Original rubber seeds brought by Sir Henry Wickham from Peru, 1876.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Rubber is a natural polymer, harvested from a tropical tree, Hevea Brasiliensis indigenous to South America. The indigenous inhabitants had used it for centuries to make rubber balls, galoshes and waterproof cloaks, long before it reached Britain in the late 1700s. The two seeds were part of a batch of 70,000 brought to England from the Amazon by Sir Henry Wickham (1846-1928) in 1876. These were used to establish rubber plantations in Malaya.