When international travel company Thomas Cook collapsed in September 2019 an outcry about the fate of the archive spread across social media. The archive contains a vast wealth of information on travel history including extensive written records relating to the company’s history from the firm’s foundation in Leicester in 1841. They include unique letters, brochures, posters, passenger lists and guide books produced by the firm. There are also artefacts collected by the company.
The Business Archives Council and Association for Business Historians worked with the Official Receiver to save the archive for the nation. In November 2019 a panel of representatives of the Business Archives Council, Official Receiver, archive profession and academic community was formed to decide a future home for the collection. Repositories with an interest in providing a permanent home for the archive were invited to bid, explaining why they were the best place for it to reside.
We are now very pleased and proud to announce that the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland was unanimously chosen by the judges.
Record Office staff working with colleagues in the Museums Service and with the indefatigable support of our van drivers packaged and transferred the huge quantity of material to Leicestershire. The moved was completed before Christmas and all the records are now stored here in Wigston, with larger items including a World War One memorial window located with our Museums Service.
The acquisition and transfer of this fantastic resource could not have happened without the support and dedication of many individuals and organisations and we would like to acknowledge and thank them here:
- Richard Wiltshire, of the Crisis Management Team for business archives and the Business Archives Council with
- The Official Receiver and Insolvency Service, worked to save the archive.
- Simon Dixon and Vicky Holmes of the Manuscripts and Special Collections Department, University of Leicester
- Katharine Short, Special Collections Manager, DeMontfort University
- Helen Foster and the East Midlands Oral History Archive (EMOHA)
- Clare Watson and the Media Archive for Central England (MACE)
Provided letters of support for our application and we are looking forward to using the collection more fully with their help and interest.
- Colleagues across Leicestershire County Council and in our partner authorities: Leicester City Council and Rutland County Council.
- Paul Smith, former archivist for Thomas Cook who has given generous advice and assistance regarding the collection.
Last, but not least, we must thank the staff at Thomas Cook for their courtesy, help and understanding during the transfer of the collection. We hope to keep in touch with them and capture their memories for the archive in due course.
Thomas Cook Archive in New Home
Nile Cruise 1905
Despite the loss of the Thomas Cook company, we are pleased to preserve the archive for the future and look forward to ensuring that its legacy lives on.
Robin Jenkins, Jenny Moran and the Staff of the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland