Wellingtons, Mackintoshes and Sandwiches

Wellingtons, Mackintoshes and Sandwiches

We have had fun writing our latest set of comprehension worksheets which look at everyday items with a historical background. Did you know that Wellington boots, Mackintosh coats and sandwiches are all named after their inventors?

Wellington boots were invented by 1st Duke of Wellington (who famously claimed victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815). He asked his shoemaker to make him a pair of boots from soft calf skin that could be worn with fashionable tight fitting linen trousers. The boots needed to be suitable to wear whilst riding his horse and also smart enough to wear in the evening. Once made they were given the nickname ‘Wellington boots’. The Duke went on to develop his boots further and even created waterproof ones made from rubber. They have been popular ever since and many of us own a pair of Wellington boots today.

Charles Macintosh was a Scottish chemist who invented a rubberised waterproof fabric. He used this to make waterproof coats which were nicknamed ‘Mackintoshes’. The earliest coats were made in the 1820’s and although revolutionary in keeping you dry, they were stiff, smelt funny and sometimes melted in hot weather! Improvements were made and they retained their popularity into the 20th century. Unfortunately, sales figures dropped substantially after the invention of cheap PVC raincoats and the company was about to close. Read the worksheet to discover how the Mackintosh coat was relaunched and is now as popular as it has ever been.

John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich held several important positions in government during his life, yet he still found time for his favourite pastime of gambling (playing cards). It is said that he didn’t like to stop gambling long enough to go and eat his meals. During a long card game in 1762 he was hungry and asked his servants to bring him some slices of meat in between some slices of bread. The bread was a crucial part of the snack as it stopped his hands and the cards from getting greasy. Other people soon started asking for “the same as Sandwich” and thus the sandwich was invented and it has retained its popularity for over 250 years.

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