The recent IRC in London, inter alia, commemorated the bicentenary in 1820 of the invention of his most important device, the ‘rubber masticator’, with a display of a replica of the machine.
Hancock’s machine had at its heart a set of revolving teeth that tore up rubber scraps. To Hancock’s surprise, the shredded bits adhered into a solid mass of rubber that could then be pressed in moulds into solid blocks or rolled into sheets. The masticator, which was perfected in 1821, made rubber manufacture commercially practical and gave birth to the rubber industry. Hancock called his machine a “pickle” and kept the masticating process a secret for 10 years
Thomas Hancock and his brother Walter, who also played a major role in the evolution of the British rubber industry, were born in Marlborough and there is a blue plaque commemorating both on no 4 the High Street, where they once lived and which is now a butcher’s shop. This was unveiled by the Director of the British Rubber Manufacturers’ Association, BRPPA’s predecessor, some 20 years ago. Unfortunately the shop burnt down a few months later but the shop was rebuilt and the plaque proudly re-erected.