Dapol was founded in 1983 by David and Pauline Boyle who spotted an opportunity for a fresh new company to operate in the mainstream OO Model Railway market. As well as manufacturing from their Winsford site, models were produced in Hong Kong and the Far East. This arrangement has survived well for the last 32 years with Dapol justifiably proud of their UK manufacturing facility as well as its’ long term and strategic relationships with its Far East partners.
In 1985 Dapol purchased many tools and moulds from Pallitoy. The sale included many of the Airfix and Kitmaster originated OO Railway kits and the rights to use the Kitmaster brand. These tools which are well over 50 years old are still manufactured by Dapol and form the basis of the Kitmaster/Dapol range of OO kits and railway accessories. These kits are still extremely popular and are sold across the world.
In 1994 Dapol acquired a new site and moved from its old Winsford factory to a new facility in Llangollen. This would incorporate a new Railway and Doctor Who exhibition, supported by the BBC. Dapol also produced under licence Dr Who figurines and action toys including Daleks, Cybermen and the many incarnations of the `Doctor’ himself.
The Llangollen site operated successfully for a number of years, however, the UK OO gauge market was becoming increasingly competitive and a decision was made to withdraw from the UK OO locomotive market and the tools were sold to Hornby in 2000. As a testament to the quality of the Dapol tooling many of these items are still being manufactured by Hornby today.
A changing market and a decision by the BBC to withdraw its support from the Dr Who franchise in 2002 led Dapol to evaluate the UK model railway market. It was at this time and with cooperation from the N gauge Society that Dapol decided to enter the rather underwhelming UK N gauge market with its 14xx tank engine. The 14xx model was received extremely favourably by UK N gauge modellers. This and the models that followed lead to a vast improvement in the standards and quality that is now expected in this diminutive scale.
In 2003 Dapol moved to its current purpose built manufacturing site in Chirk and has expanded and doubled its operations here in the last 12 years.
Over this period Dapol have been a driving force in many key developments and have innovated and moved the UK N gauge to be competitive in terms of features and detail to its US and European cousins. Dapol for example, have been the first to offer in the UK
In 2011 Dapol launched its first OO locomotive in 12 years with its Class 22, this was followed in 2013 with the much praised Class 52 Western.
A new development team was established in 2013 and Dapol now has expertise across all areas of model production, from toolmaking and decoration to electronics and engineering.
Under the guidance of this new team, Dapol is starting to see major new developments come on line. Significantly, the launch of Dapol’s first ever O gauge locomotive in 2015, the Terrier which at its attractive price point, stunning livery and feature list was targeted at revolutionising the RTR O gauge market. So far we have estimated this is the largest selling RTR O gauge model in the UK. Following on from this success, significant model developments in O, OO and N are planned including the Black Label Range which will lead the market in terms of quality and built in features.
Dapol’s Ultimate goal is to produce quality models in three gauges and to promote the enjoyment and participation in this hobby. We want to continue innovating and to bring about new developments which delight and captivate our customers and to be successful and profitable whilst playing a responsible role within our local community.