Modernising Chester
Thomas Harrison, John Douglas and Susannah Brown

Red Leaf Flowers

Thomas Harrison moved to Chester in 1795.He is mainly known as a designer of civic buildings in Chester including the courthouse. Harrison’s biggest commission was the Grosvenor Bridge which began in 1827 and was completed after his death. At the time it was the longest bridge in the World.

John Douglas was an architect who in 1899 commissioned the Eastgate clock. He designed over 500 buildings in Chester, Cheshire and North Wales. He contributed to the black and white half-timbered city centre buildings  which are an iconic feature in the City of Chester.

Susannah Brown was ‘the founder’ of Browns of Chester in 1780 . The store was an iconic Chester department store; howeverBrowns was acquired by Debenhams in 1976 and closed in 2021.

In 1926, the Brown family donated the land known as the Meadows, to the people of the city “as a public park, recreation ground, or lands for cricket, football or other games and recreations in perpetuity”. You can access the Meadows for a pleasant walk alongside the River Dee by crossing the Queens Park suspension bridge.

Seeds Green Leaf

Where can you find traces of Harrison, Douglas and Brown in Chester today?

Harrison’s grandest features are the Northgate, the entrance through the walls to the north, the Castle esplanade, with its great arch and the courthouse, and the magnificent Grosvenor Bridge across the River Dee. His home, gifted to him by the city, is now ‘The Architect’ pub, not far from the castle.

John Douglas has a number of beautiful buildings remaining in the city. The closest are in St. Werburgh Street, close to the cathedral. His most famous addition is the Eastgate Clock. 

Sadly Brown’s of Chester is now closed, but if you stand in Eastgate, between the Cross and the famous Clock, look up and you will see the magnificently grand original Brown’s store facade.


HURLEY,P., 2017. Chester in 50 Buildings. Stroud: Amberley Books

DUDMAN,C.,2016. Real Chester. Bridgend: SerenBooks

JONES,P. Unknown. Building Chester.

EMERY, G. 1999. Curious Chester. Manchester: Franklyn Publicity

HURLEY,P., & MORGAN,L., 2010. Chester Through Time. Stroud: Amberley Publishing