Attractions industry news

14 Aug 2023

Alton Towers founder and attractions industry legend, John Broome CBE, dies aged 80

John Broome CBE, the man who developed Alton Towers theme park from humble beginnings to one of Europe's biggest, has passed away aged 80.

In a statement, his property development group, Imperial Corporate Capital, said: "It is with profound sadness that I must convey the news of the passing of our esteemed and beloved board member, Mr. John Broome.

"John was not just a colleague; he was a visionary and a pioneer whose far-reaching impact on the tourism industry is renowned.

"From transforming Alton Towers into a landmark theme park to his innovative vision for Camel Creek Resort, John’s creativity and determination were truly extraordinary."

Broome was already a millionaire property developer by the time he bought out the controlling stake in Alton Towers in the mid 1970s.

During the 1960s and early 1970s, the grounds of Alton Towers – a former stately home – had been partly redeveloped as a visitor attraction and featured a boating lake, a chairlift and a small fair.

After Broome took over, however, he laid the foundation for the modern theme park by installing various permanent rides and developing areas of the grounds in progressive stages.

It then became a major theme park in 1980 with the installation of The Corkscrew rollercoaster, the Pirate Ship, and the Alpine Bobsled ride.

By the time it was acquired by Tussauds Group in 1990, it had become one of the most popular visitor attractions in the UK.

In 1987, Broome was awarded a CBE for services to tourism.

As recently as 2015, Broome acquired Cornwall's Crealy Great Adventure Park, along with 200 acres of adjacent farmland, with the intention of transforming it into a premier European destination, branded as Camel Creek Resort.

In a LinkedIn post, his son, Will Broome, said: "It’s with a wry, white-knuckled sigh I’m confirming that my (eternally flamboyant!) father, John Broome CBE, aka the ‘King of Fun’, swiftly and rather unexpectedly (well, how else would he do it!?) passed away a few days ago.

"He really was a one-off, in so many ways! I mean, if you think I have stories, then you should have heard this wily raconteur in his prime!"

Liz Terry MBE, Attractions Management editor, said: "John was such a character and a great host - always upbeat and full of fun.

"He paved the way for so much of the attractions industry as it is today and was so passionate about his work. Long may he be remembered."

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