The summer of 1954 was wet and miserable. The weather was colder than it had been for nearly fifty years.
A pioneering young entrepreneur, originally from Russia, had already started a business that was about to change the holiday habits of the British for ever. Vladimir Raitz, 1922-2010, was the father of the modern British package holiday.
Several things helped Vladimir to find his business opportunity. He had been employed as a translator by the Reuters news agency during the war; but now the war was over. One of his friends, another expatriate Russian, had opened a holiday camp in tents on the beach at Calvi on the island of Corsica and wanted Vladimir to help him find some British people who would come as paying guests. Vladimir had spotted an opportunity to use transport aeroplanes from the war for a new purpose.
"They are still in good working condition", thought Vladimir. "But I can get them to transport people instead of military equipment."
And his grandmother, who had just died, bequeathed Vladimir £3,000.
"I need a more interesting job," thought Vladimir. "I can use the money from my inheritance as start-up capital to get the business going."
Vladimir resigned from Reuters, rented a small office in Fleet Street in London and started his business. He called it on Horizon Holidays.
He faced a lot of stiff competition from airlines who wanted to restrict his business. He was only able to take his first eleven paying passengers because they were technically teachers and students. And in the post war years there were strict government limits on the amount of foreign currency that could be taken abroad for a holiday or for business purposes.
But the business gradually took off as Vladimir began mass marketing holidays to the British that guaranteed cheap food, drink and leisure activities in the sunshine. The company soon became very successful, as customer numbers rose dramatically throughout the decades that followed.
By the time Vladimir sold his stake in the company in the early 1970s he had created a business model for the activities of low cost airlines in the last few decades of the 20th century.