Often an individual, organisation or company will purchase a number plate due to their initials or name being reflected in the combination of numbers and digits. One such purchase, NU 1, was made by Norwich Union, now part of Aviva, one of the nation’s most respected insurance companies.

Norwich Union was founded in 1797 by Thomas Bignold, a wine and spirits merchant who had moved to Norwich a decade before. Aware of the risks and dangers of fire to the city’s buildings, he teamed up with a number of local business to form what was known as a mutual society, a forerunner of today’s insurance companies. A savvy businessman, he also set up a second company that supplied private fire engines to those who had taken out insurance. If your building didn’t have one of their metal ‘insurance marks’ bolted somewhere on the facade, you were out of luck!

Norwich Union also had a reputation for being savvy and creative in its wording. In 1842, when a policy-holder died while being transported as a convict to Australia, the company was able to withhold payout due to ‘unauthorised travel’.

While the company grew far beyond Norwich over the course of the 19th century, the company remained fiercely proud of its origins. In the 1870s, the company adopted the spire of the city’s cathedral as its logo and a variation of it can be found in today’s Aviva logo. To this day Aviva has remained one of the city’s major employers and is a major sponsor of the ‘Canaries’ - Norwich City Football Club.

Over the years the company’s range of products expanded to insure against theft, loss of life and other forms of damage, and has insured figures from Queen Victoria to Freddie Mercury. As part of Aviva, and now a major provider of car insurance, it continues to innovate, and has branched out into investing in technologies and education campaigns to make British roads safer.

The NU 1 private number plate is a very tangible piece of Norfolk and British history. It represents both a major success story and innovation becoming tradition over time. If you would like to become part of the next chapter of this plate, get in touch.

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