Fine Art and General Insurance Company Ltd

The Fine Art & General Insurance Company was incorporated on July 25 1890 as the Fine Art Insurance Company. In 1917, the company became a subsidiary of the North British & Mercantile Insurance Company Ltd, which itself became a subsidiary of the Commercial Union Assurance Company Ltd in 1959. The company was dissolved on December 21 2005.

Company History

Fine arts policy

Fine Art and General Insurance Company policy header, 1921

Fine arts poster

Fine Art and General Insurance Company proposal, 1922

The company was originally established to offer fire insurance for pictures, objets d'art and art and exhibitions. It enjoyed a close alliance with the Hong Kong Fire Insurance Company until 1894 when that company gave up its London business, causing the working expenses to show

"a considerable, but unavoidable, increase".

On March 9 1894, the company changed its name to the Fine Art & General Insurance Company and soon expanded its business to include all non-life insurance. In 1909, the company began to offer employers' liability insurance and, by 1922, was offering fire, loss of profits, burglary, 'all risks', personal assurance, public liability, motor car, motor vehicle, motor cycle, baggage, plate glass, fidelity guarantee and live stock insurances.

In 1968, ownership of all the issued shares of the company passed to Commercial Union and the company became a wholly owned subsidiary carrying on the business of fire and accident insurance.

Key dates

Year Event
1890 The company is established
1894 Name changes to the Fine Art & General Insurance Company
1917 The company becomes a subsidiary of the North British & Mercantile Insurance Company
1959 North British becomes a subsidiary of the Commercial Union Assurance Company
1968 The company becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of Commercial Union
2005 The company is dissolved

Subsidiaries and constituents*

Year Company name
1906 - 1906 Aldwych Insurance Company Ltd
1901 - 1913 Pall Mall Insurance Company Ltd
1905 - 1913 Alpha Insurance Company
1906 - 1913 Southwark Insurance Company

* Please note the first date given is the date of the establishment of the company and the second date is the date the company was acquired or became a subsidiary. Where only one date is given the company was established as a subsidiary of the parent company. Where one date is preceded by a hyphen the date of the establishment of the company is not known.

Head office premises

Year Address
1890 - 1894 28 Cornhill, London
1894 - 1904 90 Cannon Street, London
1904 - 1923 89-90 Cheapside, London
1923 - 1958 64 Cornhill, London
1958 - 1969 24 Cornhill, London
1969 - St Helen's, 1 Undershaft, London

Staff and officials

General manager

Year Name
by 1891 – 1895 Claude G Hay (also secretary)
1895 – 1919 A Player Feddon (also secretary)
by 1934 – 1946 H S Milligan
1946 – 1949 Sir Thomas Frazer
1949 – 1954 E Lansdowne
1954 – 1958 at least R G Harman
by 1962 H G Moore
by 1964 – 1971 H T Frost (also secretary)

Secretary

Year Name
by 1891 – 1895 Claude G Hay (also general manager)
1895 – 1919 A Player Feddon (also general manager)
1920 – 1948 Alfred E Ridoutt
1948 – 1958 at least H G Moore
by 1962 – 1971 H T Frost (also manager by 1968)
1971 – 1977 D R Cobden
1977 – G T Spratt

Directors (1891)

  • J M Macdonald
  • The Earl de Grey
  • The Hon J Scott Montagu
  • Sir James D Linton
  • J C Horsley
  • T Humphry Ward
  • A Stuart Wortley
  • Arthur Anderson
  • E F G Hatch

Home branches and agencies

  • Liverpool (1893)
  • West End, London (by 1903)
  • Belfast (by 1903)
  • Birmingham (by 1903)
  • Bristol (by 1903)
  • Edinburgh (by 1903)
  • Glasgow (by 1903)
  • Leeds (by 1903)
  • Manchester (by 1903)
  • Newcastle (by 1903)
  • Bradford (by 1907)
  • Carlisle (by 1907)
  • Dundee (by 1907)
  • Leicester (by 1907)
  • Middlesbrough (by 1907)
  • Hull (1908)
  • Nottingham (1913)
  • Sheffield (1920)
  • Southampton (1920)
  • London (Mincing Lane) (1921)
  • Plymouth (1921)
  • Colchester (1921)
  • Darlington (by 1934)

Overseas branches and agencies

  • Hamburg, Germany (1893)
  • Paris, France (1893)
  • Brussels, Belgium (1894)
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands (1894)
  • Alexandria, Egypt (1894)
  • Dublin, Ireland (1894)

In the archive

The Aviva archive contains records relating to the running of the Fine Art & General Insurance Company between 1891 and 1997. The collection includes share ledgers, minutes, proposals, policies, investment ledgers, journals, staff records and annual reports and accounts.

Other resources

Further records can be accessed at the Guildhall Library. Visit the Glasgow City Archives for Glasgow branch shareholders' meetings agenda books, share allotment book, branch results, ledgers, journals and accounts papers between 1891 and 1960 and the Gloucestershire Archives for Tewkesbury district agency policy books between 1911 and 1943.

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