New Offices of the National Provident Institution, Eastcheap
Professor Kerr, architect
Myers and Sons, of Lambeth, builders
Source: Illustrated London News
“We present this week an Engraving of the new offices of the National Provident Institution, which was one of the earliest associations for life assurance founded on the mutual as distinguished from the proprietary principle The history of this society affords a striking example of the manner in whioh private enterprise is developed in this country.” [Continued below]
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Its growth during the twenty-seven years of its existence Has been surprising. It would be, perhaps, too trite a remark were we to say that public confidence and this institution have advanced together; but certain it is that, owing to the support whioh a bold and prudent direction has drawn to it, it has now the most important of modern companies. The number of policies in force at the date, after the payment of a million and a quarter to the families of deceased members, is about 26,000. After the first seven years of its existence the capital amounted to £139,806; it now amounts to £2,200,086; or, by the addition of the balance of profit-and-loss account for the five years ending November, 1862, it may be stated as £2,200,426. In the year 1843 the income of the National Provident Institution was £44,219; in 1867 it was £276,331; and we find, from a report issued on the 9th ult., that it has now reached £324,731, having increased £49,399 in five years. The details of the declared surpluses are not the least striking facts in connection with this company; at least, we suppose they are not so to policy holders. As the whole of the profits are the property of the from time to time divided amongst them, and not absorbed by proprietary of any kind, it is to be supposed that the quinquennial periods appointed for the declaration of bonuses are looked forward to with no little anxiety. The directors, happily, have been always able to meet their constituents on those occasions with overflowing hands. The affairs have been well managed, and the profits of this joint-stock or co-operative venture have abounded. The latest declared surplus was £345,034. This immense sum was paid away in 1867, and the directors have already announced that early in 1863 the gains of another five years will be likewise divided amongst the fortunate members of this thriving company.
The business of the National Provident Institution was at first conducted in a small office in Nicholas-lane. In 1842 the books were removed to No. 48, Graceohuroh-street; but henceforth the structure presented to the notice of the reader is to serve as the home of this institute.
This building, erected on the freehold of the company, and standing upon a square, with one front in Eastcheap and another in Grace church-street, is one of the noblest edifices ever erected for this class of business in London. Professor Kerr, a man of patient and laborious research, has shown in the design of this building that he can plan as well as theorise. He has not been backward in years past to express his opinions as to the principles which should guide the architect; but now, from his chair at King's College, he steps down to give a practical illustration — a strict diagram, in fact — which shall incontestably demonstrate, and that to a larger audience than that which crowds the class room, the truth and value of his teachings. Some years ago Mr. Kerr wrote as follows: —
The requirements of a building must be made fundamental in the arrangement of it, and therefore in the arrangement of the architectural design; and this has concealed in it much that does not at first appear. It is a fault that we arrange our plans too much by model and too little by requirement as a fundamental; and I am convinced that if the true arrangements for the ends in view were to be carefully examined into there would arise a variety in general and particular ideas of plan, map, and detail, which would not only be valuable but surprising.
On entering the building and ranging from story to story one is impressed with the feeling that the house has been made for the family, not the family made to accommodate itself to the house The architect first set himself to plan for the comfort of the occupants, next to render their dwelling beautiful as well as convenient. Hence has arisen one of the most pleasing structures we ever entered.
The ground occupied is about 3600 square feet. The two measure something like 60ft. each. In the basement dry and commodious fireproof rooms are secured for the safe custody of the constantly accumulating deeds and securities of the institution, &c. The first floor is, as usual, devoted to general business; the second story contains the boardroom, secretary's and medical attendants' rooms, &c.; in the third we find another suite of offices, while a series of apartments are constructed in the roof, as may be seen by the dormer windows. All the floors ore constructed on Barrett's fireproof patent; the enrichments of the ceilings and walls are executed in Parian cement; the exterier is of stone. It would be difficult to say in what style it is executed, and it may be perhaps sufficient to remark that great originality is apparent in the detail, which harmonises in the most agreeable manner with the general design. The conception of the whole strikes the observer as fresh and vigorous. Great credit is due to the Messrs. Myers and Sons, of Lambeth, the builders, for having done their part of the work so well; and to Mr. Rudock for having given such careful attention to stone carving.
The National Provident Institution.” Illustrated London News. (3 January 1863): 17. Hathi Trust Digital Library version of a copy in the University of Michigan Library. Web. 23 December 2015.
Last modified 14 January 2016