A pioneer of Package Holidays
In 1955 the company set up an air holiday subsidiary ‘Wings’ and the easier walking grades and sightseeing tours migrated to the new product. The early flights were on the twin-engined Vickers Viking, a post war civilian passenger aircraft based on the Wellington bomber and carrying up to 38 passengers, flying from either London Airport (before it became what is now London Heathrow) or the now largely forgotten Blackbushe Airport (near Camberley).
Air travel was then exotic enough for our brochures to advertise the inclusion of the services of an air hostess aboard the flight as well as of ‘our resident Wings representative’ for the tour itself. Between 1957 and 1958 the size of the programme had doubled, a fortnight visiting Austria and Switzerland cost 36 guineas and the first regional flights from Manchester appeared.
Within 20 years, following the rapid development of package holidays by air, the RAS walking holiday operation had effectively become a subsidiary of Wings and in 1974 changed its name to the more familiar Ramblers Holidays Ltd.
The company had outgrown its London premises and had bought and moved into a new office block ‘Wings House’ in two acres of grounds in Welwyn Garden City in 1972. Wings was sold off in 1976 and the company moved into smaller premises in Fretherne Road in the city centre. In 2005 the company moved from its leased accommodation in Welwyn Garden City town centre to its current location at Lemsford Mill and in 2016 rebranded as Ramblers Walking Holidays. There can’t be many tour operators who’ve brought a team over from Germany to install a water wheel to power its computers, have gardeners on the payroll, and include wildlife feed (for our swans) in their overheads!
After thorough research and accounting for many changes in the travel industry, the company made the strategic decision to rebrand as Ramble Worldwide in 2023, combining its Ramblers Holidays and Adagio brands under one name and creating four unique Collections of product. The new name represented a world of new opportunities, while the business remained true to its core charitable ethos, with walking at its heart.