Following the flame: Taunton - 'tea fancies' and tipple
21 May 2012
Posted by: Anna Stone
Subjects: Interesting stories
The earliest reference to Taunton in the archive is 1818 when Henry James Leigh was acting agent for Norwich Union Life. By 1820 Norwich Union Fire also had an agency there and West of England was operating in the area. In 1837 Henry Monk Lake, a local auctioneer, took out the policy below on the life of Mary Ann Lines.
Although records are scarce we know that Commercial Union appointed local grocer, J Bult, and accountant Henry Phelps as agents in the 1860s. By 1860 Thomas Kite was agent for Yorkshire Fire and Life Insurance Company and arranged the policy below for Sarah Smith on cottages and offices in Ruishton.
By the following decade Railway Passengers Assurance was operating in Taunton and paid £66 15s compensation to a local builder who "struck knee with hammer".
In 1925 General Accident opened a sub branch in Taunton at Bridge House under manager E G Webber and in 1946 Norwich Union were looking for new premises there. The lovely photograph below shows their potential new site at 1 Cheapside.
In 1956 Taunton became a full branch for General Accident and staff spent most of the year working from Bath while new offices at 11 The Crescent were completed.
The company continued to keep records of their activities in the area including this "who's who" at Taunton from 1976...
...and details on the establishment of a team to deal with claims after major floods on May 30 1979.
The company's new offices at Kingslake House, 23 The Crescent were opened in 1982 and won a bronze plaque award from the Borough Council. My favourite piece of their history, however, concerns the house warming for their new offices in 1956. Our files include original receipts for refreshments, ordered from local firm Maynard’s, as sanctioned by manager George H Croker.
The company spent £19 9s 8d on food including five dozen "afternoon tea fancies", four pounds of sliced tongue, three tins of asparagus tips and two jars of cocktail cherries. The drinks bill ran to £23 7s 3d and included three bottles of whisky, two of amontillado and four of Gordons Gin.