Obituary – Professor Claude Hepburn CEng FIMMM

Fellows' Lounge
28 Apr 2017

Professor Claude Hepburn CEng FIMMM - 1935–2017

It is with great sadness that we report that Professor Claude Hepburn CEng FIMMM passed away aged 81 on 18 January 2017. Claude was a stalwart of the Rubber in Engineering Group (RIEG) of the IOM3 for nearly half a century and was chairman of the group for a significant amount of this time. With Claude at the helm the RIEG has always been a vibrant and lively community and the regular meetings that he built up over the years reflect his character for being informal, fun and informative. The last time most of the RIEG saw Claude was at our most recent two-day Conference on Innovations in Rubber in December 2016, where Claude was in particularly fine form.

Claude went to Boroughmuir High School in Edinburgh, and married his childhood sweetheart Lyn at the tender age of just 15. They had five children together Neill, Eric, Roderick, Stella and Rhoda, from whom there are currently 12 grandchildren. He studied chemistry at Herriot Watt University, UK. Claude moved into the rubber industry by working for a year after graduation at the National College of Rubber Technology in London (now part of London Metropolitan University). He started working in the rubber industry in 1958, initially for the North British Rubber Company. From there he went to Midland Silicones in 1961, RAPRA Technology Ltd in Shawbury from 1964 then on to JH Fenner’s in Hull. From 1969 until 1991 he held an academic position at Loughborough University, UK, in the Institute of Polymer Technology where he lectured in rubber materials, rubber compounding and design of rubber products. While there, he took a sabbatical at the University of Cambridge (Clare College) where he studied for an MSc in Materials. He also completed a DSc awarded by Loughborough University. From 1992 until his retirement in 2001, he was the Professor of Polymer Engineering at the University of Ulster, UK, rising to the position of Head of the Department of Engineering.

Aside from Claude’s, the longest memory on the RIEG only goes back as far as 1991 and by then Claude had been involved in the group’s activities for more than 20 years. He was a totem for the UK rubber community and his contribution was vast. No rubber library is complete without a copy of Rubber Technology & Manufacture or Polyurethane Elastomers, the latter of which has more than 1,300 citations on Google Scholar. His contribution was recognised by IOM3 with the award of the Hancock medal in 1993. He will be sadly missed by all of us who worked with him and who, like me, enjoyed his company over a pint of beer or a glass of wine.

Professor James Busfield (Chairman of the RIEG)