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The colonnaded ‘Essex & Suffolk Fire Office, Colchester. c1908.  Photo perhaps taken on Empire Day. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

The colonnaded ‘Essex & Suffolk Fire Office, Colchester. c1908. Photo perhaps taken on Empire Day. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

These pages have been created to commemorate the employees of the ‘Essex and Suffolk Equitable Insurance Society … created “in memory of those who died for freedom in the wars of 1914-1919 & 1939-1945”.

When the Society began in 1802, it was called ‘The Essex Equitable Insurance Society’ – the word “Suffolk” was added in 1806.

To celebrate the Society’s 150th birthday in 1952, the book ‘The Fire Office’ being the history of The Essex and Suffolk Equitable Insurance Society Limited 1802 – 1952’ by Bernard Drew was written – it documents the Society’s history of the Society from establishment until 1952.  Two short passages from the book will be reproduced in the next chapter, relevant to the Society’s War Memorial.

The ‘Essex & Suffolk Fire Office’, in Colchester’s High Street, was considered the Society’s “Head Office” but it would appear that, eventually, this was not the reality.

A long article printed in the Essex County Standard (28 November 1952) mentions the time when, in 1911, the Atlas Assurance Company merged with the ‘Essex and Suffolk’.  One passage suggests that the Colchester Fire Office was “headquarters” in name only [sic]:

“… The Atlas offered as one of its conditions the continuance of the head office in Colchester, and though it was not long before chairman, manager and secretary were all in London, and the “head office” was presided over by a “Colchester Manager”, the Essex and Suffolk has never lost its peculiarly personal position among the county’s commercial enterprises.  …”

Certainly, prior to the outbreak of the First World War, neither General Manager Sydney Claridge Turner nor Secretary Sydney Frank Hale has been discovered living/having a home in Colchester.

Our family held a long-standing interest in the ‘Essex and Suffolk Equitable Insurance Society Ltd. before the discovery of the existence of the War Memorial.

Clifford Walter Garling, a cousin of the author’s father-in-law, worked as an Insurance Clerk for the ‘Essex and Suffolk’ – first in Ipswich and, then, in Colchester.   He became the Vice-President of the ‘Insurance Institute of Ipswich and Suffolk’ for the period 1949-1950 and the President for 1950-51.

The colonnaded ‘Essex & Suffolk Fire Office’, Colchester. 1951. Showing the addition of a new top floor. Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

The colonnaded ‘Essex & Suffolk Fire Office’, Colchester. 1951. Showing the top floor addition.
Courtesy of Heather Anne Johnson.

NEXT:  THE ‘ESSEX & SUFFOLK FIRE OFFICE’ WAR MEMORIAL