Tourism was born in Market Harborough in 1841 when Thomas Cook, a local cabinetmaker, set off towards Leicester and had his dream of worldwide working-class travel. The town was born to serve travellers. Centuries before, the town had been built to provide a market place for trades-people near to the 'new' highway connecting Northampton and Leicester. Eight hundred years later, the market is still busy, though now indoors, and the original Square is still bustling with shoppers. As a boy on the playing fields of the local school, former England team captain Martin Johnson discovered his finesse in Rugby. In the nineteenth century, William Symington and his family put Market Harborough on the manufacturing map by creating pea flour and a range of tempting sauces. In the last century the town could claim to be a 'crisp capital' of England, being the home of Golden Wonder crisps.
Stephen Butt is a well-known local historian. After a career with the BBC, he now enjoys writing and research, with over twenty books in print combining local history with an interest in photography. Stephen's first degree was in Psychology and his MA degree is in English Local History. He has served as Hon Secretary of the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society. He lives in Leicestershire.