Bridge Travel Group, founded in 1949 by Jerry Bridge’s late father, Walter Bridge, specialised in European short break package holidays. Walter was both an enterprising entrepreneur and an early UK travel industry pioneer. Jerry has two early memories of his father. One – was of him racing to the Post Office with bundles of tickets and two – him always being the last one onto the beach when we were our annual family holiday in Majorca. And why is that you ask? Answer – because he was always phoning the office to get the ‘booking stats’! He had started a travel company in 1948 offering a variety of holidays to different countries in Europe but soon realised that in order to succeed he needed to ‘specialise’. Swiss Travel Service was the first company to be launched in such a way in early 1949.
Walter recruited Alma in 1951 & before too long, with his help, she set up Paris Travel Service – it was the first company in the UK to actually specialise in just one city – how unique was that?! The Bridge Travel Group went from strength to strength. Sadly, despite Jerry and his three brothers all working in the business at various stages (usually school holidays) none were ready to commit to a life in the travel industry. Consequently, the successful business was sold in 1979.
We strongly suggest you view the You Tube video to get a real insight into the early days of both the Bridge Travel Group and the travel industry – it’s also culturally very interesting.
Bridge Travel History in Pictures
Not just an English gentleman but a fabulous businessman and dynamic entrepreneur! Bridge Travel Service began trading in 1949 specialising in holidays to the scenic lakes & mountains of Switzerland…
Post World War II the only way to go abroad was by train & ship – those were the golden days of travel and my father, Walter Bridge, was one of the first pioneers of independent travel packages and holidays to Switzerland, Belgium, Paris & Amsterdam….
Mum…Alma Hutchins…well it took a while before Dad proposed to her…! She was the inspiration for weekend breaks to Paris or short holidays to this amazing French city.
Mum began Paris Travel Service in the early 1950’s – here she has just been told they have sold their 10,000th holiday! Holidays to Paris included transport, hotels, cruises on the Bateaux Mouche, meal & even perfume vouchers…!
Being a keen linguist (Dad was fluent in French, Spanish, German, Italian, Russian & of course English) he gave away free phrase books he wrote & published to his customers.. which was pretty amazing really…!
Just before the move out of his offices in central London’s Victoria to ‘Bridge House’ in Ware, Hertfordshire…and what an a fantastic property deal that was too
One of Dad’s earliest tailormade travel itineraries, there were no bochures at this time
Happy business days at Bridge Travel…what a great life they led. Business by the early 1970’s was booming! The ‘Bridge Group’ had begun rapidly expanding it’s holidays and short breaks to new areas such as Belgium & Amsterdam
One of the few surviving tailormade quotes Mum & Dad first put together
Classic Dad pose reading a weekend paper with one of his adverts on the back…perhaps that’s where I get it from?!
Bridge House in Ware…what a landmark that building was (used to be an old army barracks) From here they managed all their brands – Bridge Travel, Paris, Belgium, London & Amsterdam Travel Service
Dad’s new business card once they sold the company in 1979 to the Sun International Group in Belgium. Dad stayed on for a further 3 years to oversee the integration of the two businesses before he retired…well he was 70!
Classic London to Paris Race (mid 1950’s)
… And they’re off!
‘Keep an eye on that man would you Doris?!’
Dad – are you really haggling over the cost of the tickets? Always the businessman!
Where am I? Good on you Mum but still a long way to go!
The good old London Underground…hasn’t changed much since the 60’s, just non smoking!
WB – Walter Bridge of course, now that’s what I call a beauty…the car that is (& Alma!)
Quick dear, to the car, there’s no time ‘Toulouse…’!
Looks like Mum’s speedier than Dad…must be the old war wound eh?!
Mum & Dad – on the road – the classic vintage car race to Paris…
Stunning at sunset too!
We’ve done it, well done…now for some of that French wine…
Arc de Triumph – final destination!