The history of Brownbills goes back to the cinque port of Rye in Sussex where Mr. Angus started his ophthalmic practice before moving it to Ashford in the late 1920s. His chosen site for the new practice was a 1860s building on the newly built Bank Street, in the centre of the market town. The site had previously been occupied by Mr Walter Prebble, a local butcher, along with his wife and three children aged 4-11 and Miss Fanny Bishop, their servant of the time. Despite this occupancy, for some reason the property is missed on the 1901 census but does appear on the 1891 and 1911 censuses.
A few years after moving the practice to its new home, it is thought that Mr. Angus decided to move abroad to Africa (his son however is still a patient of ours today). At this stage the business was sold to Mr. William Oxford who continued to work in the practice until the late 1960s when it was again sold on to Gordon and Connie Brownbill who are still remembered by many of our patients today.
In March 1994 Dr. H Pinney and Mrs. H Pinney bought the practice, renaming it to ‘Brownbills’, and have run it together since. Due to the success and growth since Huw and Helen took over the practice, a decision was made in December 2008 to move the business to a new and more appropriate location on Norwood Street – a street built at a similar time to Bank Street.
The newly found premises was Cecil House, which was in existence in 1891 as a house and home to James Mastertons, a local mechanic, along with his wife Charlotte and daughter Mary as well as a lodger who was a registered general medical called Thomas. At this time, the now staff car park was a family garden which unusually had a public right of way directly across it. This right of way has since been removed.
Since playing the role of a family home in 1891, the property has been home to various businesses and institutions over the years including a registry office, the water board offices, coal board offices, an accountants and a solicitors and it is also possible that another family occupied the house at some stage during these years.
The property as it stands today is believed to have been built in three parts to accommodate the growth needed for the occupying businesses. The earliest section of the building is believed to be one of the consulting rooms and the two downstairs toilets as these are of single brick construction. The second consulting room and reception area are most likely to be the next oldest section and it is thought that this is one of the first cavity wall constructions in Ashford. The latest addition is the dispensing area which was added in the 1960s as a flat roof extension.
The new home of Brownbills is a much better environment for both our patients and staff in many ways and we hope to continue developing the practice over the coming years.