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Key Dates

1808 Thomas Cook is born on 22 November in the village of Melbourne in Derbyshire.
1834 John Mason Cook is born on 13 January in Market Harborough, near Leicester.
1841 Thomas Cook organises his first excursion, a rail journey from Leicester to a temperance meeting in Loughborough. On Monday 5 July a special train carries some 500 passengers a distance of 12 miles and back for one shilling. 
1845 Thomas Cook conducts his first trip for profit. It is a railway journey to Liverpool from Leicester, Nottingham and Derby. Fares are 15/- first class and 10/- second class, with a supplementary charge for travelling by special steamer to North Wales. The handbook produced to accompany this tour is Thomas Cook’s first travel-related publication.
1846 Thomas visits Scotland for the first time. A party of about 350 people travels from Leicester to Fleetwood, then to Ardrossan by steamer, and onwards by rail to Glasgow. Special trips are made to Edinburgh, Stirling and Ayr.
1851 Thomas Cook promotes trips to the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park. More than 150,000 people from Yorkshire and the Midlands, including a party of 3,000 children from Leicester, Derby and Nottingham, travel to London under his arrangements.
1851 The Excursionist is published for the first time as Cook’s Exhibition Herald and Excursion Advertiser.
1855 Thomas Cook’s first continental tour. He personally conducts two parties from Harwich to Antwerp, then on to Brussels, Cologne, Heidelberg, Strasbourg and, finally, to Paris for the International Exhibition. Thomas Cook offers a complete holiday “package” (comprising travel, accommodation and food) for the first time. Thomas also offers a foreign exchange service for the first time.
1863 Thomas Cook visits the Alps for the first time and helps to establish Switzerland as a summer holiday destination. A journal of his first trip, written by Miss Jemima Morrell, survives in the Thomas Cook Archives.
1864 John Mason Cook, aged 30, joins his father in business. 
1865 Thomas Cook opens his first high-street shop in Fleet Street, London, the upper floor of which is used as a Temperance Boarding House.
1866 John Mason Cook personally conducts the first American tour.
1868 Thomas Cook introduces a system of hotel coupons (which he had tested the previous year) in an attempt to get fixed prices for accommodation at selected hotels in all major cities. 
1869 Thomas Cook escorts his first party to Egypt and Palestine.
1871 Thomas Cook & Son becomes the official name of the firm.
1872/73 Thomas Cook organises and leads the first round-the-world tour. He is away from home for 222 days and covers more than 29,000 miles.  
1873 Thomas Cook & Son opens its new head office at Ludgate Circus, London.  
1873 Cook's Continental Time Tables & Tourist’s Handbook is published for the first time.
1874 Thomas Cook's version of the circular note, known simply as “Cook’s Circular Note” and a precursor of the travellers cheque, is launched in New York.
1875 Thomas Cook’s first cruise takes place in the seas around Scandinavia, when the firm develops the ‘Midnight Sun’ tour to the North Cape in collaboration with the Bergen Line.
1878 A distinct Foreign Banking and Money Exchange Department is established.
1879 John Mason Cook officially takes charge of the firm and sets about transforming the business from its barely profitable foundations into a successful global organisation. 
1884 The relief force sent to rescue General Gordon from Khartoum is conveyed up the Nile as far as Wadi Halfa by Thomas Cook & Son. 
1886 John Mason Cook launches his new fleet of luxurious Nile steamers, aboard which the cream of Victorian society are pampered.
1891 Thomas Cook celebrates its 50th anniversary.
1892 Thomas Cook dies, aged 83.
1896 Thomas Cook & Son is appointed Official Passenger Agent for the first modern Olympic Games in Athens.
1898 Kaiser Wilhelm II's tour of the Holy Land is organised by John Mason Cook and his son Frank.
1899 John Mason Cook dies suddenly at the age of 65. The company passes into the hands of his three sons: Frank, Ernest and Thomas (‘Bert’).
1902 Thomas Cook’s “Excursionist” newspaper is transformed by his grandsons into the more upmarket “Traveller’s Gazette” magazine to better reflect the company’s clientele.
1908 Thos Cook & Son issues its first winter sports brochure.
1919 Thos Cook & Son is the first travel agent in the UK to advertise pleasure trips by air.
1922 Thos Cook & Son organises the first escorted tour through Africa from Cairo to the Cape. The tour lasts five months and includes a one-month safari.
1924 Thos Cook & Son Ltd is incorporated.
1926 The head office of Thos Cook & Son Ltd moves to Berkeley Street in London’s Mayfair district.
1927 Thos Cook & Son organises the first personally-conducted air tour. A group of six people fly from New York to Chicago for the Dempsey-Tunney heavyweight boxing contest. The price of the package – including flights, hotel accommodation and ringside seats – is $575 (equivalent to more than £6000 today).
1928 Frank and Ernest Cook, the two surviving grandsons of Thomas Cook (Bert having died in 1914), retire, selling the business to the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits et des Grands Express Européens.
1939 Holidays by air on specially chartered aircraft to the French Riviera are included in Cook’s summer brochure for the first time.
1948 Thos Cook & Son Ltd becomes state-owned under the British Transport Holding Company. 
1959 Thomas Cook introduces to business clients a new worldwide credit scheme for travel and related services.
1965 Thomas Cook’s net profits exceed £1 million for the first time.
1966 Thomas Cook celebrates its 125th anniversary.
1972 Thomas Cook is privatised and bought by a consortium of Midland Bank, Trust House Forte and the Automobile Association.
1974 Thomas Cook introduces a new worldwide corporate logo – the words “Thomas Cook” in ‘flame’ red – and launches a customer protection guarantee in UK retail shops.
1977 Thomas Cook opens its new administrative headquarters at Thorpe Wood in Peterborough. 
1977 Thomas Cook introduces uniforms for its retail staff.
1981 Thomas Cook launches “Holidaymaker”, a private viewdata platform that allows travel agents to access Thomas Cook Holidays’ reservation system.
1982 Thomas Cook purchases Rankin Kuhn Travel.
1984 The “Don’t Just Book It, Thomas Cook It!” tagline is introduced.
1986 Thomas Cook opens its first call centre in Birmingham, to cope with the number of telephone enquiries received by retail shops in the area.
1988 Thomas Cook Direct is established.
1989 The long-standing agreement with Wagons-Lits comes to an end and the development of a new worldwide network begins.
1990 Thomas Cook becomes the world's leading foreign exchange retailer when it acquires the retail foreign exchange operations of Deak International.
1991 Thomas Cook celebrates its 150th anniversary. 
1992 Westdeutsche Landesbank, Germany’s third largest bank, and the LTU Group, Germany’s leading charter airline, acquire the Thomas Cook Group from Midland Bank.
1994 Thomas Cook acquires Interpayment Services Limited, the travellers cheque subsidiary of Barclays Bank plc, to become the world's largest supplier of travellers cheques outside the United States.
1994 Following a major review of its global activities, Thomas Cook sells its travel management business to American Express.
1995 Thomas Cook launches its first corporate website.
1996 Thomas Cook acquires Sunworld, the UK and Ireland’s fourth largest short-haul tour operator, and Time Off, the specialist European city breaks tour operator.
1997 Thomas Cook On-Line is launched, making Thomas Cook the first UK retail travel agency to offer customers a way to buy holidays, foreign currency, travellers cheques and guidebooks over the Internet.
1998 Thomas Cook Direct Businesses open a new call centre in Falkirk. 
1998 Sunworld acquires the Flying Colours Leisure Group, one of the UK’s medium-sized tour operators and leisure airlines.
1999 The European Commission approves the merger of Thomas Cook and Carlson Leisure Group’s UK travel interests. 
1999 JMC is formed (by combining the former operating brands Sunworld, Sunset, Flying Colours, Inspirations and Caledonian Airways) and becomes the UK’s third largest tour operator and airline business.
2001 Thomas Cook completes the sale of its Global and Financial Services division to Travelex.
2001 Thomas Cook is acquired by the German travel company Condor & Neckermann, which changes its name to Thomas Cook AG and launches a new logo.
2003 The newly-branded Thomas Cook Airlines is officially launched in the UK.
2003 Thomas Cook becomes the new sponsor of Manchester City FC.
2004 Thomas Cook launches flexibletrips.com and flythomascook.com.
2005 Thomas Cook celebrates “150 Years of Taking Britain Abroad”.
2007 Thomas Cook AG and MyTravel Group plc merge to form Thomas Cook Group plc, bringing a stronger Nordic focus with the incorporation of Ving, Spies and Tjäreborg.
2011 Thomas Cook merges its UK retail operations with those of the Co-operative Group and the Midlands Co-operative Society, creating the UK’s largest ever chain of travel agents.
2012 Thomas Cook is an Official Supporter of the London Olympics and provides UK short breaks and trips to the Games.
2013 Thomas Cook unveils its new group logo – the “Sunny Heart” – to unify the brand identity across all markets.
2013 Thomas Cook announces that Thomas Cook Airlines in the UK, Belgium and Scandinavia, together with Condor in Germany, will be merged into a single operating division within the Thomas Cook Group.
2015 Thomas Cook Group plc announces a new strategic partnership with Chinese investment group Fosun International Limited.
2016 Thomas Cook launches Casa Cook, its sixth hotel brand.
2016 Thomas Cook Airlines introduces new routes from Manchester to Los Angeles, Boston and Cape Town.
2016 Thomas Cook celebrates its 175th anniversary.