DRAYTON BASSETT, Staffordshire, England — Mrs. Vera Bryan, Drayton Manor Theme Park’s co-founder, passed away peacefully at Good Hope Hope Hospital in Sutton Colfield at the age of 96. Her passing follows the death on September 20, of George Byran, her husband of 71 years.
Mrs. Bryan passed 64 years to the day that she and her husband first visited the then rundown site near Tamworth. The couple bought the derelict Peel Estate for £12,000 in October 1949, complete with brambles, mounds of rubbish, old army huts and pastureland. Undaunted by the challenge, the couple, along with a small, dedicated team of engineers and mechanics, spent six months transforming the site.
In April 1950, Drayton Manor Park opened and for decades, Vera and her husband worked side-by-side transforming the small attraction into a major national tourism destination. From organizing the catering and supervising staff, to making curtains and other furnishings for the tea rooms and restaurant, Mrs Bryan was an inspiration to all.
The Bryans became nationally-renowned figures in the UK tourism industry as they successfully transformed the park into one of the country’s most popular family attractions.
In addition to the running of Drayton Manor Theme Park, being a mother to Colin, Jane and Andrew, grandmother and great grandmother, Mrs Bryan was also a passionate supporter of various charities, including the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). In 2004, Vera named the new Drayton Manor lifeboat, which was purchased following fundraising activities by the park.