Goodbye Paul Smith


No, not the British fashion designer, the other one, the archivist at Thomas Cook. He’s just been in touch with the sad news that after 23 years he has been made redundant. With his departure the archive will likely be much less accessible than before, not least because Paul is the only person who knows what’s in it. The Thomas Cook Archive is a wonderful thing, an extensive repository of the history of tourism, the equal of which I doubt exists anywhere in the world. At the company headquarters in Peterborough, north of London, from his desk just off a corridor (itself an indication of the way things were going), Paul has presided over a storeroom absolutely stuffed with journals, letters, diaries, contracts, posters, tickets, plans and schedules, not to mention crockery and cutlery, uniforms, an ancient Egyptian statuette (once used as a doorstop) and much, much more. Paul made sure all this was accessible to historians, researchers and authors from around the world, myself included. There is a lot of material in the archive that relates to Egypt and my two books, Grand Hotels of Egypt and On the Nile, would not have been written without Paul’s help.

The archive is currently closed and while it will re-open at the beginning of July, after Paul’s departure in June, there are no plans to appoint a professional archivist as Paul’s successor. The archives will be managed for the foreseeable future by internal marketing staff, which means it can only be a matter of time before the whole lot is sold off.


Filed under Memorabilia

6 Responses to Goodbye Paul Smith

  1. Janine

    This is outrageous. I hope you will have the means to acquire this archive one way or another.

  2. Janine

    I have great difficulty accepting that management at Thomas Cook’s have no sense of historic values, apparently.

  3. Ross Weintraub

    I just learned of this archive and that they have a professional archivist and now they don’t; this is horrible news.

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  6. Ziad Morsy

    There is big momentum now on social media to save the archives.
    I quote the following from Mike Anson:
    ”Please contact me if you can help in making the case for the value and significance of these records and for the need for them to be properly maintained and made available to current and future users.
    Thank you.
    Mike Anson
    ABH Archives Representative

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