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The First Travel Agency – How It Came To Be

The first travel agency in the history was the agency called Thomas Cook and The Sons. This travel agency still exists today, but it has a bit different name:  Thomas Cook Group. The founder was as you’ve probably already guessed was Thomas Cook.

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Precursor to the First Travel Agency

Thomas Cook was brought up as a strict Baptist and joined his local Temperance Society. Cook worked as a cabinet maker and part-time publisher of Baptist and Temperance pamphlets.  He became a Baptist minister in 1828.

John Mason Cook, his only son, was born in 1834.

An Idea is Cooked

Cook’s idea to offer excursions came to him while waiting for the stagecoach on the London Road at Kibworth. With the opening of the extended Midland Countries Railway, he arranged to take a group of 570 temperance campaigners from London Railway Station to a rally in Loughborough, eleven miles away.

On 5 July, 1841, Thomas Cook arranged for the rail company to charge one shilling 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.

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.

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