First tour operator – Thomas Cook: biography
Thomas Cook was born on November 22, 1808. His father died in 1812, and his mother soon remarried to James Smith. But this did not improve the family’s financial situation, and Thomas had to leave school at the age of ten to take his first job as a gardener on Lord Melbourne’s estate.
In 1827 Cook stopped studying and became a wandering village missionary with a salary of 36 pounds a year. Cook soon married Marianne Mason and settled at Harborough Market.
In 1841 Cook had the idea of taking an 11-mile rail tour from Leicester to the Loughborough Moderation Society meeting. Cook charged his first customers one shilling, including the cost of a train ticket and food on the way. The company was a great success and Cook decided to start his own rail excursion business.
Cook has also mastered the profession of a writer during his life. He specialized in the literature on the cure for alcoholism, and also produced books intended for travelers, such as “Leicester’s Almanac” (1842) and “Leicester’s Guide” (1843).
Over the next few years, Cook opened hotels in Temperance, Derby and Leicester, and continued to organize tours. In 1845, earning a reputation as an entrepreneur who owned cheap railroad fares for large groups, he led his first lucrative excursion to Liverpool, Canaryphon and Mount Snowdon. Cook wrote a guide that looked like a brochure from a modern tour operator.
In 1846 Cook took 500 people from Leicester on a tour of Scotland, which included trips to Glasgow and Edinburgh. One of his greatest achievements was attracting more than 165,000 people to the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park in 1851.
However, Cook’s tourism business suffered greatly in 1862, when Scottish rail companies refused to issue group tickets for Cook’s popular tours north of the border. Cook then decided to use the new rail links to transport large numbers of tourists to the continent. In the first year, he arranged for 2000 visitors to travel to France and 500 to Switzerland. In 1864 Cook started taking tourists to Italy.
Thomas Cook: biography
Cook tours in Europe led to the fact that he began to be called “Napoleon of Excursions”.
Soon Cook moved his business to London. His son John ran the London office of a company now known as Thomas Cook&Son. John helped expand the company by opening offices in Manchester, Brussels and Cologne. In 1869 the company organized tours of Egypt and the Holy Land, which Cook said was “the greatest event in his tourist life.
Thomas had difficulties in his relationship with his son, mainly due to questions about how the company should work. After a serious quarrel in 1878, Thomas decided to resign and let John Cook run the business on his own.