WHEN Alfred Scrutton and Francis Goodchild launched their company a century ago it is probably unlikely they would have imagined it would still exist today.

But exist it does - and 100 years on it is celebrating the milestone with offices in four counties and more than 200 employees.

Now known as Scrutton Bland following a series of historic mergers between local accountancy and insurance businesses, the company actually celebrates what is a double centenary, explains managing partner Jason Fayers.

He says of the mergers, the most impactful was the one between Suffolk-based Scrutton and Goodchild and Colchester insurance brokers Bland Fielden - also established in 1919.

Jason adds : “Our founding firms were established at the end of the First World War by soldiers returning from the Great War.

“They recognised the need for financial advice and insurance that the years of war had created and set up a service for both business and individuals to meet those needs.

“It is hard to imagine how life was back then, but one thing remains the same today, which is that people still need sound professional advice when it comes to their finances.”

Alfred Scrutton’s grandson, Tean Butcher, still holds the family papers, and says his grandfather is remembered as an entrepreneur who the company when only in his twenties, after spotting a timely business opportunity.

Alfred was one of nine siblings ; two of his brothers had died in the war, and tragically his sister Eva, who was a nurse during the conflict, died in 1919 when the Spanish influenza epidemic swept the country.

A strict Methodist and Freemason, Alfred was teetotal although Tean says “he did lapse a bit in his later years”.

Alfred gave up practicing accountancy in the 1950s, although he continued to look after his favourite clients until well into his retirement.

Scrutton and Goodchild set up offices at the Thoroughfare in Ipswich later moving to larger premises on Museum Street.

In Colchester Frank Bland had founded his insurance company in Crouch Street in June 1919, also identifying a need for such a service.

His father Charles had co-founded Colchester Permanent Building Society in 1877.

In 1926 he bought the Limes, a former school, in Sir Isaac’s Walk and the business moved there, where it stayed until 2007.

The 1930s saw a period of national economic depression, which actually brought an increase in business with new branches opening in London, Frinton, Halstead, Sudbury and Witham.

Like Scrutton and Goodchild, many of the staff at Bland Fielden in Colchester served in the armed services when war broke out again in 1939.

Once the war was over Bland Fielden was forced to build more offices to house the returning forces personnel, including Eric Bland, who came in after the death of his father, Frank.

Eric served as a fighter pilot and was awarded an immediate DSO following a courageous raid on a German U-Boat in October 1943.

Caroline Britton, of Scrutton Bland, explains the company arranged many staff outings including to the 1948 FA cup clash between Colchester Town and Blackpool.

They paid for two coach loads of employees to travel north to the match - only for town to lose 5-0.

Eric retired in the late 1980s and in 1990 Scrutton, Goodchild and Sanderson and Bland Fielden merged to create Scrutton Bland.

Their geographic range now covered Suffolk and north Essex, with branch offices in Ipswich, Colchester, Saxmundham, Diss, Witham and Frinton.

By the mid 2000s, the success of the group meant Scrutton Bland had outgrown both its Colchester and Ipswich offices, and in 2007 it expanded into a new building on Colchester Business Park.

Jason explains it also moved into a three-storey office on Ipswich’s Crown Street five years ago and in 2017 the firm expanded once again, increasing the size of its site in Diss and opening a new office in Cambridge.

Tim Mulley, Senior Partner, thinks the similarities between the business approach today and of 100 years ago could be behind why the firm has enjoyed such longevity.

“Our business is based on trust. Looking after people’s livelihoods, whether that is in business or their personal finances is a huge responsibility and one which we take very seriously.

“We see ourselves very much as part of the community within which our clients live and work, and that means we genuinely want to achieve the best for them. “ Scrutton Bland is keen to hear from anyone with memories of it across the 100 years.

Contact the team at 100years@scruttonbland.co.uk