In 1854 The Manchester Steam Users Association was formed to help with the prevention of explosions in steam boilers. The Association employed the first boiler inspectors and it shortly became apparent that insurance to cover the high cost of repair or replacement of damaged boilers was desirable. This resulted in the first boiler insurance company, The Steam Boiler Assurance Co., being formed in 1858.
The chief engineer employed by the Steam Boiler Assurance Co. was called Robert Berwick Longridge. In 1878 R. B. Longridge founded his own insurance company at 12 King Street, Manchester, called The Engine & Boiler Insurance Co., and he remained chairman of the business until 1913. In 1880 the company changed its name to The Engine, Boiler & Employers’ Liability Insurance Co. Ltd. In 1895, 43 people died as a result of boiler explosions, increasing the pressure for new legislation. In 1901 the Factories & Workshops Act came into force, making the inspection of boilers obligatory.
In 1904 The Engine, Boiler & Employers’ Liability Insurance Co. merged with The Steam Users’ Insurance Co. and in 1912 the enterprise was acquired by Royal Insurance Co., who renamed it The British Engine, Boiler & Electrical Insurance Co.
In 1919 The British Engine Repair Co. was formed. It became the biggest repair facility of its kind with 16 works throughout the UK. British Engine expanded abroad in the 1930s, with offices set up in Australia, Spain, Holland, Germany, France, Belgium and Norway.
After the Second World War, British Engine expanded into South Africa, India and Canada. In 1959 British Engine’s head office was moved to Longridge House, Manchester.
In 1978 the company changed its name to British Engine Insurance Ltd. At this time it was the largest engineering insurance company in Europe. Following the merger of its parent company, Royal Insurance, with Sun Alliance, British Engine became Royal & Sun Alliance Engineering in 1996.