INTERNATIONAL IS MARKING its 140th anniversary this year as global producer of marine, protective and yacht coatings

From humble beginnings mixing paint by hand in a Newcastle shipyard on the River Tyne, UK in 1881, International has grown to become a global leader in marine coatings, employing more than 2,000 people. Its products coat commercial, military and pleasure craft, while protecting large scale steel structures on land and at sea.

Alongside partner Charles Petrie, the brothers Albert and Max Holzapfel spotted an opportunity in the booming shipyards in the north of England and targeted owners and builders with their products.

Global demand saw overseas production begin eight years later – in Russia, with manufacturing facilities in nine countries including Sweden, Japan and the US by 1914.

A new factory was built in Felling, Gateshead, which the company still uses.

During World War Two, International serviced Allied naval fleets and supplied coatings for military hardware.


Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the brand continued to expand globally, responding to demand from the Asia Pacific region before it was bought by AkzoNobel in 1998.

For the last two decades, it has led the way in sustainability. In 2002, International was one of the first major coatings suppliers to cease using TBTs (Tributyltin), six years before they were banned. Four years later, it became the first major marine coatings stop supplying coatings containing coal tar and in 2011, it was first to completely phase out the use of lead chromates.

International is bringing its history to life with a new website, See