ALTON Towers founder John Broome has died aged 80.
The businessman grew the theme park from humble beginnings to one of Europe's biggest – attracting 2.3 million visitors last year.
A statement from his firm Imperial Corporate Capital read: "John was not just a colleague; he was a visionary and a pioneer whose far-reaching impact on the tourism industry is renowned.
"His loss leaves a void that will be deeply felt by all who had the privilege of working with him."
John first made inroads into the tourism industry in 1973 when he bought a concession to run a train ride through the grounds of the Alton Towers estate.
After marrying manager's Denis Bradshaw's daughter Jane,John – who had made his millions in property – founded the Staffordshire theme park in 1980.
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The millionaire later introduced the revolutionary Corkscrew rollercoaster to Alton Towers, which changed the face of UK tourist attractions.
Over the following decades, Alton Towers grew to incorporate a water park, spa, mini golf and hotel complex.
Considered a "visionary" of the UK tourism industry, John went on to found Camel Creek Resort in Cornwall.
He sold the park to the Tussauds Group in 1990.
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Alton Towers is open from mid-March to early November but its hotels are open year-round.
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