Their names appear beneath each figure, although the one on the right is hard to make out. If you can’t be bothered to enlarge the image, I can tell you that these fine ladies are Thrift and Industry.
These aren’t qualities that you’d necessarily expect from a four star hotel that charges £160 plus for an overnight stay, certainly not thrift, but then it inherited these virtues.
The building began life in the 1890s as the home the Refuge Assurance Company. The terracotta building has been a fixture of the city ever since, particularly its clock tower which stands out on the skyline.
It was designed by the eminent Victorian architect Alfred Waterhouse and within ten years of its opening in 1895, the company had outgrown it and he was summoned again to add to it, including the clock tower.
The company closed its doors in 1989 and in the 1990s Principal Hotels bought up the properties and turned them into a 252 bedroom hotel and conference centre, taking its name from its proximity to the Palace Theatre.
As for the Refuge Assurance Company, after various mergers it is now part of the Royal London Mutual Assurance Society, but the ladies on its gates are much in demand in these difficult economic times.