Heritage of Latex
In the 1900’s British scientists invented foam from latex, which has made a dramatic impact on everyday life. The level of comfort in furnishings that we now take for granted came directly from the work of a Dunlop scientist, Mr. E A Murphy, who used an unlikely tool, his wife’s Hobart cake mixer, in his quest to produce a foam from natural liquid latex. He spent five years researching the problem, struggling to find a way to create and keep all important bubbles in the flexible material. Finally in January 1929 he discovered, almost by accident, that whipping into the latex and then using a gel agent
achieved his desired result. Even today the machines resemble giant cake mixers. Latex foam was first used in public transport, replacing hard wooden seating in trams, trains and trolley buses . The aircraft industry also welcomed latex foam to pad cockpits and for seating. In 1931 the first mattresses were being made. At a time when many middle class families were no longer employing live-in servants, the fact that their latex pillows didn’t need to be plumped, or mattresses turned, were key selling points. The Second World War slowed down the furnishings revolution. The only way for asthma
sufferers and those with bad backs to get a coveted latex mattress was by doctor’s prescription. In 1943 Dunlop plantations in Malaysia were ravaged by the Japanese occupation, and it was several years before the production of latex foam could be restored to pre-war level. In 1955, foam achieved national fame when it was used to make a special seat for Donald Campbell’s water speed record-breaking craft, the Bluebird. During the Fifties, latex foam seating was also installed in the refurbished House of Parliament. In 1960 Pin core block foam was patented in the UK by Leon Talalay at Goodrich. This incorporated all the basics as we now know them-mechanical foaming, vacuum expansion, freezing and gelling with CO2. In 1965 The Talalay production process commenced at Pannal the modern home of Dunlopillo UK in the north of England. Today, latex foam has a world reputation for being an enduring, high quality luxury product. With our greater general awareness and interest in health, consumers appreciate its naturally antibacterial and anti-fungal properties as well as the fact it offers supreme comfort and support which are so essential to rejuvenate and revitalize us.