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 led 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