Following the flame: Durham - 'accident in the fields'
16 Jun 2012
Posted by: Anna Stone
Subjects: Interesting stories
Durham is yet another spot on the Olympic flame route for which we have over 200 years of history and very little in the archive to show for it. Norwich Union Fire were operating in the city by 1810 and by 1818 Norwich Union Life had appointed Francis Humble as their agent. He is listed, along with other local agents, in this advertisement of 1822...
...and this policy wrapper relates to a policy taken out through his agency.
By 1828 Yorkshire's Durham agent was solicitor John Hobson who arranged the policy below for William Stobart junior on the life of his father William Stobart senior. With hindsight this was not a good risk to take on and a year later the company paid Stobart junior £1,000 having taken just £29 15 shillings in premium income.
By 1857 Aviva companies operating in the city included Edinburgh Life with J W Smith at Church Street, North British represented by ironmonger J Boyd in Claypath and Scottish Union with Henry Smales at 47 North Baily.
By 1875 the accident specialist, Railway Passengers , was also operating in Durham. A list of claims paid for that year includes one for a commercial traveller from Durham who "fell on grass when dancing." His payment was £19 10s and the claim was listed under the heading "accident in the fields".
It seems the folk of Durham were an accident-prone lot and later booklets record payments made to a local surgeon whose arm was bitten by a horse, a clergyman who lost control of his tricycle and a student injured in a vicious game of football.
Once again it is up to General Accident to provide us with a photographic record and it has not let us down. Nearly 100 years after the “accident in the fields” the company was operating from these offices on the first floor at 13 Market Place.
This photograph, taken from a different angle, gives a better view of the surrounding area.
The actual entrance to General Accident's offices was less than impressive...
…which may have been the reason behind a move to City Chambers Claypath.
The premises department helpfully took a view up the street...
...and down it!
Some time before 1974 the company also considered offices at Bridge House...
...where again the premises department helpfully recorded the view from the proposed third floor offices.
Sadly I don't know when any of these photographs were taken nor when the move from Market Place to Claypath took place - if you can shed any light I would love to hear.