Shropshire Star

Hot topic: Volunteers create digital register of historic fire insurance policies

Volunteers at Shropshire Archives have put together a digital register of fire certificates issued to buildings in the county in the aftermath of the Great Fire of London.

Fire brigade (Shropshire Archives image PH/B/16/9/8)

The series of 12 books, listing fire insurance policies taken out with Salop Fire Office between 1780 and 1889, covers properties in both Shropshire and Montgomeryshire.

Councillor Rob Gittins, cabinet member for culture and digital, has said this index holds important information about the county's "social and economic history".

He said: “The volunteers have done a fantastic job of creating this searchable index of what is an important source of information of our social and economic history.

"Although I am sure it will also be of interest to genealogists and not just social historians."

The project was launched during the first lockdown, as a way of keeping volunteers connected with the Shropshire Archives service, when they were unable to be on site.

Judith Pinfold, one of the volunteers, was responsible for transcribing records that included Lord Berwick taking out a policy for Attingham Hall, and Dr Robert Waring Darwin – father of Charles Darwin– who in 1797 insured his “new built house of Frankville near Shrewsbury”.

She also came across the record for her own home and an insurance policy taken out by Mr Philip Ireland, who in 1822 insured “his now dwelling house”.

Judith said: “The early handwritten pages sometimes caused confusion in deciphering names and locations, especially with the Welsh place names, but the advantage of using scanned images was the ability to magnify the sections to assist with transcription.

"Working on these was pleasant and I found it reassuring to have this as part of my routine.”

Information included in each policy is the date, policy number, the property concerned, the tenant and value of the insurance. There are more than 3,000 images available on the index.

To access the index visit