June 25, 2013
By the early twentieth century, many Co-operative Societies were beginning to offer excursions and holidays to members, as average incomes rose and new resorts such as Blackpool developed to cater to the working classes.
CWS opened its first Excursion Department in 1905, to work with railways, steamers, and tour operators to get the best rates for Co-operative Society’s excursions. The first excursion travelled to the Isle of Man in July 1905. The original department was run out of the Paper and Twine Department in Manchester, overseen by Harry Wiggins – but it soon grew into a department of its own.
In 1920, CWS arranged its first overseas excursion, taking a party to visit the battlefields of the Great War; it also published its first holiday guide. By the 1950s, now known as the CWS Travel Service, the department had become one of the five largest travel agencies in Britain and had begun to organize air travel for Co-operative Societies and their members.