Polly is a privately owned UK company, based in Cromford Derbyshire. The original company was set up by Andy Clarke, Jayne Clarke and Professor Pete Thomas, merging the former businesses of John Clarke's famous model locomotive kits and the supplies business formerly run by Bruce and Gerry Davey. Bruce had also worked with Anthony Mount to bring a range of stationary engine kits to market. These businesses had been at the core of model engineering for very many years and provided a solid foundation for the Polly business which ran under Andy Clarke's leadership for some twenty years.
Polly quickly established itself as a leading supplier of steam fittings and other model engineers requirements for tools, materials, etc. Working with the leading producers of injectors and other specialised components Polly built on the foundation Bruce had set. Initially based in a small workshop in Long Eaton, the business grew with more machines and stock storage necessitating a move to larger premises based in an old lace mill in Long Eaton.
With Pete's background in innovation, new production methods and technologies were introduced into the production of the engineered parts and Polly loco kits, capably managed by Andy. Further innovation in computer aided design/manufacture, laser cutting, lost wax casting techniques, etc were also applied to the production of fine scale loco parts. Working with well known locomotive designers, including Neville Evans, Pete Rich, Dave Aitken, etc, new exclusive locomotive designs were developed and these formed the core of the Practical Scale section of the business - the name having been coined by Neville Evans to reflect the way in which modern techniques were applied to create fine scale models of a very high standard and for it to be a realistic possibility for an enthusiastic model engineer to complete such models in a reasonable time.
The popularity of GWR models and Pete's own background growing up in GWR territory in days of steam, naturally inspired the bias towards GWR models. With a background in specialised CNC machine design, development of techniques for the production of platework, tool boxes, sand boxes, etc was an obvious way forward. With many GWR tenders having a large number of small rivet heads, finding a way to take the labour out of neatly marking and drilling those thousands of holes was a priority. The resulting CNC cut, drilled and formed platework continues to be a great success, supplemented with a range of high quality lost wax castings, sand castings, machined parts and laser cut parts.
The continued development of parts and fittings relies heavily on the use of sophisticated 3D modelling software and Matthew is quite adept in this area having already developed a wide range of products in his own right. Matthew has always had an enthusiasm for small tank engines and during his time working at Long Eaton developed the Polly Trojan loco. Matt's Trojan can often be seen at rallies all over the UK. Attention to detail is his passion and for example the model GWR King platework which he designed has precisely the correct rivet layout on the cab sides. So whether it is particular platework or casting requirements or opening windows for that 'unfinished' cab, it is worth talking to Matthew.
Julia too has spent some years working at Polly, so not only is she familiar with the supplies, but she also exercises her skills in the workshop, whether it be silver soldering some of the small assemblies, dealing with patterns and castings with the foundries or simply managing the stock materials.
On the retirement of the original directors, staff members Matthew and Julia, together with Tristan Dengate of 17D Ltd, took over the business. With their combined background of many years working in the industry and the machining facilities which Tristan was able to make available, it meant all aspects of the business could go forward. The old mill building at Cromford, where the two companies have premises in close proximity, provides the ideal environment for this innovative small company. Polly's own workshop facilities, complemented by those of 17D covers most eventualities.