Prof Claude Hepburn

Rubber in Engineering Group
6 Feb 2017
Claude and Lyn outside 10 Downing Street

It is with great sadness that we report that Prof Claude Hepburn FIMMM has 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 that most of the RIEG saw Claude was at our most recent two-day Conference on Innovations in Rubber in Dec 2016, where Claude was in particularly fine form.

Claude went to Boroughmuir High School in Edinburgh, married his childhood sweetheart Lyn at the tender age of just 15. They had 5 children together: Neill, Eric, Roderick, Stella and Rhoda from whom there are currently 12 grandchildren. He studied chemistry at Herriot Watt University. Claude moved into the rubber industry by working for a year after graduation at the National Rubber College Technology in London (now part of London Metropolitan University). After this 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, From1969 until 1991 he held an academic position at Loughborough in the Institute of Polymer Technology where he lectured in rubber materials, rubber compounding and design of rubber products. Whilst there he took a sabbatical at Cambridge University (Clare College) where he studied for an MSc in Materials. He also completed a DSc awarded by Loughborough. From 1992 until retirement in 2001 he was the Professor of Polymer Engineering at the University of Ulster rising to the position as 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 groups activities for more than 20 years already. 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 1300 citations on Google Scholar. His contribution was recognised by the 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.

Prof James Busfield (Chairman of the RIEG)