Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Thomas Cook

Thomas Cook

Overview
Thomas Cook of Melbourne, Derbyshire
Melbourne, Derbyshire
Melbourne is a Georgian market town in South Derbyshire, England. It is about 8 miles south of Derby and 2 miles from the River Trent. In 1837 a then tiny settlement in Australia was named after William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, Queen Victoria's first Prime Minister, and thus indirectly takes...

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 founded the travel agency that is now Thomas Cook Group
Thomas Cook Group
Thomas Cook Group plc is a travel company created on 19 June, 2007 by the merger of Thomas Cook AG and MyTravel Group plc. At flotation on the London Stock Exchange 52% of the shares in the new company were held by the German mail order and department store corporation Arcandor and 48% owned by...

.

Thomas Cook was born to John and Elizabeth Cook, who lived at 9 Quick Close in the village of Melbourne, Derbyshire
Melbourne, Derbyshire
Melbourne is a Georgian market town in South Derbyshire, England. It is about 8 miles south of Derby and 2 miles from the River Trent. In 1837 a then tiny settlement in Australia was named after William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, Queen Victoria's first Prime Minister, and thus indirectly takes...

. The couple's first child, he was named after Elizabeth's father, Thomas Perkins. John Cook died when Thomas was three years old, and his mother remarried later that same year.

At the age of 10, Cook started working as an assistant to a local market gardener for a wage of six pence
Penny (British pre-decimal coin)
The penny of the Kingdom of Great Britain and later of the United Kingdom, was in circulation from the early 18th century until February 1971, Decimal Day....

 a week.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Thomas Cook'
Start a new discussion about 'Thomas Cook'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
Thomas Cook of Melbourne, Derbyshire
Melbourne, Derbyshire
Melbourne is a Georgian market town in South Derbyshire, England. It is about 8 miles south of Derby and 2 miles from the River Trent. In 1837 a then tiny settlement in Australia was named after William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, Queen Victoria's first Prime Minister, and thus indirectly takes...

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 founded the travel agency that is now Thomas Cook Group
Thomas Cook Group
Thomas Cook Group plc is a travel company created on 19 June, 2007 by the merger of Thomas Cook AG and MyTravel Group plc. At flotation on the London Stock Exchange 52% of the shares in the new company were held by the German mail order and department store corporation Arcandor and 48% owned by...

.

Early days


Thomas Cook was born to John and Elizabeth Cook, who lived at 9 Quick Close in the village of Melbourne, Derbyshire
Melbourne, Derbyshire
Melbourne is a Georgian market town in South Derbyshire, England. It is about 8 miles south of Derby and 2 miles from the River Trent. In 1837 a then tiny settlement in Australia was named after William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, Queen Victoria's first Prime Minister, and thus indirectly takes...

. The couple's first child, he was named after Elizabeth's father, Thomas Perkins. John Cook died when Thomas was three years old, and his mother remarried later that same year.

At the age of 10, Cook started working as an assistant to a local market gardener for a wage of six pence
Penny (British pre-decimal coin)
The penny of the Kingdom of Great Britain and later of the United Kingdom, was in circulation from the early 18th century until February 1971, Decimal Day....

 a week. At the age of 14, he secured an apprenticeship with John Pegg, and spent five years as a cabinet maker.

He was brought up as a strict Baptist, and joined his local Temperance Society
Temperance movement
A temperance movement is a social movement urging reduced use of alcoholic beverages. Temperance movements may criticize excessive alcohol use, promote complete abstinence , or pressure the government to enact anti-alcohol legislation or complete prohibition of alcohol.-Temperance movement by...

. In February 1826, Cook became a preacher, and toured the region as a village evangelist, distributing pamphlets, and occasionally working as a cabinet maker to earn money. After working as a part-time publisher of Baptist and Temperance pamphlets, he became a Baptist minister in 1828.

In 1832, Cook moved to Adam and Eve Street in Market Harborough
Market Harborough
Market Harborough is a market town within the Harborough district of Leicestershire, England.It has a population of 20,785 and is the administrative headquarters of Harborough District Council. It sits on the Northamptonshire-Leicestershire border...

. Influenced by the local Baptist minister Francis Beardsall, he took the temperance
Temperance movement
A temperance movement is a social movement urging reduced use of alcoholic beverages. Temperance movements may criticize excessive alcohol use, promote complete abstinence , or pressure the government to enact anti-alcohol legislation or complete prohibition of alcohol.-Temperance movement by...

 pledge on New Year's Day in 1833. As a part of the temperance movement, he organized meetings and held anti-liquor processions.

On 3 March 1833, Cook married Marianne Mason. John Mason Cook, their only son, was born on 13 January 1834 .

The first-ever excursions


Cook's idea to offer excursions came to him while waiting for the stagecoach on the London Road at Kibworth
Kibworth
Kibworth is an area of the Harborough district of Leicestershire, England, that contains two civil parishes—the villages of Kibworth Beauchamp and Kibworth Harcourt . According to the 2001 census, Kibworth Beauchamp has a population of 3,798, and Kibworth Harcourt has a population of 990. The two...

. With the opening of the extended Midland Counties Railway
Midland Counties Railway
The Midland Counties Railway was a railway company in the United Kingdom which existed between 1832 and 1844, connecting Nottingham, Leicester and Derby with Rugby and thence, via the London and Birmingham Railway, to London. The MCR system connected with the North Midland Railway and the...

, he arranged to take a group of 540 temperance
Temperance movement
A temperance movement is a social movement urging reduced use of alcoholic beverages. Temperance movements may criticize excessive alcohol use, promote complete abstinence , or pressure the government to enact anti-alcohol legislation or complete prohibition of alcohol.-Temperance movement by...

 campaigners from Leicester
Leicester
Leicester is a city and unitary authority in the East Midlands of England, and the county town of Leicestershire. The city lies on the River Soar and at the edge of the National Forest...

 Campbell Street station
Leicester Campbell Street railway station
Leicester Campbell Street railway station was the first proper railway station in Leicester, opened in 1840 by the Midland Counties Railway. As was normal in those days with a through station, the original plan was to build it to the side of...

 to a rally in Loughborough
Loughborough
Loughborough is a town within the Charnwood borough of Leicestershire, England. It is the seat of Charnwood Borough Council and is home to Loughborough University...

, eleven miles away. On 5 July 1841, Thomas Cook arranged for the rail company to charge one shilling
Shilling
The shilling is a unit of currency used in some current and former British Commonwealth countries. The word shilling comes from scilling, an accounting term that dates back to Anglo-Saxon times where it was deemed to be the value of a cow in Kent or a sheep elsewhere. The word is thought to derive...

 per person that included rail tickets and food for this train journey. Cook was paid a share of the fares actually charged to the passengers, as the railway tickets, being legal contracts between company and passenger, could not have been issued at his own price. This was the first privately chartered excursion train to be advertised to the general public; Cook himself acknowledging that there had been previous, unadvertised, private excursion trains. During the following three summers he planned and conducted outings for temperance societies and Sunday-school children. In 1844 the Midland Counties Railway Company agreed to make a permanent arrangement with him provided he found the passengers. This success led him to start his own business running rail excursions for pleasure, taking a percentage of the railway tickets.


On 4 August 1845 he arranged accommodation for a party to travel from Leicester to Liverpool
Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

. In 1846, he took 350 people from Leicester on a tour of Scotland
Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, however his lack of commercial ability led him to bankruptcy
Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy is a legal status of an insolvent person or an organisation, that is, one that cannot repay the debts owed to creditors. In most jurisdictions bankruptcy is imposed by a court order, often initiated by the debtor....

. He persisted and had success when he claimed that he arranged for over 165,000 people to attend the Great Exhibition in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. Four years later, he planned his first excursion abroad, when he took a group from Leicester to Calais
Calais
Calais is a town in Northern France in the department of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Although Calais is by far the largest city in Pas-de-Calais, the department's capital is its third-largest city of Arras....

 to coincide with the Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 Exhibition. The following year he started his 'grand circular tours' of Europe. During the 1860s he took parties to Switzerland, Italy, Egypt and United States. Cook established 'inclusive independent travel', whereby the traveller went independently but his agency charged for travel, food and accommodation for a fixed period over any chosen route. Such was his success that the Scottish railway companies withdrew their support between 1862 and 1863 to try the excursion business for themselves.

With John A Mason Cook, he formed a partnership and renamed the travel agency as Thomas Cook and Son. They acquired business premises on Fleet Street
Fleet Street
Fleet Street is a street in central London, United Kingdom, named after the River Fleet, a stream that now flows underground. It was the home of the British press until the 1980s...

, London. By this time, Cook had stopped personal tours and became an agent for foreign or domestic travel. The office also contained a shop which sold essential travel accessories including guide books, luggage, telescopes and footwear. Thomas saw his venture as both religious and social service; his son provided the commercial expertise that allowed the company to expand. In accordance with his beliefs, he and his wife also ran a small temperance hotel above the office. Their business model was refined by the introduction of the 'hotel coupon' in 1866. Detachable coupons in a counterfoil book were issued to the traveller. These were valid for either a restaurant meal or an overnight hotel stay provided they were on Cook's list.

In 1865, the agency organised tours of the United States, picking up passengers from several departure points. John Mason Cook lead the excursion which included tours of several Civil War battlefields. A brief but bitter partnership was formed with an American businessman in 1871 called Cook, Son and Jenkins; however after an acrimonious split the agency reverted back to its original name. A round the world tour started in 1872, which for 200 guineas, included a steamship across the Atlantic, a stage coach across America, a paddle steamer to Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, and an overland journey across China and India, lasting 222 days.

In 1874, Thomas Cook introduced 'circular notes', a product that later became better known by American Express's brand, 'traveller's cheques'.

Conflicts of interest between father and son were resolved when the son persuaded his father, Thomas Cook, to retire in 1879. He moved back to Leicestershire and lived quietly until his death. The firm's growth was consolidated by John Mason Cook and his two sons, especially by its involvement with military transport and postal services for Britain
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

 and Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 during the 1880s when Cook began organising tours to the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

. By 1888, the company had established offices around the world, including three in Australia and one in Auckland, New Zealand, and in 1890, the company sold over 3.25 million tickets. John Mason Cook promoted, and even led, excursions to, for example, the Middle East where he was described as "the second-greatest man in Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

". However, while arranging for the German Emperor Wilhelm II to visit Palestine in 1898, he contracted dysentery
Dysentery
Dysentery is an inflammatory disorder of the intestine, especially of the colon, that results in severe diarrhea containing mucus and/or blood in the faeces with fever and abdominal pain. If left untreated, dysentery can be fatal.There are differences between dysentery and normal bloody diarrhoea...

 and died the following year.

His sons, Frank Henry, Thomas Albert and Ernest Edward
Ernest Cook (philanthropist)
Ernest Edward Cook was an English philanthropist and businessman and grandson of Thomas Cook, the travel entrepreneur....

, were not nearly as successful running the business. Despite opening a new headquarters in Berkeley Square
Berkeley Square
Berkeley Square is a town square in the West End of London, England, in the City of Westminster. It was originally laid out in the mid 18th century by architect William Kent...

, London in 1926, ownership of Thomas Cook and Son only remained with the family until 1928, when it was sold to the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits. During the 1930s, the travel agency consolidated especially from tours to Egypt and Palestine. Indeed the company was a principal employer in Egypt, involved in shipping, transport and touring operations. After the outbreak of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the Paris headquarters of the Wagons-Lits company was seized by the occupying forces, and in turn the British assets were requisitioned by the Government. In 1941, the centenary of the company, Thomas Cook & Son Ltd. was sold to the four major railway companies with the aim of expanding it further.

Company ownership


The company was nationalised in 1948 as part of the British Transport Commission
British Transport Commission
The British Transport Commission was created by Clement Attlee's post-war Labour government as a part of its nationalisation programme, to oversee railways, canals and road freight transport in Great Britain...

. In the early 1950s, the company began promoting 'foreign holidays' (particularly Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 and Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

) by showing information films at town halls throughout Britain. However they made a costly decision by not going into the new form of cheap holidays which combined the transport and accommodation arrangements into a single 'package'
Package holiday
A package holiday or package tour consists of transport and accommodation advertised and sold together by a vendor known as a tour operator. Other services may be provided like a rental car, activities or outings during the holiday. Transport can be via charter airline to a foreign country...

. The company went further into decline and were only rescued by a consortium of Trust House Forte, Midland Bank
Midland Bank
Midland Bank Plc was one of the Big Four banking groups in the United Kingdom for most of the 20th century. It is now part of HSBC. The bank was founded as the Birmingham and Midland Bank in Union Street, Birmingham, England in August 1836...

 and the Automobile Association
The Automobile Association
The Automobile Association , a British motoring association founded in 1905 was demutualised in 1999 to become a private limited company which currently provides car insurance, driving lessons, breakdown cover, loans and motoring advice, and other services...

 who bought the company from the British Government
Privatization
Privatization is the incidence or process of transferring ownership of a business, enterprise, agency or public service from the public sector to the private sector or to private non-profit organizations...

 on 26 May 1972. Subsequently, Midland Bank
Midland Bank
Midland Bank Plc was one of the Big Four banking groups in the United Kingdom for most of the 20th century. It is now part of HSBC. The bank was founded as the Birmingham and Midland Bank in Union Street, Birmingham, England in August 1836...

 acquired sole control during 1977. However, since U.S. banking laws prohibited any national banks from owning travel agencies, the U.S. operations were sold to Dun & Bradstreet
Dun & Bradstreet
Dun & Bradstreet is a Fortune 500 public company headquartered in Short Hills, New Jersey, USA that provides information on businesses and corporations for use in credit decisions, B2B marketing and supply chain management...

 in 1975.

After restructuring
Restructuring
Restructuring is the corporate management term for the act of reorganizing the legal, ownership, operational, or other structures of a company for the purpose of making it more profitable, or better organized for its present needs...

 the company and re-entering the traveller's cheque
Traveler's cheque
A traveler's cheque is a preprinted, fixed-amount cheque designed to allow the person signing it to make an unconditional payment to someone else as a result of having paid the issuer for that privilege.- Usage :As traveler's cheques can usually be replaced if lost or stolen A traveler's cheque...

 business the company prospered again. During the 1980s, Thomas Cook had its most visible business presence in the U.S., including robust travellers cheque sales to regional U.S. banks. The company had enough business critical mass to set up a computer centre near Princeton, New Jersey. Robert Gaffney and Samuel Malek were two of the notable decision makers in that era. Robert Maxwell
Robert Maxwell
Ian Robert Maxwell MC was a Czechoslovakian-born British media proprietor and former Member of Parliament , who rose from poverty to build an extensive publishing empire...

 bought substantial holdings in the company in 1988. He was expected to sell his holdings quickly as he was a publisher rather than a travel agent. However, when Crimson/Heritage purchased the U.S. division of Thomas Cook for $1.3 billion in 1989, he still maintained a substantial interest in the company until his death.

In June 1992, following the acquisition of Midland Bank by HSBC
HSBC
HSBC Holdings plc is a global banking and financial services company headquartered in Canary Wharf, London, United Kingdom. it is the world's second-largest banking and financial services group and second-largest public company according to a composite measure by Forbes magazine...

, the company was sold to the German bank, Westdeutsche Landesbank
WestLB
WestLB AG is a European commercial bank based in Düsseldorf in Germany which is partly owned by the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The letters LB in the name stand for Landesbank. The Landesbanken are a group of state owned banks unique to Germany...

 (WestLB), and the charter airline, LTU Group
LTU International
LTU Lufttransport-Unternehmen GmbH was an airline based in Düsseldorf, Germany, now fully owned by Air Berlin. The initials stand for the German phrase LuftTransport-Unternehmen . It operated scheduled services on medium and long-haul routes, as well as charter services...

 for £200 million.

In September 1994 American Express bought the corporate travel interests of Thomas Cook Travel Inc. which represented about ten percent of the British company's total revenue. However Amex was not able to buy the venerable Thomas Cook name. An American Express affiliate, Cook Travel Inc, has been operating under that name since 1991 in the United States.

Due to contractual difficulties LTU Group sold its 10% shares to WestLB in May 1995. During 1996 the company bought the short-haul operator, Sunworld, and the European city-breaks tour group, Time Off. Within three years, the company had combined Sunworld, Sunset, Inspirations, Flying Colours
Flying Colours (airline)
-History:The airline began operations in the summer of 1996 with a fleet of Boeing 757-200 & Airbus A320 aircraft.Flying Colours had several operational bases outside of its Manchester Airport headquarters, including London Gatwick Airport and Glasgow International Airport...

 and Caledonian Airways
Caledonian Airways
Caledonian Airways was a wholly private, independentindependent from government-owned corporations Scottish charter airline formed in April 1961. It began with a single Douglas DC-7C leased from Sabena. Caledonian grew rapidly over the coming years to become the leading transatlantic "affinity...

 into the JMC
JMC Air
JMC Air Services also known as JMC Air, JMC Airlines or simply JMC, was a UK charter airline formed by the merger of Caledonian Airways and Flying Colours Airlines following the purchase of Thomas Cook Group by the Carlson Leisure Group. JMC Air was named after the initials of the son of Thomas...

 brand - JMC being short for John Mason Cook.
On February 2, 1999, the Carlson Leisure Group merged with Thomas Cook into a holding company
Holding company
A holding company is a company or firm that owns other companies' outstanding stock. It usually refers to a company which does not produce goods or services itself; rather, its purpose is to own shares of other companies. Holding companies allow the reduction of risk for the owners and can allow...

 owned by West LB, Carlson Inc and Preussag Aktiengesellschaft ("Preussag
Preussag
Preussag AG was a German mining company which later operated in a variety of industries. It was incorporated on October 9, 1923 as Preußische Bergwerks- und Hütten-Aktiengesellschaft ....

"). However, in mid-2000 Preussag acquired Thomas Cook's rival Thomson Travel and was forced to sell its majority 50.1% stake in Thomas Cook by regulatory authorities.

In March 2001, the Financial Services division was sold to Travelex
Travelex Group
Travelex Group is foreign exchange company founded by Lloyd Dorfman and headquartered London. Its main businesses are international payments, bureau de change and issuing prepaid credit cards for use by travellers...

 who retained the right to use the Thomas Cook brand on Traveller's Cheques for 5 years.
In 2002, Thomas Cook was acquired by the German company C&N Touristic AG, which later changed its name to Thomas Cook AG
Thomas Cook AG
This article contains historical information about Thomas Cook AG until its merger with My Travel - for the new company see - Thomas Cook Group...

. The group is jointly owned by Lufthansa
Lufthansa
Deutsche Lufthansa AG is the flag carrier of Germany and the largest airline in Europe in terms of overall passengers carried. The name of the company is derived from Luft , and Hansa .The airline is the world's fourth-largest airline in terms of overall passengers carried, operating...

 and Karstadt
Karstädt
Karstädt is a municipality in the Prignitz district, in Brandenburg, Germany....

.

In 2007, Thomas Cook announced a merger with competitor MyTravel with the new group to be called Thomas Cook Group plc and listed on the London Stock Exchange. The transaction was completed in June 2007 following competition authority clearance. The new group was 51% owned by Arcandor (new name of Karstadt).

Thomas Cook made a controversial business move in 2008, buying out Canadian travel wholesaler IFS Voyages (including Fun Sun Vacations, Intair, Exotik Tours, Boomerang Tours, etc.).

In March 2010 Thomas Cook acquired the UK travel insurance and airport parking provider Essential Travel and launched Thomas Cook Essentials. This was followed by a merger with The Co-operative Travel
The Co-operative Travel
The Co-operative Travel is the trading name of Co-op Group Travel 1 Ltd., a subsidiary of the Co-operative Group. The largest independent travel agent in the United Kingdom; it is a member of the Co-operative Travel Trading Group and is both ABTA and ATOL bonded...

 group on 8 October 2010 to create the UK's largest retail travel network.

At the 2011 AGM
Annual general meeting
An annual general meeting is a meeting that official bodies, and associations involving the public , are often required by law to hold...

 Thomas Cook shareholders mounted a "revolt" over executive bonuses with only 53.2 percent voting in favour of the remuneration report.

External links