17 Jun 2008
Before the merger of CGU and Norwich Union, group company archives were based all over the country. There were major archive stores in Perth, London and Norwich with further material at Kenley, York, and in various group basements and storage cupboards from Aberdeen to Exeter.
Since then our main aim has been to establish in Norwich one archive for all Aviva Group companies and to maintain all historic material relating to the group in secure, stable conditions. We have not only amalgamated the original three archives but also called in material from Document Retention Centres at Dunnington and Kenley and from the basements in St Helen's. We have also received material from Exeter, Schomberg House and numerous branch offices throughout the country.
We have not limited our search to material held within the group but have also attempted to bring material back into our own archive which had been deposited externally. Now, with the exception of material held in the Guildhall Library, London, all major deposits relating to group companies have been returned to us, sometimes after a period of 30 years or more out of group custody.
Nor have we limited ourselves geographically but have begun to call in material from our overseas branches and subsidiaries. There does not appear to be the quantity of older material for which we might have hoped but we have received substantial deposits from Canada and from France, including material dating from the establishment of our subsidiary L'Abeille in 1856.
We are now one of only two remaining professionally run archives in the insurance industry, and we are justly proud of our achievements and of the quality of material we hold. We cover over 300 years of group history from the first minute book of the Hand-in-Hand in 1696 right up to the latest promotional material from Australia.
In addition to the material you might expect, such as items relating to fire fighting and photograph albums of staff, we have more unusual material such as a ceremonial Chinese parasol, which is the oldest existing example of its kind in the world and was given to the general manager of General Accident by staff at Shanghai branch in 1929.
We are especially pleased that the archive represents all the companies in the group, with substantial collections for Commercial Union, General Accident, North British & Mercantile, Northern, Norwich Union, Scottish Union and National and the Yorkshire. In the course of my cataloguing, I have now identified over 650 group companies, almost all of which are represented in the archive to some extent.
Much of the success of the archive is down to the donations, help and advice we continue to receive and I am very grateful for all your efforts. In particular I would like to thank everyone who wrote or e-mailed with memoirs of their experiences working for group companies and to ask anyone who may have records or material to contribute to please let get in touch.
Aviva Group Archive
PO Box 4
8 Surrey Street
01603 682 645