Lincoln Co-Op Travel

Words by:
Alan MIddleton
Featured in:
April 2018

Lincoln Co-operative first got involved in the travel trade in 1899 when it announced that it had started an agency for Cook’s Excursion Club to take members on personally conducted excursions to the Great Paris Exhibition of 1900.

Subscriptions of one shilling (5 pence) per week were required from members, and a total of sixty-one subscriptions, to take part in the trip. For this, members would leave Lincoln on Saturday afternoon and spend Sunday, Monday and Tuesday in Paris, where reserved accommodation was secured. Breakfast and dinner were provided each day and two admittances to the exhibition were given. All fees to servants and porters were paid, luggage was conveyed on arrival and departure, and an excursion to the palace and grounds of Versailles was included.

In the 1920s several excursions by train were organised by the Society itself – not through agents – first to London, the train picking up and dropping off at Harmston and Leadenham on the way; and later to Manchester. The Manchester trips also included visits to Co-op factories in the area. All meals were provided throughout the day. The cost of these adventures was just under £1 for Manchester and a little more for London.

The 1929 outing to Edinburgh was again organised in conjunction with Cook’s and the London, Midland and Scottish Railway Company. The format appears to have been much the same: a long train journey to begin and end, breakfast and supper served onboard, and coach tours around Edinburgh including luncheon and high tea. The cost on this occasion was 32s. 6d. The 1930 outing, again very similar in style, was to Torquay with 356 members taking part, but it was not unusual for numbers to exceed 500. From this point on, the outings became a regular feature of the Society’s calendar and proved very popular with members, who saved up throughout the year to participate. This was in effect their annual holiday. The format had been clearly established and was not significantly changed.

In 1931 the ‘day trip’ was to Glasgow, Kyles of Bute and Inveraray and members were promised a 180-mile steamer trip in ‘calm waters’. The cost was 35 shillings, equivalent to over £100 today. Readers can get a flavour of these outings from the itinerary for the 1932 excursion to the Isle of Wight. The train departed from Lincoln Central Station at 3am and travelled to Portsmouth. Members were served breakfast on the train. On arrival at Portsmouth they transferred to the Isle of Wight ferry and were transported to the island. On arrival they boarded a number of coaches for a full day tour including luncheon and high tea. After tea they once again boarded the ferry and returned to Portsmouth where they spent the evening, or at nearby Southsea. At 10pm they re-boarded the train and were served supper, before arriving back in Lincoln the next morning. The cost again was 35 shillings. Some day out!

Between 1933 and 1939 there were trips to Rhyl, Penzance, Loch Tay, Margate, Northern Ireland, Glasgow and Devon. Members Outings were suspended for the duration of the war and in 1947 the committee announced a new partnership, this time with the Workers Travel Association (WTA). The first outing after the war was in 1949 to Llandudno but numbers were down and the 1950 trip, which would have been to the Wye Valley, had to be cancelled due to lack of interest. Lincolnshire Co-operative now has travel branches throughout Lincolnshire arranging holidays all over the world.

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