Following the flame: Stoke on Trent - Peacock and Spencroft revealed
30 May 2012
Posted by: Anna Stone
Subjects: Interesting stories
The earliest reference to Aviva companies operating in the Potteries dates from 1814 when Norwich Union Fire had an agent at Hanley. Four years later Norwich Union Life was being represented by James Smith and in 1824 by Thomas Albutt whose family were still acting as agents in 1868.
In 1892 G F Mocatta was appointed district manager for the society on a salary of £150 pa. Offices were rented on the High Street for £20 pa and a clerk, W Allcock, was appointed on a salary of 8s a week. Two decades later Norwich Union's local inspector for the Potteries was based in this office at Burslem on the corner of Moorland Road and Swan Bank.
In 1916 General Accident left their premises at Cheapside Hanley for Clarence Chambers, Wolfe Street Stoke, which was "more convenient for the potteries district". In 1927, when Wolfe Street became known as Kingsway, Norman Leslie Blundell was appointed inspector at Stoke for General Accident. His employment agreement entitled him to tram and third class railway fares and out of pocket expenses not exceeding 2 shillings and 6 pence per day.
In 1962 Norwich Union Group opened new offices at 40 Trinity Street Hanley.
Norwich Union staff moved in from premises at 56 Stafford Street...
...merging with staff of Scottish Union and National who had previously been at 7 Brook Street.
It is to be hoped that the new building was well insured as it was both set alight and burgled within a few years. In 1967 this photograph appeared in the staff magazine showing the aftermath of a fire in a room occupied by a tenant...
...and in 1969 this damage was done by three youthful burglars all aged under 11.
By 1971 General Accident's staff, who now numbered 42, had moved to Churchill House, Regent's Road. The manager was G A Green and the total premium income for 1970 was £432,327. By 1979 the branch was under the control of Derek P Fishleigh.
Staff numbers had increased to 70 serving 34,000 policy holders and processing 7,000 claims each year. The accident premiums alone for 1979 were £1 million.
The photograph below shows the company's new premises at Hayes House, 25 Albion Street Hanley which were finally opened in 1985.
Staff had been waiting a while for the move because of the discovery on the site of three unrecorded mine shafts and two coal seams. The seams, known as Peacock and Spencroft were believed to date back to the early 1700s and to have been mined by the Albion Colliery to supply the kilns of the surrounding potteries. Before work on the new building could begin 474 tons of special grouting was used to stabilise the site!