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Bradley & Kaye, A Manufacturer Profile

Some of the ride manufacturers out there are universally known throughout the world. The big boys, Mack, KMG, Chance are all household names (well within funfair and amusement operators households).

Our name this week isn’t one we have heard much about. Possibly because it was folded into the Chance rides organisation in 1986.

Beverley Park

In 1945 Dave Bradley and Don Kaye purchased Beverley Park in Los Angeles from the Frock and Meyer Amusement Company. Aiming for the family market they filled the park with children’s rides, believing that the park should be spotless, and that the customers needed to look like they were enjoying themselves.

Dave Bradley was an economics graduate who held an impressive catalogue of career changes. He worked as a reporter, managed the big bands of Freddy Martin and Russ Morgan, worked as a production manager at a radio stations, and a toolmaker for Lockheed Martin.

The park is credited as the inspiration for Disneyland, with Disney and his daughters being regular visitors, indeed Dave Bradley assisted Walt Disney in the planning of the original Disneyland, travelling throughout Europe to photograph rides for him, and working as a consultant on the original Disneyland. Dave’s first wife Bernice had worked in the Disney Studios research department, before leaving to help run the park full time.

Throughout the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s most of the major Hollywood stars visited the park with their children, with Errol Flynn, Lana Turner and Carol Burnett being regulars.

Don Kaye decided to return to his roots in the music business, leaving the company in the hands of his partner, who decided to leave the name unchanged.

1947 saw the company designing a mini roller coaster for kids, called the little dipper. This was licensed to the Allan Herschell company, one of the countries biggest manufacturers. This was a portable ride which could be carried on a 20ft trailer.

Little Dipper

The Red Baron

A popular aeroplane themed ride was introduced in 1972, being delivered to Opryland. Based on the WW1 German Ace pilot of that name, the rides were themed with red triplanes and on some white planes decorated up with the British Flying Corps roundel.

Dave Bradley realised at this point that a full time manufacturing facility was needed to keep pace with the orders they were receiving. this was set up in Long Beach California.

During the first half of the 70’s Bradley & Kaye built Red Barons, Jeep rides, Dark rides, stunt rides and more. The company seemed to quite happy with custom commissions, and introduced an innovative small coaster for Storeyland. Called the ‘Ice Berg Coaster’ it followed the contours of the land through the park, skimming across a lake, and dropping down a cliff.

The Red Baron Ride
The Red Baron Ride

One highly advanced ride the company came up with was the Barnstormer. Kind of like a modern starflyer, but instead of seats the riders were in aeroplanes, which circled 100ft off the ground. The advanced part was the ability of the planes to dive 50ft under the riders control. The ride only operated a few seasons, never quite agreeing with the winds encountered 100ft up.

Bradley & Kaye Barnstormer
Barnstormer

Carousels

Dave Bradley was an acknowledged expert in Carousel working on this genre of ride as far back as 1951. He was employed by the great Alfred Hitchcock as an adviser for the carousel scene on the film ‘Strangers On A Train.’

Bradley took moulds from a number of classic carousel horses present on historic rides. He developed new fabrication methods and became highly regarded for these. Indeed this was one of the reasons that Chance Rides took over the company, to access this ‘stable’ of horse designs.

A log Flume was produced in 1978 for Hot Springs Arkansas. A1200 ft model with two lifts, based on an unusual chain lift mechanism, rather than the normal belts. They also produced a number of custom rides for Canada’s Wonderland, and dual swinging boats for Little England in Florida.

1986 saw the Bradley & Kaye draw to a close as it was taken over by the Chance Ride group. They wanted their elaborate collection of horse moulds, and another innovative name faded into relative obscurity.

Sources;

The Amusement Parkives https://amusementparkives.com/2016/11/29/bradley-kaye-balloon-flite/

KCET https://www.kcet.org/history-society/beverly-park-and-ponyland-the-kiddieland-that-inspired-walt-disney

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