The Heritage & History of Portwest
Founded in 1904 by Charles Hughes, the son of a small farmer on Ireland's Wild Atlantic Coast. He opened a retail store in on Bridge Street in Westport, Co. Mayo after purchasing the store for just £100.
Although the company is now renowned globally for it's workwear and PPE, it is still owned and managed by the Hughes family in Westport.
From its early beginnings as the fledgling Charles Hughes store, nestling under the mighty shadow of Croagh Patrick, Portwest - The Outdoor Shop has served the people of Mayo and beyond, with the best value and quality in outdoor clothing and footwear, for over a century.
We remain humble and proud of our heritage and our history in the West of Ireland and pride ourselves as an authentic Irish Brand with 199 years’ experience in producing outdoor clothing.
Today Portwest has stores in Westport, Galway and Killarney. The Portwest outdoor clothing range is designed in Westport and we continues to develop clothing that deliver peak protection to you in the great outdoors.
When Charles Hughes set up his shop on Bridge Street in 1904, he could not have envisaged such a turbulent future. He was committed to the Land War and national struggle, which led to Charles and his staff being intimidated, arrested and imprisoned. Westport was a place of great unrest in early 1920s. Like many other homes and businesses, his shop was ransacked and bombed.
The company has been a witness to history over the past 119 years and today we are as committed to community development as Charles Hughes and his colleagues were in the past. Below is a timeline of our founding father's journey to see Westport Prosper and the story behind how our brand developed:
CHARLES HUGHES TIMELINE
Mr. Charles Hughes and Miss Jennie Armstrong Wedding photograph 17 August 1904
• 1904 - Charles Hughes buys Lennon's footwear shop for £100 in August and expands into drapery in October.
• 1916 - Charles Hughes, his brother Owen and nephew Paddy are arrested and interned in Wales for eight months.
• 1917 - Charles Hughes' nephew and shop assistant, Paddy Hughes, age 18, drowns at Westport Quay on 7 August.
• 1919 - Charles Hughes Wholesale founded on Mill Street (now The Mariner hotel).
• 1920 - Charles Hughes 'on the run' from November 1920 until May 1922.
• 1921 - Crown forces bomb the Charles Hughes shop and wreck his home on 23 March. Mrs. Jennie Hughes holds a salvage sale of any remaining stock on 30 April.
This advertisement is after the Crown forces bombed Charles’ shop. the Mayo News 30 April 1921
• 1922 - Charles Hughes holds a 'Great New Opening' sale on 6 May after reconstructing his shop.
• 1933 - Charles Hughes introduces his first brand "An Chruach" (Irish name for “The Reek” the local name for Croagh Patrick)
• 1936 - Pádraig Hughes, nephew of Charles Hughes, joined the business. Pádraig, the father of our current owners - Owen, Harry and Cathal, later took over Charles Hughes Limited from his granduncle.
Padraig Hughes, nephew of Charles Hughes and his wife, Márie Hughes (née Kelly), daughter of PJ Kelly
• 1984 - The Portwest brand name is registered.
• 1986 - A number of styles introduced in the Portwest brand & the first use of the Portwest brand on company letterheads
• 1992 - Mountain Logo introduced. Portwest first garments made in China.
• 1993 - Westport shop after the name changed from Charles Hughes to Portwest
• 1999 - Westport Clothing Ltd becomes Portwest Ltd. on 15 March. Logo redesigned.
• 2013 - Portwest launch a complete collection of outdoor clothing in the Heritage Collection
• 2014 - Portwest celebrates 110 years in business and the Hughes family host a Heritage themed day in Westport. They launch of a commemorative book in that celebrates the rich history of the business from its humble beginnings and the political, social and economic obstacles they have faced.i
In the same year Portwest opened the Galway store on High Street in the former Kenny’s bookshop and art gallery.
• 2017 - Portwest open new 3,000 square feet shop at 94 New Street, Killarney
• 2020 - Portwest launches new website - TheOutdoorShop.ie to sell their range of outdoor clothing in their strive to become 'Ireland's favourite Outdoor Retailer'.
• 2021 - Portwest announced as the latest commercial partner with Mayo GAA. This five-year sponsorship deals results in the Portwest logo on the back of all Mayo jerseys. Logo rebranded.
• 2022 - Portwest Opens Newly Refurbished Flagship Store