Dapol Ltd is a Welsh model railway manufacturer based in Chirk, Wales. For many years Dapol sold 'OO' scale model
trains, producing lots of wagons, coaches and locomotives with
great success. They then turned their attention to N scale. Eventually an 'O' scale range was developed consisting
of wagons that featured extremely high detail including sprung buffers, 3-link couplings, die-cast chassis and free
running wheels. They also featured highly detailed bodies with opening side doors on the open wagons. Dapol wagons
were also available as weathered variations. Dapol also produced high quality 'O' scale locomotives which were available in
both DC and DCC-Sound versions.
Dapol was originally founded in 1983 by David and Pauline Boyle who had identified an opportunity
for a fresh new company to operate in the mainstream 'OO' Model Railway market. Dapol's name is a play on its founders
David and Pauline Boyle's names. He originally owned a model concern called Highfield Birds & Models. In 1981 he first
tried to buy the Airfix and Mainline ranges. The Dapol brand name was first used in a Railway Modeller advertisement in
September 1983. The first Dapol wagons in 'OO' were announced to become available on 20 November 1983. As well as
manufacturing from a site in Winsford, models were produced in Hong Kong and the Far East. This arrangement survived
well for 32 years with Dapol justifiably proud of their UK manufacturing facility as well as itsí long term and
strategic relationships with its Far East partners. In 1984 Dapol introduced its 'OO' L&YR Pug, the Austerity 0-6-0ST
and the GWR Hawksworth County. At this time the operation was headquartered in Navigation Road, Northwich.
In 1985 Dapol purchased the Mainline tooling and molds 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 were 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 were extremely popular and were sold around the world.
The Dapol Model Railways catalog for 1988 was 32 pages. Dapol released its 'OO' scale
LB&SCR Terrier locomotive in 1988. The company continued to grow rapidly, adding more and more products. By 1989
the catalog had grown to 56 pages. In February 1989 Dapol acquired the former
Trix/British Liliput range from Ernest Rosza. The Dapol 1989
catalogue also showed that the Model-Land building range had been bought. In 1993 Dapol purchased the
Wrenn product line.
In 1994 Dapol acquired a new site and moved to a new facility in Llangollen, Denbighshire. Shortly after,
a huge fire destroyed the old Winsford factory in Cheshire, and large quantities of products and historical
Wrenn material were destroyed. The new site incorporated a new railway and the Doctor Who
Experience exhibition, supported by the BBC. Under licence, Dapol also produced 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. Much of this tooling
was sold to Hornby in 1996. As a testament to the quality of the Dapol tooling many of these items
continued to be manufactured by Hornby.
Dapol 'OO' gauge Coaching Stock
In 1998 the company came under the control of a new board of directors headed by George Smith.
In 2001 Dapol sold the little-exploited Wrenn product line and trading name to three Wrenn collectors.
The changing market and a decision by the BBC to withdraw its support from the Dr. Who franchise in
2002 led Dapol to re-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 favorably by UK N gauge modellers. This and the models that followed led to a vast improvement in
the standards and quality that was expected by hobbyists in this diminutive scale.
In 2003 Dapol moved to a new purpose-built manufacturing site in Chirk and expanded and
doubled its operations there over the next 12 years. Over this period Dapol became a driving force in many key developments
and innovated and moved the UK N gauge to be competitive in terms of features and detail to its US and European counterparts.
Dapol for example, was the first to offer in the UK directional and interior lights, DCC compatibility, and NEM pockets
and magnetic auto couplers on all locomotives. The growing range of Dapol N gauge includes locomotives, coaches and
wagons. Dapol is the main competitor of Graham Farish in the British 'ready-to-run' market. LED lighting strips for
coaching stock is yellow for 'older' coaches, to represent incandescent illumination, and white for more modern coaches
and EMUs to represent fluorescent fittings.
Dapol N gauge Coaching Stock
In 2004 Dapol was awarded the 'UK Small Business of the Year' award and
in 2007 Dapol was awarded the Model Rail Magazine 'N-gauge Manufacturer of the Year' award. In 2010, following the
retirement of previous Managing Director George Smith, Dapol welcomed a new managing director, Joel Bright, a director
for the previous eight years and uncle of then owner, Craig Boyle.
In 2011 Dapol announced its first new 'OO' gauge locomotive in 12 years with its Class 22 diesel, but
it was not released until after a Sentinel Shunter, commissioned by Model Rail Magazine, was released in July 2011, and
a Beattie well tank commissioned by Kernow Model Shop in September 2011. The class 22 was ultimately released in November
2011 closely followed by a Hattons commissioned LMS 10000 diesel model. The class 22 was followed in 2013 with the much
praised Class 52 Western. Dapol also produced a British Rail Class 390 model - the 390001 Virgin Pioneer.
Dapol 'OO' gauge Freight Wagons
Dapol's 'OO' line includes ready-to-run locomotives, wagons and kits. Kits are molded in grey plastic
(polystyrene) and the range features buildings, road vehicles, wagons and locomotives. Some of the kits use the molds
that were originally acquired in 1993 from the Airfix company, some of which in turn originated with Kitmaster prior to
being bought by Airfix in 1962. Others have come from the Lines Brothers Model-Land range. In addition to standard
versions of wagons, in the modern era Dapol also offered a collection of wagons with NEM couplings, finer wheels, and
detailing. Wagons came in 4, 5 and 7-plank versions, which have appeared not only in company liveries, but also in
private owner liveries.
For the first time Dapol released a 7 plank ready to run wagon in 'O' gauge in 2011.
A new development team was established in 2013 and Dapol now had expertise across all areas of model
production, from toolmaking and decoration to electronics and engineering. Under the guidance of the new team, Dapol was
starting to see major new developments come on line. Significantly, the launch of Dapolís first ever 'O' gauge locomotive
in 2015, the Terrier which at its attractive price point, stunning livery and feature list was targeted at revolutionizing
the RTR 'O' gauge market. Dapol estimated that this was the largest selling RTR 'O' gauge model in the UK. Following on
from this success, significant model developments in 'O', 'OO' and N were planned including the Black Label Range which
was targeted to lead the market in terms of quality and built-in features.
Dapolís Ultimate goal was to produce quality models in 3 gauges and to promote the enjoyment and
participation of the model railroading hobby. Dapol continues to innovate and bring about new developments
to delight and captivate their customers and to be successful and profitable whilst playing a responsible role
within their local community in the United Kingdom.