ICI Exhibition Booklet - Flipbook - Page 12
Dyes, Colours and Coatings 1953-2008
‘We roam the world looking for new ideas’
– Philip Hanscombe, Managing Director
ICI Paints Division, 1986
Procion dyes – the first reactive dyes
During the 1950s, the world was still searching for colourfast dyes and ICI would not be left behind, screening around
3,000 a year. Working on wool, Dr W E Stephen and Ian
Rattee decided to modify existing dyes to react with the
wool, creating a covalent link. They found themselves using
a reaction known as a ‘Schotten Baumann’ and realised
that, while it wouldn’t work on wool, it might work with
cotton, as the hydroxyl groups in the material would make
the perfect reaction site. That same day, the first reactive
dyes were born.
Initially, the dyes were highly reactive to water and had low
shelf lives. After exhaustive research and development, this
was extended to 8–12 months and ICI commissioned 1 tonne
each of the promising ‘red’, ‘blue’, and ‘yellow’ shades.
Launched in 1956, Procion dyes were suitable for continuous
fabric dyeing, after a small preliminary setback owing to faulty
machinery. The dyes enjoyed early high sales in Japan, the USA,
and Scandinavia, before being followed by India, Brazil, and
Pakistan as major consumers.
‘Procion circuses’ of travelling ICI technical and sales staff
became a direct link between the consumer and ICI, so
international clientele could receive marketing and information
without waiting. By 1967, two new specially-designed plants
with a capacity of 1,500 tonnes each had been built to meet
Dulux – brilliant white
In 1948, the Sherman anti-trust act disbanded NCF, DuPont and
ICI’s joint company, thereby ending their shared information
agreement, including alkyl paints. By 1953, the first alkyl paints
were on the market, under Dulux ‘brilliant white paint’ to the
consumer and Glidden to major contractors.
Combined general and specific marketing allowed Dulux to take
over the paint world. Ads tailored to a segregated consumer
base were incorporated with in-store information, directing
the consumer from the ground level. TV, radio, and poster
materials were produced to inform and advertise customers.
Through the 1960s, the DIY boom was in full swing and
the new, ‘Dulux dog’ was the perfect promotional material
to increase memorability and branding (it was so successful
that it took over the common name for the breed). This period
marks the advent of products being marketed directly to the
customer rather than professionals. ICI realised women were
the key demographic and ‘the authority when deciding home
decor’ and targeted Dulux marketing accordingly. By the 1990s,
Dulux was the cornerstone of paint, occupying ¼ of the total
British market and 50–60% of emulsions.
‘Many people think of ICI as Dulux; the brand gives the
company a humanity’
British Dyestuffs Corporation
Water Colour by A. Knighton-Hampton, 1919
Image Copyright of ICI
Dalton Works Azo Colour Shed
Water Colour by Arthur Knighton-Hammond, 1918
- Philip Hanscombe
Image Copyright of ICI
The first synthetic dye was discovered in 1856 by Sir William Henry
of SCI and SCI President 1884–85.
When he was just 18, in an attempt to synthesise quinine, he created mauveine,
a substance with an intense purple colour which would replace the dyes that
were previously obtained from flower petals, roots and crushed beetles.
Perkin established his own dye makers company, which became part of British
Alizarine Co and was integetrated into ICI 1931.
The SCI Perkin Medal was established in 1906 to commeorate the 50th
anniversary of the discovery of mauveine and has been awarded annually
ever since. The first medal was presented to Perkin himself, in New York.