EIGHTY YEARS AND COUNTING...
We started in 1933 in a small shop on Conran Street in Harpurhey, Manchester and quickly established ourselves as the place to visit to have boots expertly made and fitted and to decide on that important personalised nailing pattern! Over the years, Ellis Brigham shops were always first to sell the latest innovations, seeing clothing move from Ventile, to neoprene coated nylon and then to GORE-TEX fabrics. Footwear soon lost the nails and grew Vibram soles whilst leather uppers became suede and nylon and incorporated GORE-TEX liners.
Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports is still going strong and is still proudly family owned. We’ve got the world’s best brands and amazing products that will make your time spent in the mountains even more rewarding. Across the UK we now have 24 fantastic shops with friendly, knowledgeable staff who are all enthusiastic about the outdoors and understand implicitly your needs. Ellis Brigham’s shops really do bring the spirit of the mountains to the high street so check us out, we have mountains of experience!
Frederick Ellis Brigham set up business making walking boots and cycling shoes in a tiny ‘two up, two down’ building on the outskirts of Manchester. A photograph (below) of FEB captures the spirit of the age: “...the trilby, which was hardly ever off, was the modern day baseball cap of its time. His pants and jacket are Harris Tweed, as that was virtually all you could get at the time. His shirt would be Harris Tweed also. He is wearing Scottish beaters’ shoes with huge toe spring which made striding the fells easier and walking was a rocking-along motion. There would be a leather flap over the front lacing for extra weather protection. He always wore a pencil behind his ear. He’s holding a pair of his hand made sandals. In the shop door window are for sale Bartholomews folded fabric maps of the nearby Pennines & Lake District. The shop window has rubber wellingtons for the local trade, hand made spiked running shoes, hand knitted Harris Tweed wool socks and a rucksack by R.Burns Ltd - the best rucksack maker of the day being technically superior to the rival Brown Best rucksacks.”
After the war, as mountain walking and climbing became more and more popular, the shop began to sell ex WD climbing equipment. This was the era of government surplus items like ex-army rucksacks, snow shoes for 2/6d per pair and skis for 30/- a pair. Mr. Brigham's boots with their special nailing patterns became very sought after.
As more and more British climbers began to visit the Alps, the Brigham family began to visit the alpine valleys to buy the latest mountaineering equipment, and exotic French climbing hardware and Italian boots began to appear on the shelves of Ellis Brigham’s Manchester shop. Sadly Frederick Brigham died before the end of the fifties and the business was taken over by eldest son Bob, soon to be joined by younger brother Ellis.
A milestone year in Ellis Brigham’s history with the opening of the Manchester city centre shop in Cathedral Street and the publication of the first F. Ellis Brigham customer catalogue. This catalogue featured clothing, footwear and equipment for mountaineering, rock climbing, camping and skiing which was beginning to gain a following.
Four Ellis Brigham shops across the country with a thriving outdoor and mountaineering business and a growing interest in skiing. At this time we were in a unique position, whereby all technical developments in mountain and snow sports equipment were to be seen first in Ellis Brigham shops and catalogues: the first lightweight EB rock shoes, the first modern nylon climbing rope, the first plastic ski boots and the first fibreglass and metal skis.
Eight Ellis Brigham shops throughout the country. Outdoor and mountain sports are hugely popular and skiing is positively booming. Clothing and equipment shows incredible technical development. Outdoor clothing companies become more sophisticated with brands such as Berghaus and The North Face establishing a strong market presence and fabrics such as GORETEX and polarfleece setting new industry standards. Key year is 1986 when the first of Ellis Brigham’s White Book winter sports consumer catalogues was published, setting a standard previously unseen in the outdoor retail marketplace.The first snowboards to be sold in the UK appeared in Ellis Brigham shops and catalogues at this time.
Eleven Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports shops throughout the country. Outdoor and wintersports clothing hugely popular both as functional outdoor garments and as cutting edge youth fashion. Snowboarding begins to gain momentum and Ellis Brigham establish The Snowboard Asylum shop in shop areas. The first Snowboard Asylum catalogue appears and again sets the industry standard. The Ellis Brigham spring/summer outdoor catalogue is relaunched as The Green Book. And then came the internet… in 1996 www.ellis-brigham.com was launched, initially with just basic contact and shop information, it quickly lead to a full e-commerce website.
Fully secure online shop implemented, 13 stores nationwide with our shop opening at the new Xscape indoor snow complex in Milton Keynes.
The old YHA shop in Covent Garden, that had made the area such an important outdoor enthusiasts’ destination for so many years, closed giving us the opportunity to pick up the baton and reinvent the way in which outdoor sports was retailed. We made the move from our smaller store on Southampton St. and opened what is still regarded as one of the leading outdoor and snowsports stores in Europe. This massive space houses the most comprehensive range of specialist products and some of the most knowledgeable staff in the industry, it is also home to our very own indoor Ice climbing wall! This move brought another opportunity and our old store became Europe’s first stand-alone The North Face Store. The two stores combined make Southampton St., Covent Garden a real outdoor enthusiasts Mecca. Interestingly in 1967 Bob Brigham was at the official opening of the first TNF store in Berkeley, San Francisco, USA, and this London store opening cemented a very long standing (and ongoing) relationship with The North Face.
Spring 2003/Winter 2004
We open shops at Castleford Xscape near Leeds with its huge real snow indoor slope. We have since consolidated into one massive store covering snowsports, mountaineering, trekking and travel.
Our second store opens in Milton Keynes Xscape. Concentrating on hiking, climbing & adventure travel - the shop also houses a huge climbing wall.
Xscape Braehead Glasgow opens and we have two stores there: one massive shop dedicated to all things snowsports and a second catering for all your mountaineering, trekking and travel needs.
Westfield London invite us to open two units in their prestigious Shepherd’s Bush development. Again we partner with The North Face to open a standalone store. Opposite we open a massive two floor Ellis Brigham store.
We open the world’s first Mountain Equipment Store in Manchester City Centre on the site of the city’s oldest outdoor store (211 Deansgate).
Two new stores open at the prestigious One New Change development at St. Paul’s, Central London, bringing a focussed Ellis Brigham offer to the heart of The City. Again the second shop is a The North Face Store.
Following our successful opening at Westfield London, they invite us to open two joined stores in Westfield Stratford: an Ellis Brigham shop adjoining The North Face Store. Located on “The Street” these stores put both brands in front of the massive International audience visiting the Olympic Games in 2012.
Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports is 80 years old! We are still proudly family owned and the company is still passionately driven by Bob and Ellis Brigham; now ably assisted by sons Robert and Mark; the next generation.