FAILED travel firm Thomas Cook has had a strong presence in East Lancashire since 2007 when it bought the My Travel Group.

This smaller operator had developed from Airtours, founded in Rossendale by local entrepreneur David Crossland.

It grew steadily over the next 35 years swallowing up smaller firms and ran its own charter airline.

At its heigh the firm employed 300 staff across two call centres at the Globe Centre, Accrington and in Helmshore.

But in February 2007 it was bought up by giant holiday operator Thomas Cook and Son, founded by a Leicester cabinet-maker, in 1841.

The new Thomas Cook Group, a giant of the holiday industry, started to run into trouble as the British love affair with package holidays in the sun started to wane and online rivals started to eat into traditional travel agents trade.

Huge losses last year forced the closure of its Accrington branch in March this year.

Yesterday's dramatic collapse saw its counterparts in Blackburn, Burnley and Colne shut ending an era of East Lancashire based holiday trade.