Thomas Cook’s first trip was 178 years ago

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Mr Cook took around 500 supporters of the temperance movement on a day trip by train from Leicester to Loughborough.

Thomas Cook was launched in 1841 (Thomas Cook/PA)

Thomas Cook is one of the world’s oldest and largest travel companies.

It was formed by a cabinet maker of the same name 178 years ago.

The former Baptist preacher was a religious man who believed that most social problems were related to alcohol.

Mr Cook organised his first trip in 1841, taking around 500 supporters of the temperance movement on a day trip by train from Leicester to Loughborough, 12 miles away.

The day was a success, so he went on to arrange excursions between Leicester, Nottingham, Derby and Birmingham for temperance societies and Sunday schools.

His first commercial venture was an outing to Liverpool in 1845, for which he charged 15 shillings for first-class passengers and 10 shillings for those in second-class.

Mr Cook launched trips to Paris in 1855, before venturing to Italy, Switzerland, Egypt and the US in the 1860s.


The first high street shop was opened in 1865 in London and round the world tours began in 1872. Pleasure trips by plane were launched in 1919.

The Cook family sold the business to the Belgian owners of the Orient Express in 1928, before it became state-owned as part of the nationalised British Railways in 1948.

By 1950 the number of British tourists travelling abroad each year exceeded one million, with France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland the most popular destinations.

Thomas Cook returned to private ownership in 1972 and has since switched hands several more times.

The most recent major change was in 2001 when a German travel group became the sole owner of the firm.

Today, Thomas Cook Group employs around 22,000 people in 16 countries and has around 19 million customers each year.

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