Normally two shoe posts in one week is something I try to avoid at all costs, but with the holiday and such, things have been a bit off to begin with, and what the hell, I’ve got boots on the brain. Oh and this is my blog after all so I might as well do as I please. Alright, enough with the excuses, because it’s time to talk about a man who probably wouldn’t have had the time to listen to a single excuse in his entire life: R.M. Williams. Born Reginald Murray Williams in 1901 in Belalie North, South Australia, R.M. was a camel-boy, a well-digging, a business, a bootmaker, and an all around tough-mother.
When he was just ten years old, Williams and his family packed up and moved from the bush to Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia, so that Williams and his two sisters could receive what his parents deemed as a proper education. School didn’t really seem to agree with R.M. though, and so at thirteen he was out on his own, bound for the countryside once again. Working whatever odd jobs he could just to survive, by eighteen R.M. found himself working as a camel driver, living in the Australian wilderness and learning how to survive from the Aborigines.
Then, the Great Depression hit, and with work nowhere to be found in the country, R.M. headed back to Adelaide, and it was there that he met and married Thelma Ena Cummings. With the Great Depression ravaging the Australian economy, the newlyweds fled the city for the Australian bush, purchasing a small plot of land that they could raise their family upon. R.M. took up well digging as a way to make ends meet, but like most of the country he was still barely just scraping by, and with an ever-increasing number of mouths to fed, R.M.’s luck was running out. That is until one day R.M. happened to befriend a saddler named Dollar Mick. The year was 1932, and Dollar Mick, a self-taught savant, instilled his knowledge of leather craftsmanship onto Williams. R.M. quickly turned this newfound skill set into a bootmaking business, fueled by his expansive knowledge of the outback.
As a young man who had worked tirelessly in the bush almost his entire life, Williams knew just what the ranch-hands and camel-drivers that would become his customers were looking for. With catalogs and ads circulating throughout Australia, Williams and his squad of cobblers, based out of a small shack behind his father’s house, turned R.M.’s gorgeous yet practical Chelsea boot designs into a booming business. As Australia climbed out of the Depression, the hardy Chelsea boots moved from the bush to the cities, and R.M. Williams became one of the country’s most illustrious companies.
R.M. Williams was, and still is, a brand that could appeal to any Australian no matter their background, covering everything from hard-soled, big-heeled cowboy boots, to dressier saddle leather and suede models. all made right in the outback. While R.M. Williams, the man, unfortunately passed away in 2003, in seventy years he had brought his boots from the bush, to the cities, to the world, and to this day they’re still considered some of the best Chelsea’s money can buy.