The company was founded by George Dowty in 1935, making aircraft equipment in Cheltenham under the name Dowty Aviation. In its early years the company invented the first internally sprung aircraft wheel and went on to make landing gear for Frank Whittle's jet-propelled Gloster aeroplane. In 1960 the company acquired Rotol Airscrews, giving it a propeller manufacturing capability (Dowty Rotol). In 1961 it acquired Boulton Paul Aircraft, no longer a large scale manufacturer of aircraft, producing research aircraft, but producing powered control units for aircraft, as well as other activities. This was named Dowty Boulton Paul Ltd.
In the 1960s the company went on to develop fuel control systems for the Harrier jump jet and power controls for the Concorde supersonic airliner.
Dowty Group collaborated with the French Group Messier on aircraft landing gear and hydraulics over a long period of time.
In the late 1980s the company diversified into telecommunications and computer equipment, acquiring Datatel, a software business, in 1987,Case Group plc, a telecommunications business, in 1988 and Dataco, a provider of network services, in 1990.
The company manufactured hydraulic and actuation systems, advanced propeller systems, turbine engine components and tubular systems, as well as owning the Hamble aircraft structures business. The Dowty Group was also a market leader in the manufacturing of mining systems solutions.