Blast from the Past: Dapol

Tony Stratford continues the story, resuming from the demise of the Mainline range after the owners of Palitoy pulled the plug!

Regular readers of this series will already have become familiar with the many twists and turns that occurred in the past with companies and tooling changing hands at regular intervals.

Many of the names we have featured have been from companies that are no longer in business. In this case we find ourselves dealing with a company that was instrumental in securing the former Airfix range together with the tooling from several other companies but one that is still very active in the development and manufacturing of the current products in N, OO and O gauges. That is, however, outside the scope of our historical remit.

Dapol Class 56 diesel in Winsford box but carries the Mainline logo on the chassis. This model dates from around 1985. Photo by Tony Stratford

We will concentrate on the company’s involvement with some of the names already covered in this series, particularly Airfix and Mainline. Dapol also produced its own products in the 1980s to challenge Hornby and Mainline before acquiring the tooling of the Model Land range from Tri-ang, the Trix/Liliput products and those from G & R Wrenn.

The emergence of Dapol

From the 1970s husband and wife David and Pauline (first name Thelma) Boyle were operating a retail business in Winsford, Cheshire, which involved the importing and selling of exotic cage birds as well as selling model railway equipment.

They had previously owned a pet shop in Warrington that had originally begun life as a poodle parlour! The importing of birds was heavily regulated and the Boyles were one of the few British companies permitted to import the birds, quarantine them and then sell them on.

In 1981 David Boyle tried to purchase the Airfix model range from the liquidators. He was unsuccessful and the Airfix tooling was purchased by the American General Mills company, which owned Palitoy, with the Airfix range being incorporated into its Mainline Railways range.

For the full article, see November’s edition of Modelling – available now!

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