Copper plates and spare prints for Walter Hancock's 'Narrative of 12 years experiments'
- about 1830
Box of copper plates and multiple spare prints for Walter Hancock's 'Narrative of 12 years experiments ...steam carriages', 1838.
Walter Hancock (1799-1852) was a member of the Hancock family of Marlborough, England. The Hancocks were a significant British family in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, known for their contributions to science, art, and industry. He is best known for designing, building and running the first commercial steam carriage in London. He developed a ‘lung-powered’ steam engine using rubberised cloth balloons, and found this engine could be used to power a carriage. The first commercial steam carriage after this design was the Infant, a passenger service that ran between Stratford and the City of London, which was introduced in 1831.
He had developed this method between 1827-1838, and published the accounts of his experiments under the title ‘Narrative of Twelve Years Experiments, 1824-36, Demonstrative of the Practicality and Advantage of Employing Steam Carriages on Common Roads’. This book documents Hancock’s process beginning with the development of the novel steam engine using rubberised canvas, and concluding with accounts of successful experiments which he felt truly demonstrated the value and potential of steam-powered road locomotives such as the Infant. The accounts were illustrated with a variety of figures, including detailed diagrams of components and complete carriages, and drawings of carriages in use.
This object is part of a collection relating to the Hancock family, acquired in 2018 from a descendant and family historian of the Hancocks. The collection comprises portraits covering 4 generations of the Hancock family, personal and business archives, and a series of related objects. Thomas Hancock is the centre of the story – inventor of the patent masticator and founder of the British rubber industry. The Hancock company ran until the 1930s, led by Thomas’s nephew and assistant, James Lyne Hancock, and then a great nephew John Hancock Nunn.