Cel­e­brat­ing 175 years of Thomas Cook

Post­cards may­have been re­placed by Face­book pho­tos, but the de­sire to share our hol­i­day ex­pe­ri­ences has not dimmed.

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Your Telegraph - By Joel Lamy joel.lamy@jpress.co.uk Twit­ter: @PTJoelLamy

The last 175 years has seen a huge evo­lu­tion in how we take our va­ca­tions ever since a for­mer gar­dener, cab­i­net­maker and Bap­tist mis­sion­ary called Thomas Cook hosted a suc­cess­ful trip for 500 pas­sen­gers to travel by rail­way from Le­ices­ter to Lough­bor­ough for just one shilling.

Since then, Cook’s am­bi­tions saw his trips ven­ture fur­ther afield with mul­ti­ple vis­its abroad, even­tu­ally lead­ing to an an­nual world tour, ‘To Egypt via China,’ be­fore he passed the torch to his chil­dren then grand­chil­dren.

The Thomas Cook Group has called Pe­ter­bor­ough its home for almost 40 years and is now a world lead­ing leisure travel group which serves more than 22 mil­lion cus­tomers.

To cel­e­brate its 175th an­niver­sary, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Thomas Cook, Vi­vac­ity Cul­ture and Leisure and Pe­ter­bor­ough City Coun­cil came to­gether last Thursday at Pe­ter­bor­ough Mu­seum for a spe­cially ar­ranged af­ter­hours view­ing of the Wish You Were Here! exhibition.

One of the lucky few to at­tend was Deputy Mayor of Pe­ter­bor­ough, Coun­cil­lor Keith Sharp.

He said: “It was in­for­ma­tive and I learned quite a lot from it - for in­stance how the first jour­ney from Le­ices­ter to Lough­bor­ough, came to Pe­ter­bor­ough.

“The exhibition it­self was very in­ter­est­ing and very im­pres­sive.”

The exhibition runs un­til Sun­day, Jan­uary 8 and visi­tors can learn why the travel agents was na­tion­alised dur­ing World War Two and its as­pi­ra­tion, as Thomas Cook said him­self, to be “the will­ing and de­voted ser­vant of the trav­el­ling pub­lic.”

Paul Smith is the com­pany’s ar­chiv­ist and helped choose what ma­te­rial should go on show to the pub­lic. He said there are items from the Vic­to­rian and Ed­war­dian eras through to the mod­ern day which tell the story of Thomas Cook.

Headded: “It’s the big­gest name in travel. The his­tory of Thomas Cook is un­par­al­leled in the world of travel.

“Thomas was re­ally am an who be­lieved that travel was good for the body. He be­lieved ev­ery­body should be able to travel. He made it his mis­sion to make travel more ac­ces­si­ble to ev­ery­body.”

Paul ad­mit­ted he had a lot of fun go­ing through the ar­chives and picking through the uni­forms, brochures and even the cut­lery used on the Nile steam­ers.

Asked what is his favourite item now on dis­play, he said: “The letters writ­ten by Thomas Cook him­self. You have a let­ter that’ s more than 130 years old and that piece of pa­per was in his hand, he touched it.

“That con­nec­tion with the past is very spe­cial.”

Visi­tors Siva Ku­maran with Ste­wart Fran­cis look­ing at the exhibition

Deputy Mayor Keith Sharp with Kevin Tighe head of Vi­vac­ity

Thomas Cook staff Maija Noble and Sally Cooke with Yield and Prod­uct di­rec­tor Tony Hop­kins

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