Following the flame: Ipswich - bicycle under a bus!
05 Jul 2012
Posted by: Anna Stone
Subjects: Interesting stories
Ipswich is another place where Aviva has a long history. Our earliest known agents, John Taylor and S Atkinson, appear in this advertisement for Norwich General in 1796.
By 1799 Thomas Ridley was acting for Norwich Union Fire and the Ridley family, via Mr H Ridley, was representing Norwich Union Life from 1818.
The link with the Ridley family continued to at least 1877 by which time Norwich Union Fire was represented by G & O Ridley.
By this date Commercial Union was also operating in Ipswich having appointed the auctioneer Benjamin Rix agent in 1864. In 1908 Commercial Union opened an Ipswich branch at Northgate Chambers and by 1910 this was under the control of A W Hewett. Other Aviva constituents operating in Ipswich by this date were Employers' Liability , operating at 45 Princes Street under the control of Waters and Son, and Scottish Union and National which moved that year to 12 Tavern Street having opened a branch at 13 Museum Street in 1905.
Norwich Union opened a branch in Ipswich in 1912 under the management of Cuthbert Becher Pigot. The branch was established at 21 Princes Street but moved several times before taking up residence, in 1928, at 12a Princes Street in the building below which had previously been the Waterloo Hotel.
By this date General Accident had also opened a branch in Ipswich with offices at Buttermarket Chambers where they were still operating in 1952 under manager W G G Emuss. By this date Commercial Union were occupying premises on Princes Street which they had moved into in 1913. The photograph below shows the building decorated for the coronation in 1953.
In 1951 the manager, Mr Tillotson, was working in his office on the first floor of the building when he heard a crash. Looking out of the window he saw that a bicycle which had been stood against the kerb had been blown over by a gust of wind into the path of passing bus. Having surveyed the wreckage he hurried down to the main office and found the owner of the unfortunate bicycle, a Roman Catholic priest, was actually at that moment busy filing out a pedal cycle proposal form. Unaware of the fate of his vehicle the priest was about to sign the form thus facing the manager with a dilemma as technically the bicycle was not yet insured.
The Ipswich correspondent later wrote in the staff magazine: "To pay or not to pay, that was the question." He continued: "It was quickly decided that here was a case where private enterprise insurance could and should be generous and so the proposal was completed, premium paid and the claim settled in full. The reverend gentleman's new bicycle is now insured with us!"
Another interesting vehicle-related story from Ipswich concerns a landau which was insured with Employers' Liability in 1958. It was in fact no ordinary landau but a bone fide film star having featured alongside the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier in the "Prince and the Showgirl". The carriage had been retired from the film industry after an illustrious career which also involved roles in "The Wicked Lady" and "The Gypsy and the Gentleman".
1958 saw Norwich Union's Ipswich branch change address without moving offices at all. The re-numbering of Princes Street meant No 12a became No 20.
The following year the branch was refurbished with the photographs of the result, above and below, being published in the staff magazine.
A decade later General Accident's Ipswich office finally became a full branch and moved into these premises at 24a Upper Brook Street which had previously been the Ipswich home of its subsidiary Road Transport and General.
Their stay in Upper Brook Street was short and in 1972 staff moved again to new premises at 1 Tacket Street where, in 1978, they demonstrated their support for Ipswich Town's FA cup bid with the window display shown below.
We have two further moves to report for Ipswich, the first came in 1982 when Norwich Union's staff moved next door to these modern offices at 16-18 Princes Street.
Three years later General Accident's 86 Ipswich staff moved to the impressive Hyde Park House at 1 Crown Street. The photograph below shows the architect's model of the branch...
...and this shows an artist's impression.
I'll end with an extract from an Ipswich proposal form received in 1953 by our constituent company, British General: "Q3: Business or Profession (if more than one, state all). A: All".