On 5 July 1841, Thomas Cook organised a one-day train journey from Leicester to a Temperance meeting in Loughborough.
175 years later, I was lucky enough to be invited to attend a re-enactment of that very first train journey. Surrounded by untouched billboards and vintage props, the Great Railway Station in Loughborough looked like I’d travelled back in time.
The day was perfect, from old school lemonade stands right down to alcohol abstinence and cigarette posters. The steam engine itself also boasted an iron plaque with our 175 years logo on the front, making the experience even more special.
Time to board the train
I arrived at Leicester station to board the train to Loughborough along with 220 guests ready to enjoy our afternoon tea. While on the train, I was served a range of different teas along with cakes, sandwiches and snacks; they were delicious.
The 12-mile journey itself was incredibly scenic. Everyone had a smile on their face as we passed stunning greenery and sparkling lakes.
Once we arrived at the Great Railway Station in Loughborough, we were greeted by Victorian actors who were amazing and they stayed in character all day, interacting with the other guests.
Activities were provided for everyone throughout the event, including games, a comic exhibition, Victorian English lessons for students taught by the actors and the chance to have a look around on the steam engine.
Fun on the platform
I was impressed with the turnout of the event, over 250 people came to enjoy the celebration including Thomas Cook, the great, great grandson of the founder of our company himself. He said: “Today has been a wonderful day. I’ve enjoyed it, it’s been very good and I’m honoured to be a part of it.”
Other guests included children from Wolsey House Primary School, the Leicester Tigers, Leicester’s mayor Sir Peter Soulsby and our own CEO, Peter Fankhauser.
One of the Year 6 teachers from the school, Lesley Studley, said: “Thomas Cook have been really good to us, we were offered 30 places for the students at first, but straight away they came back and offered that all 60 children could come, which was lovely. It meant that we didn’t have to do any selections. Not many of the students have been on a steam train before, so it was a real surprise to them. There aren’t many of them that go outside of Leicester either. So they’re really enjoying learning about Thomas Cook and the history of travel.”
Looking forward to the future
The day was a special event for everyone, especially for the Thomas Cook team. It was a good day that was made fantastic with all the hard work and passion put in by everyone that came along. It marked one of many exciting milestones that are yet to come in the future of Thomas Cook.
What’s the earliest memory you have of one of your own holidays? Let me know in the comments below.