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Drayton Manor Founder Passes Away


Drayton Manor Theme Park regrets to announce that the park’s founder and owner, Mr George H H Bryan OBE, passed away peacefully this morning at home.

Mr Bryan, aged 92, was a trained engineer with a passion for the entertainment industry. He manufactured penny arcade machines with his father, William, who was known as ‘King of the Penny Arcade’.

During the Second World War, George Bryan served with Kegworth Local Defence Volunteers, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, Royal Army Ordnance Corp and the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. He met his wife, Vera Cartilidge, in May 1942. Vera’s family owned California in England pleasure park, which was the inspiration behind Drayton Manor. The couple married in December of that year. 

People thought George and Vera Bryan were quite barmy when in 1949 they first arrived at Drayton Manor with the intention of building a family theme park.

They had paid £12, 000 for 80 acres of land, which was covered with 4ft-high brambles, mounds of rubbish and old army huts. Undaunted by the challenge, George and Vera, along with a small, dedicated team of engineers and mechanics, spent six months transforming the site.

In April 1950, Drayton Manor Park opened. It had one restaurant, a tea room, three hand operated rides, six rowing boats, some pedal cars and a set of second hand dodgem cars. 

Today, the park continues to be run and owned by the family and has succeeded in becoming one of the UK’s most popular family attractions. 

He received his OBE in 2004 in recognition for his dedication to hospital services  and contribution to tourism and the skill and determination demonstrated by Mr & Mrs Bryan in opening a tourist attraction in post-war Britain, was indicative of his commitment and dedication. He was also a known philanthropist, supporting a number of local charities, which is part of his legacy.

George Bryan inspired all people he met, with his passion and humility. He was a devoted husband to Vera, father to Colin, Jane and Andrew, grandfather and great grandfather. 

We ask that you respect the family’s privacy at this sad time.

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