Decision to open tourist attraction led to family farm turnover boost, jobs creation and awards 

1 min read

A beef and arable farm which opened a family tourist attraction in the wake of Brexit is reaping the benefits – with a huge turnover boost, dozens more jobs and multiple awards. 

Play@ Lower Drayton Farm, near Penkridge, launched in 2020 as the farm owners decided that the prospect of losing EU grants meant the time was right to further diversify. 

When the attraction opened its doors on the 750-acre working farm site it had four staff – now it employs a team of 67 and has been named Staffordshire’s Small Visitor Attraction of the Year. 

Play@ Lower Drayton Farm has enabled Managing Director Richard Bower to quadruple the farm’s turnover, create dozens of jobs and safeguard a business that has been owned by his family for generations. 

He said: “I’m proud to be born and bred in Staffordshire, to have been educated here, to run a business here and to hopefully give back to our employees and visitors. 

“I feel very lucky to be able to continue the good work of previous generations that have gone before me on the farm. Without them we wouldn’t be where we are now.” 

Play@ has been recognised with several awards – it was named Best New Tourist Attraction of the Year in the 2022 Enjoy Staffordshire Food & Tourism Awards, Best Small Visitor Attraction of the Year in the 2023 Enjoy Staffordshire Food & Tourism Awards and was shortlisted in the School Travel Awards 2023. 

Richard is now up for the Entrepreneur of the Year category after entering the Staffordshire University Business Awards and Play@ is in the running in the Small Business of the Year and Innovation categories. 

A key focus within the business is looking after returning visitors. The introduction of memberships in August 2022 attracted even more loyal customers, with more than 700 current members. 

Significant ongoing investment based on visitor feedback has also driven improvements.  

This included the installation of a new grass toboggan run to the outdoor play area, an additional, undercover bouncy pillow and the introduction of life-size animatronic dinosaurs to the Dino Discovery Maize Maze. 

The biggest investment to date was the 2023 Christmas event Jingle Ville. More than £250,000 was invested in converting a barn into a winter village complete with a set built by professional designers and a purpose-built cinema barn which will be used for events throughout the year.  

Nigel Pye

Experienced journalist with a 30-year career in the newspaper and PR industry and a proven record for breaking stories for the national and international press. Nigel is the Editor of Daily Focus and Head of Creative at i-creation. Other work includes scriptwriting, magazine and video production, crisis communications and TV and radio broadcasts.

1 Comment

  1. As a member of staff I am proud to be a part of the family run business and love to watch the playbarn grow. Richard deserves this award as he
    works very hard day and night and is always there for us to help with any obstacles we come across even though he has a family of his own now he is always there for us if needed. Good luck Richard in all you achieve you have earned it.

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