Thomas Cook archive finds new home at Leicestershire Record Office

By Rosemary Collins, 13 January 2020 - 12:37pm

The travel company’s 178-year-old archive will return to the county where it was founded after rescue efforts

Thomas Cook Archive at Record Office for Leicester Leicestershire and Rutland
The Thomas Cook archive at its new home at the Record Office for Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland (Credit: Leicestershire County Council)

The Thomas Cook archive will be preserved at the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland, ending fears for its future following the company’s collapse.

When the travel company went into administration in September, the Business Archives Council (BAC) stepped in to try to find a home for the historically significant collection.

Now the archive is in the process of being transferred to the Record Office in Wigston, where it will be publicly accessible after being catalogued by staff.

Robin Jenkins, senior archivist at Leicestershire County Council, said: “This is an internationally significant archive relating to a company which began in Leicester and was operated from there in its formative years.

“We already house an important Thomas Cook collection relating to both the man and his business.

“We see the collection as ‘coming home’ to Leicestershire and we will be delighted to look after it here and promote its use.”

The BAC worked with Thomas Cook, the Official Receiver responsible for the company’s liquidation, and accountancy firm KPMG LLP to find a home for the archives.

The Association of Business Historians also gathered evidence of the collection’s value from historians.

Leicestershire County Council leader Nick Rushton said Leicestershire Record Office’s bid to house the Thomas Cook archive was a success “because of the strong local links with Thomas Cook, as well as because the Record Office has an excellent reputation for innovative outreach work and the promotion of its collections”.

The company was founded in 1841 by Thomas Cook, a Leicestershire cabinet maker, and grew into one of the largest holiday firms in the world.

Its archive spans 178 years of British travel and social history and includes minute books, staff records, posters, travel guides and timetables.

It also features 60,000 photographic images and Thomas Cook souvenirs, including glass and china, uniforms through the ages and even a model of a Nile steamer.

The archive will be the biggest single collection at the Leicestershire Record Office.

Alison Turton, vice president of the Business Archives Council, praised the “landmark achievement” of rescuing the archive, saying it showed “the vital importance of archivists and academics working together with insolvency practitioners to ensure the survival and accessibility of business archives of national importance”.

 

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