Thornton’s Travel History

The History of Thornton’s Travel

The company was incorporated on the 24th July 1940. It was based in Avonmouth, it’s activities being that of shipping agent for Bristol City, Avonmouth, Cardiff and Newport Docks.

In early 1948 the company started a secondary operation, that of a travel agent. The two operations, operated side by side. By 1958 the travel agency business surpassed the activities of the shipping agency. From then onwards the travel agency became increasingly dominant and with the demise of Bristol City Docks the shipping activities diminished and were finally wound down in 1968.

In November 1944 the Avonmouth offices moved to Bristol’s Baldwin Street and started its journey to become Bristol’s leading independent travel agent under the stewardship of Reg Taylor, until his retirement in 1979 when Patrick Murphy was appointed as MD having joined the company in 1967.

Under his guise and that of his fellow directors John Stephens, Anne Taylor and Mollie Jones, the company expanded. Offices were then opened in Clevedon, Portishead, Filton, Staple Hill, Old Market, Yatton, Clifton and Bristol Airport.

Thornton’s had many firsts, the first being to operate a charter flight to New York from Bristol (Boeing 707) and the excitement of bringing Concord into Filton, Cardiff and Exeter for the first time, for day trips around the Bay of Biscay and visits to European cities.

In 2000 Patrick became the sole owner of the company and centralised all operations to Head Office in Baldwin Street. At this time the company could see the demise of mass package holidays and decided to open a second stand alone cruise office in Bath following the success of the Bristol Cruise office. Chew Valley Travel was added to the company portfolio in 2006.

Patrick sadly passed away in 2011 with his wife Carol continuing as a Director. In Early 2016, following Carol’s decision to retire from the business, Sarah Kelley and Lee Morse acquired a majority share holding in the business.

Sarah and Lee have both held long-standing positions within Thornton’s and are excited to take the company forward.

With over 75 years of bringing the world to you, we pride ourselves on the service given to our clients, it’s the key to our success. As a well established independent company we are extremely flexible, adapting easily and efficiently to the changing needs of our customers.

The Thornton’s Travel team have a wealth of travel experience and have travelled extensively. We pride ourselves on giving personal and exceptional service at all times, going that extra mile, looking after all your travel needs and special requests. We offer a wide range of travel opportunities from short breaks, tailor-made holidays and lifetime experiences.

In our dedicated specialist cruise department, the current staff have travelled the globe and between them possess over 50 years of experience in the cruise industry.Thornton’s remains uniquely placed to provide you with a wonderful collection of cruises and to organise your holiday of a lifetime.

Our experienced and inspired Business Travel team utilise the latest technology, providing you with a service tailored for your company’s travel policy. We can drive costs down whilst still ensuring your budget is maximised globally. We are proud to be part of the elite Focus Partnership, the country’s largest travel management organisation. Thornton’s Travel ‘Your Local Agent with Global Reach’

In 2017 Thornton’s Travel are excited to relaunch the company’s websites and promoting a bigger and better online presence.