The ‘Hannibal’ Norton Biker Collection
By Guy Sangster-Adams
Forward! Jeffery~West’s crossing of their Hannibal Classic Brogue Derby with a biker boot for their collaboration with Norton Motorcycles is an inspired choice - reflecting the pedigree of the styles of both British companies. The Derby was initially known as a Blücher, after the Prussian Field Marshall, Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, who commissioned the ‘open-laced’ boot to provide his army with better footwear. The style was subsequently adopted by armies across Europe and from the 1850s became a very popular sporting and hunting boot. Because of his attacking approach, Von Blücher, who fought with the Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, was nicknamed, ‘Marschall Vorwärts’ (Marshall Forwards). The German idiom ‘ran wie Blücher’: charge like Blücher! – encapsulates those with direct and aggressive attitudes.
From their very first race, at the Isle of Man TT in 1907, Norton Motorcycles established their reputation for leading the charge when they won the twin cylinder class. Between the wars Norton went on to win the TT’s senior race 10 times. From 1930 to 1937 they won 78 out of the 92 Grand Prix races that they entered.
Following World War II, the company, which had been founded in Birmingham in 1898 by James Lansdowne Norton, continued to build on its reputation for the performance and reliability of its race and road bikes with the introduction of the Dominator, and then in the late 1960s, the iconic Commando. Winning MCN’s Machine of the Year Award five years in a row, the Commando was an international success. Sadly however in 1976, Norton fell victim to market forces, like so many other legendary British marques - the last Commando was produced, and the rights to Norton eventually ended up oversees.
That is, until now! In 2009, British businessman, Stuart Garner, brought Norton home to Britain and, with the new factory located at Donington Park racing circuit, relaunched the marque with the Norton Commando 961. Combining the beautiful lines of the original machines with all the very latest engineering technology, Garner has set his sights on recreating the company’s racing glory days.
Built on their round toed Hannibal last, and named after Sir Anthony Hopkins’s portrayal of the cannibalistic serial killer, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, in The Silence of the Lambs, Jeffery~West’s Norton biker boot will eat up the road voraciously and stylishly. The Goodyear Welted sole is the classic Itshide Commando (it really could not have been anything else!), whilst the gear patch vamp is edged with Jeffery-West’s signature diamond brogue punching. Above which the seven eyelets are laced with heavily waxed laces and the rear quarter is embossed with Norton’s ‘curly N’ logo (first introduced in 1914). The red leather lining is digitally printed with Norton’s crossed Union Jack and chequered flags motif, alongside Jeffery~West’s ‘Spirit of the Sect’ lunging fencer logo. Whether worn on a Norton Commando or on the street, “some fava beans and a nice chianti” would only dilute the extreme pleasure to be gained in wearing these boots!
Norton’s advertising in the 1930s declared: The Unapproachable Norton. The Road’s Best Road Holder. Now it may be said: The Unrivalled Hannibal Norton Biker Boot - perfect for holding both the road and the eye of the beholder. Charge!