Our History

We are proud to have a nearly 100-year history, and although the practice has naturally evolved since its inception (and changed names a few time!), patient care and excellence has always been at the heart


Mr Angus starts his ophthalmic practice in the cinque port town Rye in Sussex. In the late 1920s he makes the decision to move the practice to the centre of the growing market town Ashford, and it occupies a building on the lower end of Bank Street.



Mr Angus decides to move abroad to Africa and sells the practice to Mr William Oxford, who continued to work in the practice until the late 1960s.

W. A. Oxford, a former name for Brownbills, at our old premises in Bank Street, Ashford. Photo courtesy of (c) Steve Salter.



Local husband and wife team, Gordon and Connie Brownbill take on ownership of the practice. They are still remembered fondly by many of our patients.



In 1994, after working as an optometrist with Mr Brownbill for several years, Dr Huw Pinney and his wife Helen take over the practice and rename it from ‘G.D.Brownbill’ to ‘Brownbills’.



Due to the growth and success of the practice, in December 2008, Brownbills Optometrists moves into new premises, Cecil House on Norwood Street.



For the first time in the practice's history, in March 2020, the team are forced to shut the doors to patients with the outbreak of the Covid pandemic. However, they were soon back in, continuing to prioritise their patients and ensuring their eye health was looked after during this unprecedented time.


About Cecil House

In December 2008, Brownbills Optometrists moved from Bank Street to Cecil House on Norwood Street, a 19th Century detached house

It is known that the building was originally 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 but can still be used by patients and the public whilst the practice is open.

Since then, the property has also been home to various businesses and institutions over the years including a registry office (some of our current patients got married in what is now our reception area), the water board offices, coal board offices, an accountants and a solicitors. It is also very possible that another family occupied the house at some stage during these years!


Previous occupants of Cecil House, Alpine Double Glazing. Photo courtesy of (c) Steve Salter.

The property as it stands today is believed to have been built in four 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 addition is the first cavity wall built in Ashford. The third addition is the dispensing area and upstairs offices which were added in the 1960s as a flat roof extension.

Lastly, during Brownbills’ occupancy we have carried out further building work, focusing on accessibility issues for the disabled. This now means that our two primary consultation rooms, diagnostic suites and dispensary are all located on the ground floor along with a disabled toilet facility (for which we were awarded a GOLD award from the Ashford Access Group).