Brown Work Boot

In the past we’ve looked at a pair of 1970s Royal Navy ‘steaming bats’ or working boots. Today we’re looking at a very similar pair of boots, but this time they are in brown rather than black leather. The boots are in the form of a short ankle design without toe caps and laced up the front with three pairs of eyelets. The toe of the boot has steel reinforcement under the leather making them ideal for workwear: 

Like the more usual black steaming bats, these boots have a thick rubber insulated sole to prevent electrical shocks from exposed power cables. The pattern on the sole, again, is virtually identical to that in the 1970s black Royal Navy work boot: 

At the top of the leather on both boots a broad arrow mark can be seen stamped in using a series of small squares, indicating military ownership: 

Quite what these boots were used for or by whom is not clear. The Royal Navy was certainly using black boots of the same pattern but who was issued with the brown versions is harder to say. My best guess is that these were used by the RAF possibly in a hangar where the insulated soles would have protected ground crew from static discharges, however this is purely conjecture on my part. So far an extensive hunt online has failed to turn up the intended user of these boots so if you have any ideas please comment below. 


  1. As mentioned above by Martyn, brown boots were worn by pilots and aircrew and I remenber some Nimrod aircrew with them in the early to mid 1990s, although they were in a decreasing minority – most wearing the black boot – which suggests that the brown boots were initially issued in the 1980s or maybe a touch earlier.

    The brown boots themselves were a specific aircrew pattern i.e. not as the ones featured in this article, I think they were the same as the black boot with the straight horizontal seam joining the upper to the lower and with the anti-fod pattern sole that offered next-to-no grip on any surface.

    I am not sure if fast-jet pilots and navs wore them as well as personnel from multi-crewed aircraft.

  2. Perhaps these particular ones were used by Naval Aviation officers ?
    Maybe at the time they saw themselves akin to the USN ‘Brown Shoe Navy’ ?
    The steel toes would definitely be a good idea for Maintenance Officers, Aircrew or others who worked in Hangars or flight decks aboard ship or on shore.
    That and steel toes keep their shape better when polishing them, but officers and polished shoes don’t often seem to be found together 😉

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