For the last few years Shropshire Archives has been running a virtual volunteering project which set out to create an electronic index of all the policies issued by the Salop Fire Office between 1780 and 1889 (reference 4791/1/1).
The final goal was to produce a detailed index which would be fully searchable via the online catalogue. The project was born out of the first lockdown with a view to keeping loyal volunteers connected with the Archives whilst they were unable to visit onsite. The fire books proved a suitable project as the books had already been digitised, which meant that the project could be rolled out relatively quickly by members of staff who were at the time working from home, and it would provide lots of work as there were over 3,000 images to index.
Each entry in the policy book usually provides a date, policy number, name of policy holder, property, tenant and value. Further details, like the occupation of the policy holder or tenant are sometimes included and sometimes there are notes on the construction of the property or contents.
Notable policy holders
During their many hours spent transcribing the books the volunteers discovered many notable entries, these 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 [sic] near Shrewsbury’.
The books are now fully indexed and available to search on the Shropshire Archives online catalogue. Staff are very grateful to all the volunteers who have contributed to this project; they have brought the books to life and allowed many more people to share this resource. More information, and tips on searching, can be found here.
Shropshire Archives continues to run remote volunteering projects alongside onsite volunteering. The current project is indexing calendars of prisoners.