History of Hattons
Home >
History of Hattons

History of Hattons

History of Hattons

Hattons Model Railways was a multi-million pound operation serving customers across the globe, endearing hobbyists of all levels, from newcomers to industry experts.

It all started after the second world war in Liverpool, England.  It was 1946 and Norman Hatton had just been demobbed from the army.  He’d bought a small shop in Smithdown Road selling items he knew were in demand, from firewood and bric-a-brac, to second hand toys and fireworks. 

Norman soon realised that toys - especially model trains - were his best sellers and by casting his net further using national advertising, he was soon reaching a larger audience. 

With a national customer-base, he needed bigger premises, so in 1958 he took the leap of faith and bought a larger property further along the same street. 

Norman retired in 1998 with his son Keith - ably assisted by sister Christine - now at the helm.  Keith was responsible for Hattons’ emergence as the leading independent retailer in the sector. 

By 1999, with the company continuing to grow and with the need for more space, next door - number 182 Smithdown Road - was snapped-up, but this wasn’t enough. By the turn of the new millennium, continued success meant a move to larger premises at the end of Smithdown Road.  

In 2008, tragedy struck when Keith died unexpectedly.  Despite this, the company continued to press forward.   By 2018, Richard Davies, who’d worked for Hattons since 1999, purchased a majority shareholding in the firm.  Christine Hatton remains a shareholder and both work together closely on a day to day basis. 

From its humble beginnings in 1946, to where it is placed in the market today - Hattons has always had the ability to instinctively know what its customers want, satisfying that need with an emphasis on excellent customer service.  Racing straight out of the blocks with the .com wave establishing hattons.co.uk in 1999, the website now caters to 100s of thousands of visitors a month from across the globe, with tens of thousands of products available to purchase at any one time.  Hattons later had an annual turnover in excess of £16 million. 

For over ten years, they’ve produced exclusive models of iconic locomotives and rolling stock both with major manufacturers and more recently with their own range of quality products produced in-house and manufactured with partner factories worldwide. 

By the 2020s, all operations were carried out from their fast-paced hub in Widnes, Chesire, the original building on Smithdown Road now serves as a tearoom with one of their tables being made from the Hattons’ signage - a satisfying nod to the history of this iconic brand.

Sadly, Hattons closed its doors for the final time in January 2024. The team at Rails of Sheffield could not allow this iconic brand to disappear and have since taken it on into their own family. And so, the story of this beloved brand will continue into the future.