Polytechnic Touring Association (1884-1965)

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Polytechnic Touring Association (1884-1965)

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Members of the Polytechnic founded by Quintin Hogg (1845-1903) and its predecessors had visited his homes, including Holly Hill in Hampshire, for holidays, but increasing numbers meant that this became impractical. In 1886 trips for members were arranged to Switzerland and Boulogne. In 1888 a party of boys from the Polytechnic School toured Belgium and Switzerland to see the mountains they were learning about in geography lessons. In 1889 arrangements were made for Polytechnic parties to visit the Paris Exhibition. Cruises to Norway began in 1892. In 1893 the Director of Education Robert Mitchell (1855-1933) acquired chalets by Lake Lucerne which were to become the most famous centre for the Polytechnic Touring Association. A notable achievement was the organisation of a series of trips to Chicago to see the World's Fair in 1893: more than 1,000 people made the month-long journey. By 1894 the total number of persons participating in Continental tours exceeded 3,000, increasing to 12,000 by 1903. The steam yacht Ceylon was purchased in 1896 for cruises of the Norwegian fjords. Polytechnic employees acted as guides. The trips pioneered cheaper travel, making it accessible to less affluent travellers, and the Touring Association, organising trips in Britain and overseas and attracting customers from among non-Polytechnic members, became a substantial business. Its office was adjacent to the main entrance of the Regent Street Polytechnic building. The tours were initially organised within the general administration of the Polytechnic, though after the Scheme of Administration in 1891, there was pressure from the auditors to separate out the accounts and administration. Robert Mitchell remained the driving force until after World War One. The continued expansion of the firm after 1918 was due largely to the leadership of Cmdr Ronald G Studd: when he left the Navy in 1921 his father, Sir Kynaston Studd, President of the Polytechnic, invited him to take over the management of the tours. He did this very successfully, expanding the range of tours to include southern Europe. When the Creative Tourist Agents Conference was formed, Studd became chair. In the 1960s the concern was taken over by the firm of Henry Lunn Ltd to form the travel retailer Lunn Poly.


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