pair of boots from there and treat them like a piece of generic high street. A pair of boots from Stoney Middleton come with so much more.

The HebTroCo Chukka Boots in wheatbuck oiled suede, made by William Lennon in Stoney Middleton.

The HebTroCo Chukka Boots in wheatbuck oiled suede, made by William Lennon in Stoney Middleton.

It’s a case of what has been kept, and what hasn’t been kept really. The factory was established in 1899, in the same building as it is in today, with much of the same machinery and tools as are still in use. That’s a full 120 years this year! Rumours about some of the staff still lurking in the shadows are apparently totally unfounded, though not entirely improbable. The factory is almost a time capsule of British industrial history if it wasn’t for the fact that it’s going at full capacity to fulfil orders.

What they are:

The chukka boots we’re looking at here are something of a hybrid piece of footwear. The upturned toe box and thick triple leather sole is classic William Lennon styling. The chukka boot three-hole lacing is more desert boot than a work boot. It adds different though, and I appreciate that. The triple leather sole has Dainite “Logger” soles glued on. Basically the commando lug-sole I recommend as the best general-use sole. Even though it does tend to accumulate gravel.

The leather upper is a departure from the norm though. We live in times where social media is full of footwear polished to a shine NASA technicians would applaud, yet here the chosen leather is a roughout version. The technical term is “wheatbuck oiled suede”, though I’d say it’s kind of like suede, but only if suede has an uncle with a reputation and a loud motorcycle if you get my drift. This leather doesn’t want polish, a daub of dubbin will keep it happy. The play of orangey brown colours in it is sublime though.

Add in the brass eyelets and we arrived at the laces. They come with two pairs, one brown and one bright red. And here there is clearly some magic at work, as the brown laces really play it down, stealthy, in a “nothing going on here” kind of way. Yet thread in the red laces and it’s like a cartoon figure with its eyes popping out. Suddenly the leather comes to life and the boots look brilliant. And they do look good, no doubt about it.

The red laces really make them pop!

The red laces really make them pop!

Construction wise we’re definitely in the land of old-school workboots. As mentioned previously, much of the equipment and techniques used as they were back when the factory was established. Not that footwear, in general, has seen massive technological advances mind you, but when you realise that the soles are screwed in place using brass thread and there are only 4 machines left in the world that do this (three of which are at William Lennon), then you do feel a greater appreciation for the history at work here. Old machines were made to last, through maintenance, oil and grease, and last these have done (obvious shoe-tech pun truly not intended).

Triple-layer leather soles. As hardcore as soles come.

Triple-layer leather soles. As hardcore as soles come.

In use:

You’re probably wondering what they’re like to use? There’s no doubt that a triple-leather sole adds a certain amount of stiffness to them. If we imagine a scale of comfort that goes from a pair of barefoot-running shoes (basically a thin rubber sole) through to a pair of wooden clogs as worn by Dutch cheese-makers, a pair of William Lennon boots right out of the box will have a strong appeal to a maker of spreadable dairy products looking for a little more comfort than his carved shoes provide. In other words, we are pretty far into clog-country. While mine has yet to soften noticeably, I am reliably informed that this will happen.

Not that they’re uncomfortable, mind you, it just takes a little getting used to. Say the first 15 minutes of each time you wear them. This may be down to the choice of laces as well, as I suspect that if I wore the brown laces, I’d be a little less self-conscious and might think more about where I’m going than what I’m wearing to go there.

Aspiring garmsmen may wonder how to “style” the boots, as in “what can I wear them with, mate?”, to which I’d say they work can safely be matched with most proper clothes, such as denim, corduroy, moleskin and the like. Not so much with a suit or skinny jeans.

Verdict:

I think this is a clear case where you either get it or you don’t, and if you get it you’ve probably already got a pair, and if you don’t then you obviously have a wooden heart, not a single romantic bone in your body and there is no hope for you at all.

Pricewise I consider boots made by William Lennon to be a total bargain. Made entirely in England, no shortcuts and they will last almost forever (at least if you return them for a resole now and again).

The HebTroCo logo stamped in the leather tongue.

The HebTroCo logo stamped in the leather tongue.

Availability:

Available now and again, mainly to order, from HebTroCo

Price: 230 pounds

Read more about my visit to William Lennon & Co here and the William Lennon & Co website here.

4 Comments

  • Magnus Holm 07/04/2019 at 19:23

    Nice review and good looking boots!
    I am a bit curious as to how well such substantial soles work with a chukka upper. How do they feel? And how is the sizing? I Just received a pair of Lennon 107Fs yesterday, and I have to say they run rather large.

    Reply
    • nick 07/04/2019 at 19:40

      They feel odd, then fine. It shouldn’t work, but does. Definitely different. For my feet they fit true to size.

      Reply
  • Ross Errington 07/04/2019 at 20:50

    Bought a pair of these over two years ago. They are brilliant and do meld to the foot over time. So good that this year I bought their Moto boots too.
    Splendidly weather proof and fashionable to boot.
    Ross

    Reply
  • James 13/04/2019 at 20:34

    The most striking aspect of W Lennon’s boots is the olde school shape of the toe which can draw attention on the High St. I have found them to wear in remarkably quickly. Yes, a triple sole on a chukka is a little strong but the good people at WL are happy to tweak your shoes/boots. Willie Mossop would be proud.

    Reply

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