The huge archive of defunct travel company Thomas Cook is to be preserved at the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland.

The archive, which includes records from the mid-19th century right up to the present day, faced an uncertain future following the firm’s collapse last year.

Incorporating thousands of individual items, including staff records, posters, travel guides, photographs and timetables, the archive will now be catalogued by record office staff before being made available to the public.

Robin Jenkins, senior archivist at Leicestershire County Council, said: “This is an internationally significant archive relating to a company which began in Leicester and was operated from there in its formative years. We already house an important Thomas Cook collection relating to both the man and his business. We see the collection as ‘coming home’ to Leicestershire and we will be delighted to look after it here and promote its use.”

Thomas Cook founded his travel company in Leicester and ran his first excursion from there to Loughborough in 1841. The company grew rapidly and by 1855 was running continental tours, opening a London office in 1865. In 1878, Cook himself retired to Leicester, where he died in 1892.

An exhibition inspired by Thomas Cook’s story is due to open at Leicester’s Newarke Houses and New Walk museums in June.