Back in September 1959 the first Lord Bros. Air Cruise took off from London's newly-opened Gatwick Airport bound for the Canary Isles. It was the first of nine such cruises operated in the 1959-60 season. Passengers on this first cruise boarded a Douglas Dakota DC-3; it had a cruising speed of just 150 mph and a seating capacity of thirty-two.
'Cruise' was the operative word and Stephen and Christopher Lord promised their passengers they would be subject to a minimum of herding. There were no security ordeals or headlong dash for seats for the 1959 passenger and they would spend five days actually travelling to their destination.
Indeed, from Gatwick, Jersey was the first touch-down, perhaps partly to pick up more passengers who could afford the 70 guinea (£73.50p) 14 day-adventure at a time when average UK male earnings were still under £200 per annum. From Jersey the DC3 headed south to Biarritz where a break for lunch was scheduled, before continuing onward to Seville. Here passengers were transferred to the Hotel Cristina for two nights with the option of tours to the Alcazar or an evening of flamenco dancing.
The third morning promised the excitement of Africa as the DC3 pressed on to Marrakech for a further two night stopover. Back in 1959 Marrakech was little know to UK travellers but had been depicted on canvas by no less than Winston Churchill. Day five began with a short hop to Agadir, for refuelling, before the DC3 headed west to finally reach Tenerife in the afternoon, landing at Los Rodeos (now Tenerife North). Passengers now had a week to relax in Puerto de la Cruz, on the island whose volcanic beaches had yet to be discovered by the travelling hordes from Northern Europe.
The entire tour was under the watchful eye of a Lord Brothers' Courier, who, in 1959/60 brochure speak, possessed an almost impossible combination of qualities. Qualities that included an awareness of the subtle differences in behaviour of not merely the ordinary people of many lands, but (more alarmingly) the different types of bureaucrat each country delights in producing.
|Postcard from 1960s|
Velasquez Palace Tangier
The return leg of the cruise began on the afternoon of the twelfth day after a leisurely lunch in the airport restaurant at Tenerife. A refuelling stop at Agadir broke the northbound trip to Tangier. Tnagier was then only entering its third year of reunification with Morocco after almost four decades as an international zone. It enjoyed a racy image and a reputation as a haven for clandestine espionage. Lord Brothers allowed their passengers two nights to savour the city's eclectic delights based at the Hotel Velasquez Palace.
On the final and fourteenth day the DC3 took off over the Straits of Gibraltar and cruised over Spain to re-acquaint passengers with Biarritz's airport restaurant for a final lunch before continuing home to Jersey and Gatwick.
The trusty DC3 was soon replaced by a 50-seater Handley Page Dart Herald (used in the early 60s). Lord Brothers first 'World Air Cruise' lasting thirty-six days left on 27th February 1965 using a Bristol Britannia. It encompassed the wonders of Teheran, Tokyo, Honolulu, Rio de Janeiro and San Francisco. The Lord Brothers business eventually became a part of the expanding Freddie Laker travel stable in 1968. It became a part of the huge revolution in holiday habits that brought the Canary Islands to the masses, but half a century ago, the Canaries were the preserve of the few.