21 June 2021
It is with great sadness that news reaches us of the passing of John Ayrey.
John was taken ill about a week ago and was admitted to the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, where he died peacefully during the night of 20/21st June 2021. He leaves a wife Jennifer, and a son, John Trevor.
John was born in December 1933 in Saltaire, not far from the John Ayrey Die-Casts office in West Yorkshire. After doing his National Service, in the Army Dental Corps, he and his father opened a stall in Bradford market selling dentures, etc.
In January 1950 he and his father bought a model shop at Frizinghall, Bradford which became the Bradford Model Railway Centre. In the early sixties they bought a second shop in Huddersfield which John managed, leaving his father to run the Bradford shop. It was in the mid-sixties that two of the current owners of John Ayrey Die-Casts, Norman Hinchliffe and Andrew Feather, became friends with John. Norman worked at the Huddersfield shop and Andrew at the Bradford shop, but the three were drawn together by a mutual interest in trolleybuses and railways. In 1966 John bought a single deck trolleybus from Liege, brought it back to the UK and it is now preserved at the Sandtoft Trolleybus Museum.
John and his father went on to open shops in Leeds and Manchester, but following his father’s death in 1976 John gradually sold all four shops, the Bradford one becoming Frizinghall Models & Railways, which came back into the Ayrey’s group in April 2017.
Because of his interest in models and travelling around Europe, John started the current wholesale business working from his garage in Baildon. But John was always at the forefront of innovation and the business grew rapidly and he was the first to produce promotional models by several companies, including Corgi & Lledo. He also gained many exclusive European agencies.
In the mid-nineties, John wanted to step back a little and asked Norman to help him run the business, but after suffering a heart attack he decided to retire to Bournemouth, one of his favourite holiday haunts. So, with help from Norman’s wife Judith and her family, plus Andrew Feather, the wholesale business was purchased from John. But he had models in his blood and despite his retirement he suggested the company opened a Dorset branch, where he helped out and did local deliveries right up to about ten days ago – he was dedicated to the model trade and loved talking to customers.
He was a real gentleman, a great character, a true Yorkshireman and will be a great loss. All at Collectors Club at Great Britain would like to add our sincerest condolences to Johns’s family and his colleagues at John Ayrey Die-casts.