5 August 2011

Fire insurance plaques

Back in the early 18th century there was no public fire brigade. Home owners would insure against fires by paying private companies who employed their own fire-fighting teams. Badges made from lead or copper displaying the relevant company logo and reference number were affixed to on the front of houses (usually at first floor level) to prove that fees had been paid. In the case of a fire, these companies would only put out the flames of those houses bearing the correct badge.
This caused all sorts of problems, especially if the fire had started in a non-insured property and spread into the insured house next door, so in January 1833 The London Fire Engine Establishment was formed. In 1865 the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Act was passed and by 1904 London had what we now call the London Fire Brigade.

Below are some of the various fire insurance plaques I have spotted in London.


  1. i don;t know whats up with the people first it was Norway and now in London. Hope we will see some peace in this world.

  2. Hi Jane,
    My name is Finn and i am currently studying at the Royal College of Art.
    I am doing some research of fire insurance plaques in London and wondered if you knew the locations of some? I live in Highbury if that helps.
    I tried to email you on the address on the right but it bounced back.

    Thanks for your time.
    All the best

    Finn Thomson

    1. Maids of Honour Row, Richmond Green.
      Also on several houses in King Edwards Row, SE1, just off Lambeth Rd.

  3. Jane you are incorrect they were introduced in the 18C ( not 19C) in 1710 by Sun Fire Office.

  4. whoops, thanks for spotting that. Have changed it.


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