Scottish Widows marks 200 years

An invitation to Scottish Widows centernary dinner
An invitation to Scottish Widows centernary dinner
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Scottish Widows commemorated its 200th birthday at the same place it celebrated its centenary in 1914.

The Balmoral Hotel and Scottish Widows are two of Edinburgh’s business landmarks celebrating a longstanding presence in the city.

Sir Walter Scott's Scottish Widows policy

Sir Walter Scott's Scottish Widows policy

To celebrate its 200th birthday, Scottish Widows has released historic images, including a programme from its 100th birthday celebrations and Sir Walter Scott’s entry in its guest book

In March 1812, a number of eminent Scotsmen gathered in the Royal Exchange Coffee Rooms in Edinburgh to consider setting up ‘a general fund for securing provisions to widows, sisters and other females.’

Scottish Widows was founded in 1815 as Scotland’s first mutual life office, originally to protect the financial futures of the widows of the Napoleonic wars.

Through its living icon, the cloaked Scottish Widow, the Edinburgh-based pension provider has become a household name, dedicated to helping people secure their financial future.

Franck Arnold, general manager at The Balmoral, said: “One hundred years ago, when we were known as the North British Station Hotel, we hosted the Scottish Widows centenary celebration in our grand Sir Walter Scott suite.

“It is an incredible achievement to be here in the same capacity today to celebrate another impressive milestone. The Balmoral and Scottish Widows remain two Edinburgh institutions intrinsically linked with the history of our city and over the past 100 years we have built up a reputation around the world for our five-star service. Many congratulations to Scottish Widows on its longevity and success, it is a pleasure to be part of the bicentenary celebrations and we look forward to celebrating another 100 years in 2115.”

From his speech given at the event in 1914, the Right Honourable the Earl of Roseberry, President of Directors of the Scottish Widows Fund Life Assurance Society, said: “I wonder to myself if the Scottish Widows’ Society will be in existence in the year 2014. Shall we be allowed in these days, or will our descendants be allowed, to insure as they wish in a Society which they choose.”

Ronnie Taylor, Pensions and Investments Director, Scottish Widows, said: “It was Scotland’s first mutual life insurance company, and opened for business in a small office in Princes Street, just around the corner from here.

Sir Walter Scott's entry in the guestbook

Sir Walter Scott's entry in the guestbook

“One hundred years ago, Scottish Widows held a centenary dinner in the very same room, the Sir Walter Scott Suite in what is now the Balmoral Hotel. But the Scottish Widows story is not just about the institution itself. It’s also about the long-term relationships we’ve built with advisers and customers. Together, we’ve been helping people and companies plan for their financial future and protect themselves against eventualities, so they can be better prepared and get on with living their lives.”