At a fire in Broad-street in the City in 1623, Sir Hugh Myddelton let open “all the sclucea of the water cisterne in the fielde, whereby,” says Howes, ” there was plenty of water to quench the fire. The water he adds hath done many like benefits in sundry like former distresses.” The first Insurance Office for fire was the Phoenix, at the Rainbow Coffee-house, in Fleet-street, established in 1682 ; and the first for lives was that of the Mercers’ Company in 1698. The oldest now existing is The Hand-in-Hand, established in 1696. The second was the Sun Fire, projected and established by Charles Povey, author of the Present State of Great Britain with respect to its Trade by Sea and Land, 8vo, 1714. In 1806 there were only eight life offices in London; in 1839 there were seventy-two. The London Fire Brigade was established in 1833.
Source: A Handbook for London, Past and Present. Peter Cunningham. Published by John Murray 1849.