Thomas Cook, founder of World Wide travel agency Thomas Cook and son, was born on November 22nd 1808 in Melbourne, Derbyshire. The house that he was born in, in Quick close has been demolished.
He left school at around the age of 10 and worked in various jobs before becoming a Baptist missionary in 1828.
In 1841 a temperance meeting was to be held in Loughborough and Cook arranged for the Midland Railwat to run an excursion train from Leicester and back, charging passengers a shilling for the return journey. This was to be the first ever public excursion train journey in England. From this he began to arrange excursions for pleasure, taking a percentage of the railway tickets. In 1844 the Midland Counties Railway Company agreed to make a permanent arrangement with him provided he found the passengers. He was working from London by this time.
In 1856 he introduced a railway tour of Europe and in the early 1860's he began the travel firm of Thomas Cook and son, which now included tours of the USA. His firm took on military transport and postal services for England and Egypt during the 1880's.
His business passed to his only son John who had been his partner since 1864.
A row of 14 cottages at the top of the High Street in Melbourne, close to the site of his birth, was built by Cook in 1891, to be occupied by 'poor and deserving persons belonging to the general Baptist denomination'.
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