Following the flame: Luton - how to get rid of an insurance salesman?
08 Jul 2012
Posted by: Anna Stone
Subjects: Interesting stories
Aviva has been operating in Luton since at least 1824 when Norwich Union Life was represented by Frederick Chase.
Our earliest known branch belonged to General Life in 1879 and a decade later Scottish Accident appointed William Deacon as their man in Luton.
A letter to General Accident's agents in 1929 informed them that Mr Bouick, below, was leaving head office to open a sub branch for that company in Luton at 3-5 George Street.
George Street and Upper George Street seem to have been the Luton insurance district and by 1938 most of our major constituent companies had branches there. The photograph below shows Union's office at 25 George Street...
...while Norwich Union was operating from this building at 2 King Street.
The office moved in 1952 to Lloyds Bank Chambers in Bute Street where, according to the staff magazine, the "spacious rooms, tasteful decoration and furniture have caused much admiration with a consequent considerable rise in the prestige and dignity of the societies in this very important industrial area."
By this time Ocean Accident had opened a branch at 65-67 George Street under the management of R E A Stiff. One of the early branch reports for the staff magazine told the sorry tale of second clerk, D J Model's journey in to work.
I wonder if Mr Model made it in to work in time to be lurking at the back of this photograph?
By 1955 Commercial Union was also based at 65-67 George Street from where one of the company's inspectors set out to try and get some business from a local hat manufacturer.
Perhaps the client would have been happier placing his business with General Accident's offices which housed, by this date, C A Gibbons who was a member of the famous Luton Girls' Choir.
Three years later, in 1958, General Accident's subsidiary Road Transport and General moved from offices at 54 Alma Street to these premises at 7 Cardiff Road.
Our remaining images related to Luton are also both linked to office moves, starting with this artist's impression of the new Norwich Union offices at 37 Upper George Street from 1963.
I'll end with this photograph from 1975 which shows Commercial Union's new offices in New Bedford Road into which they moved from their former offices in Cresta House.
It doesn't seem a great deal of information to reflect nearly 200 years of history and I'd love to hear if you can add anything to it.