PRA History


“PRA in my opinion is unique. Looking at other similar organisations around the world I don't see any one with anything like it its history, its tradition, its depth and its influence ”
J.R. Rackham, PRA President, 1985
  • 1926
  • Establishment of PRA. Dr L A Jordan appointed as Director
  • 1927
  • First Technical Report – on tung oil
  • 1931
  • First commissioned research contract – on lithopone
  • 1944
  • Construction of electron microscope
  • 1954
  • First in-house Symposium
  • 1956
  • First training course
  • 1960
  • Second Director: Dr Leslie Valentine
  • 1963
  • Extension of membership to overseas firms
  • 1965
  • Extension of membership to paint users
  • 1968
  • Third Director: Dr G Anderson
  • 1970
  • Conductive paint invention
  • 1971
  • Change of name to "Paint Research Association"
  • 1977
  • Opening of PRA Council to overseas Members
  • 1981
  • World Surface Coatings Abstracts (WSCA) goes on-line
  • 1986
  • Fourth Managing Director: John Bernie
  • 1986
  • First overseas conference (Brussels)
  • 1988
  • First EU contract (Self-Stratifying Coatings)
  • 1993
  • Launch of business journal Coatings COMET
  • 1994
  • First PRA Research Symposium
  • 1995
  • PRA on Internet
  • 1996
  • Purchase of Atomic Force Microscope
  • 1999
  • Fifth Managing Director: Chris Storey
  • 2001
  • 75 years of service to the coatings industry
  • 2001
  • Sixth Managing Director: John Marshall
  • 2005
  • PRA relocated from Teddington to the Coatings Technology Centre in Hampton
  • 2006
  • Seventh Managing Director: Jonathan Bourne

In April 1926, some far-sighted industry leaders resolved to place paint research on a collaborative footing and so on 23 September 1926 the Research Association of British Paint, Colour and Varnish Manufacturers was born.

The man who had moved the original resolution, Samuel Kerr Thornley, became PRA’s first President and Louis Jordan was appointed as the first Director. The first two Members were Cellon Ltd and Naylor Bros, later to become part of International Paint.

Much of our early work concentrated on characterisation and measurement of novel materials and pioneering work on microbiology and colour during the 1950s and 60s was internationally acclaimed.

The inventive impulse reached new heights under Dr Anderson with the development of products such as conductive heating paint, mirror paint and a fibre optics colorimeter. Few materials escaped PRA investigation, be they eggshell for grit-blasting or resins from sugar and rocks.

A return to larger and more fundamental investigations became the top priority under John Bernie's stewardship. Research into driers, corrosion mechanisms and wood protection were among the early projects. At the same time, collaborative research took on a new meaning with the award of several EC grants, notably the innovative project on self-stratifying coatings.

PRA's Coatings Technology Centre in Hampton PRA achieved a high international profile during the 1990s with its active conference and training programme and expanding global membership.

In 2005, PRA moved from Teddington to nearby Hampton, to newly built premises to be known as the Coatings Technology Centre (pictured), close to the River Thames.

In 2006 PRA celebrated 80 years of service to the worldwide coatings industry, confident in our ability to be the essential connector to the coatings industry in the 21st century.