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Sunday, 25 June 2017


In 1823 the Scottish chemist Charles Macintosh (December 29, 1766- July 25, 1843) came up with a method of producing waterproof cloth by binding together two layers of fabric with india rubber dissolved in naphtha. He achieved this after experimenting with waste rubber products from Glasgow's new gas works.

Portrait of Charles Macintosh. Before 1843, painted by J. Graham Gilbert, R.S.A

He used the waterproof cloth to make the first ever raincoats. Macintosh began selling his waterproof garments on October 12, 1823.

Macintosh was anxious to protect the secret of his new waterproof cloth so he chose Highland workers to work in his Glasgow factory as they only spoke Gaelic.

The Scottish chemist's novel "macks" proved a welcome protection against the wet. However, a flaw soon became apparent. Though the rubbery substance was resistant to rain, when exposed to extreme cold and changes of weather it became brittle, stiff and smelly.

Macintosh raincoat

In 1830 Macintosh's company merged with the clothing company of Thomas Hancock in Manchester. Hancock had also been experimenting with rubber coated fabrics and production of rubberized coats soon spread all over the UK.

Hancock further improved his waterproof fabrics, patenting a method for vulcanizing rubber in 1843 which solved many of its problems caused by changes in weather.

Hancock continued to make waterproof clothing into the 20th century. In 1925 the company was taken over by Dunlop Rubber.

Former marine Noel Bibby of Peter Storm Ltd. invented the cagoule in the early 1960s. The light water proof coat could be rolled up into a very compact package and carried in a bag or pocket. The style became very popular in the United Kingdom during the 1970s.


Source Europress Family Encyclopedia 1999.

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