Following the flame: Wandsworth - why we need plate glass insurance
23 Jul 2012
Posted by: Anna Stone
Subjects: Interesting stories
Although no agents were appointed until 1818 our oldest constituent company, Hand-in-Hand , was almost certainly insuring houses here against fire from around 1731 when the company's business was extended to include all areas within 10 miles of London City and Westminster. The image shows the clasped hands (and impossibly large firemen) which featured on the company's policy header later in the century.
It is likely that Union Assurance , which worked closely with Hand-in-Hand, would have commenced operations in the area at around the same time giving us a history in this part of London that goes back nearly 275 years.
References to our more recent history in Wandsworth are few and far between due to most of the business being handled by the London City branches or head offices. The board minutes of 1867 for Commercial Union record that company appointing a soap and candle manufacturer, George Mathews, as agent in 1863.
The following year Norwich Union Life appointed H A Mortia as Wandsworth agent and the company continued appointing agents in Wandsworth into the 1890s.
By 1901 Lion Fire Insurance was also operating in the area with Mr A Swan acting as agent for Wandsworth. The extract below comes from a policy that was taken out through his agency and transferred to Yorkshire Insurance in 1902 when it acquired Lion.
In 1927 Commercial Union had a branch in Wandsworth covering South West London under manager Julien W Sharman. The branch was based at 7 Buckhold Road in 1931 and had moved to 61 Wandsworth High Street by 1938.
The move of Commercial Union to Wimbledon really brings to an end the references to Wandsworth in the archive. General Accident's South London branch, which covered Wandsworth, was based in Putney and Norwich Union's was in Croydon, through which the flame also passes today.
Indeed, Croydon seems to have been the major insurance centre on this leg of the torch route and Norwich Union Fire appointed its first Croydon agent, tea dealer and grocer William Lampriere, in 1821. General Accident opened a Croydon office in 1911 and by this date Ocean Accident was operating a Croydon branch at 34 High Street as advertised in this calendar from 1909.
Commercial Union also had a presence in Croydon from at least 1921 and in 1953 the branch moved from 139 North End to new premises at 112-114 High Street under new manager Mr Ducat. The following year staff at the branch submitted this extract from a claim form to the staff magazine.
I'll end with this photograph of a baker's window covered by General Accident's South London branch which met with another run away, this time a tyre, in 1936.