The Hancocks of Marlborough: Rubber, Art and the Industrial Revolution - A Family of Inventive Genius

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This book began with the aim of telling the almost forgotten story of Thomas Hancock, the rubber developer who in his own day was acknowledged as one of the great scientific pioneers of the Industrial Revolution. But as research progressed, it was clear that Thomas and his five brothers, the Hancocks of Marlborough, together constituted a unique family which made a tremendous yet virtually unknown contribution to nineteenth-century science and art. Walter designed and ran the first steam carriages to carry passengers on the common roads of England and so began the age of mechanized transport. Thomas founded the UK rubber industry when he discovered how to vulcanize rubber reliably; his company survived for some 120 years before being taken over. Charles was a well established painter who was also instrumental in the manufacture of gutta percha-coated undersea cables, used by the electric telegraph to begin the global information highway. Other brothers, John, James and William all made significant contributions to the development of Victorian science and culture. This book tells the story of the family and the remarkable people in it, from the Great Fire of Marlborough in 1653 to the present day, using the Hancock family archive of many unpublished and previously unknown documents.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"It's an intriguing family-business history - great-aunts and all, across five generations - that illuminates the impact of business dealings on fraternal relationships. Besides the family history, the book is a treasure house for anyone interested in inventors and how they managed their intellectual property prior to the reform and consolidation in 1852 of the UK's patent system."—Physics Today
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199573554
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 11/23/2009
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

John Loadman took his master's degree in organic chemistry from the University of Durham in 1987. He has since been an analytical chemist with the Natural Rubber Producers' Research Association, done conservation work with museums and art galleries on artworks containing rubber, and is an expert on early rubber manufacturing techniques and history of rubber development.

Francis James was educated at Marsh Court Preparatory school and Kings College Taunton, and is a qualified teacher. After some years as an antiquarian bookseller, he moved on to historic building conservation. He has written several books including The EMG Story, and is now the leading authority on the English handmade gramophone. His hobby, like his life, is saving the past and recording it for the future.

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Table of Contents

1. Marlborough, Wiltshire - Roots
2. The Hancocks Gather in London
3. From Seawater to Steam
4. Life, Death, and Bankruptcy
5. The Family, the Law, and the End of a Dream
6. Life's Ups and Downs
7. A New Industry
8. Gutta Percha Comes to Town
9. The Great Hose Controversy
10. 'The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations
11. Back to the Courts
12. A Life of Ease
13. Death and Depositions
14. Marlborough Cottage and the Great Aunts
15. The Hancock Legacy
16. James Lyne Hancock & Co
Epilogue: Thoughts on a Dynasty
Appendix I: The fourteen patents of Thomas Hancock 'for the treatment and application of INDIA RUBBER'
Appendix II: Mechanical Applications of Vulcanized India Rubber as described by Thomas Hancock
Appendix III: Technical Development of the Rubber Industry 1850-1950

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