Thomas Cook: the daddy of recent tourism – archive, 22 November 1958 | Travel

Few folks in these subtle occasions would declare for travel all of the virtues as soon as believed to be inherent in it. But it stays, for these who have the leisure and cash, a tremendous method of placing within the time. To-day it’s a main supply of earnings for thus many nations that it’s arduous to think about what they did earlier than Thomas Cook got here on the scene.

Cook, who was born 150 years in the past to-day, was not content material to be merely the daddy of recent tourism: he was a newspaper reporter as nicely. During his excursions, when he was ever on the look-out for cheaper transport, higher lodging, and “points of interest,” he despatched to some native papers in Leicester and to the “Times” assorted letters to the editor, and even a number of commissioned articles, describing the scenic wonders alongside the route.

This aspiration in direction of increased issues was evident, too, in his devoted temperance work, which was the unique reason for his turning into enthusiastic about common travel. For a fare of 1 shilling he had organized in 1841 for 570 supporters to travel by open rail carriage from Leicester to Loughborough to attend a temperance assembly. Four years later he organized a rail journey from Leicester, Nottingham, and Derby to Liverpool, and he was actually within the vacationer business.

Advertising Poster of the Thomas Cook travel company. Photograph: Heritage Images/Getty Images

Song for the tunnel

The brochure produced for this rail journey contained a music written by a J. Bradshawe Walker, of Leeds, for the edification of the purchasers who had been to sing it earlier than getting into the Summit Tunnel. The closing strains ran:

“But onward, snorting wild,
Like a monster in its glee,
The locomotive flies with us,
A passing sketch to see.”

The following yr – 1846 – noticed the primary of Cook’s Scottish excursions, which had been to be the spine of his business for some many years. The Scottish hosts confirmed enthusiasm for the English guests: weapons had been fired in welcome because the practice drew into the Glasgow station, bands performed, and speeches had been made. Could this unlikely affection for the English have sprung from a shrewd Scots appreciation of being in early on an excellent factor? Or had Cook despatched on forward his public relations males?

In 1866 Thomas Cook produced a guide for the good thing about Sassenachs crossing the Border for the primary time. The guide was known as Cook’s Scottish Tourist: Practical Directory: A Guide To the Principal Tourist Routes, Conveyances And Special Ticket Arrangements, Sanctioned By Railway, Steamboat And Coach Companies Commanding The Highland Excursion Traffic. One chapter heading ran: “Is It Safe For Ladies To Join In Highland Tours?” The reply was reassuring. The majority of vacationers throughout the previous twenty years had been women, all of whom had had a tremendous. secure time.

During the identical interval the vacationers’ path had been crushed by Cook to North Wales, the Isle of Man, and Ireland, and he was able to see what the Continent needed to supply. The first tentative steps had been journeys from Leicester (which continued to be his headquarters till 1865, when he opened a big central workplace in Fleet Street) to Calais for folks desirous to attend the Paris Exhibition in 1855.

The subsequent yr he marketed “a grand circular tour of the Continent,” which was to cowl Antwerp, Brussels, Cologne, Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Baden-Baden, Strasbourg, and Paris. Then adopted Swiss excursions and Italian excursions, and in 1865 Cook crossed the Atlantic to make tour preparations there.

Round the world

Cook accomplished his personal first journey around the world in 1873, and was in a position to supply in the identical yr a deliberate world tour, from London to London, for less than 200 guineas or 1.050 gold . By this time his son, John Mason Cook, was energetic within the business, travelling within the years between 1866 and 1873 376,000 miles.

A Cooks Ticket, SE&CR poster, 1910.

A Cooks Ticket, SE&CR poster, 1910. Photograph: Science & Society Picture Librar/SSPL by way of Getty Images

Thomas Cook and Son had been one of many first companies to make use of, within the 1870s, travellers’ cheques, which they known as “circular notes”; and quite earlier they launched resort coupons which gave bearers the proper to demand lodging at any resort within the scheme. In days when Foreign Office officers and diplomatists had a neater time, it was left to Cooks to rearrange General Gordon’s journey to the Sudan in 1884. He tendered to the company his “thanks for the admirable manner in which we have been treated while on your steamers.”

Now the company which Cook based is the biggest travel company within the world. It grew to become a non-public restricted legal responsibility company in 1924, and in 1948 its shares, which had been then held by railway corporations, had been acquired by the British Transport Commission.

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