Thomas Cook will be celebrating its 175th Anniversary on July 5.
The company began in 1841 when its founder hosted a trip for 500 passengers to travel the 12 miles by railway from Leicester to Loughborough for a Temperance meeting at the cost of one shilling each. With the vision of empowering people through travel, Cook went on to arrange a series of trips between Leicester, Nottingham, Derby and Birmingham, enabling thousands to experience rail travel for the first time.
Within four years, Thomas Cook had expanded his philanthropic vision into a commercial enterprise, starting with an excursion to the maritime city of Liverpool. The trip also saw the production of his very first destination guide – a forerunner of the modern day holiday brochure.
Feeding the demand for exploration, Cook expanded his offering to include London, Scotland, Wales and Ireland before embarking on his first continental tour of Northern Europe. This encompassed Antwerp, Brussels, Cologne, Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Strasbourg and Paris.
In time the growing customer demand for a fuller service led to the birth of the high street travel agent with the opening of Thomas Cook’s first shop on Fleet Street, London in 1865.
Leading the way in long haul travel, Cook launched his first round-the-world tour in 1872 – 73. This took guests across North America, Japan, China, Singapore, India, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Italy and France covering more than 29,000 miles in 222 days - arguably the climax of his career.
From that first vision to empower people through travel, the leisure travel group has since developed into an international business spanning across 15 markets, serving upwards of 20 million customers and employing 22,000 people per year.