The 19th century industrial expansion throughout eastern America
was no more evident than in the Massachusetts/Connecticut areas
and here we find our first reference to Nathaniel Hayward, where
he was working for the Eagle Rubber Company in the 1830’s.
The firm was not successful and in 1838 Hayward took it over himself.
It was he who interested Goodyear
in rubber/sulphur mixes when they met at Eagle Rubber, now located
in Woburn, Massachusetts where it had moved to from Easton, Pennsylvania
in 1838. Hayward had discovered that dusting rubber sheets with
sulphur, or painting the surfaces of the sheets with solutions
of sulphur in turpentine and exposing them to sunlight (a process
he called "solarisation") “causes the gum to dry
more perfectly and to improve the whole substance thereof rendering
it much superior to that prepared by any other combination therewith”.
This he patented in 1838 (US Patent
1090 granted 1839) and immediately assigned to Goodyear. Apparently
he did not make a success of his company as he soon turned the
factory itself over to Goodyear and agreed to work for him there.
Ironically the first person to take out a license to manufacture
rubber goods under Goodyear's vulcanization patent was Hayward
but he soon transferred this to Gandee and Steele of New Haven,
Connecticut in 1843 and their company went on to become part of
the United States Rubber Co. in 1892.
In 1844 Hayward and Burr established the Hayward Rubber Company
at Lisbon, Connecticut. From here rubber products, boots, and
shoes were shipped all over the country and, although Hayward
retired in 1864 because of ill health, the company thrived until
1893 when it was closed and later the building burned to the ground.
In the centre of this region (about 60 miles north east of new
York) is the rural settlement of Colchester which was founded
in 1698. In 1706, the first street was laid out and by 1714, there
were some 50 families in town. By 1756 Colchester was one of the
most thriving rural towns in the Colony. Its population was recorded
as 2,300 inhabitants and by 1782 had grown to 3,300.
This small town, today with a population of around 10,000, has
a unique place in the history of rubber. In the churchyard is
a tombstone and memorial to Hayward, the latter in the shape of
a 10ft high concrete rubber tree trunk whilst the former identifies
him as the inventor of hard rubber:
This claim appears tenuous. Leuchs
in Germany had probably made hard rubber (ebonite, vulcanite)
in 1831 but had not realised what he had done whilst the work
of Ludersdorf mirrored but preceded
that of Hayward. The most valid claim is probably the patent by
which described a horn-like material which resulted from heating
rubber in molten sulphur for several hours at 155-160C. Hancock
realised he had a useful material!
Nevertheless, Hayward does have every right to a memorial identifying
his role in bringing together Goodyear, rubber and sulphur; a
combination without which the industrial revolution would have
ground to a halt very quickly (but check out the importance (?)
of Mr Eli!).