First Lady Mayor of Chester 1938/1939 – Louisa Phyllis Brown

Louisa Phyllis Brown (known as Phyllis) was born in Hough Green, Chester on 31 January 1877 and was the daughter of Charles Humfrey.

Phyllis attended the Queens School, Chester as a girl from 1890 until 1895 and retained a life-long connection and affection for the school. She gained a B.A in 1896 and an M.A in 1902 at London University and also a Teaching Diploma. Phyllis also spent time teaching at Girls Collegiate School, Port Elizabeth in South Africa.

In 1902 she married Harry Faulkner Brown, of the famous Browns of Chester store family. Phyllis spent a short time living in Surrey before returning to Chester 1907, where her husband continued to practice as a Solicitor as well as continuing the family association with the Brown department store.

In 1919 Harry Brown became Mayor of Chester.

In 1920 Phyllis became the first woman to become a member of the Chester City Council and was elected for the St John’s Ward. She became an authority on education, housing and child welfare. Phyllis advocated women’s suffrage and greatly helped the formation of the Chester Women’s Citizens Association and became its first President.

In 1922 Phyllis was appointed a City Magistrate and remained on the supplemental list until she died.

In 1928 Harry & Phyllis purchased over 64 acres of land for the price of £5000 (more than £300,000 today). They purchased this land the following agreement ‘for the land to be forever maintained and preserved as recreation ground for the use of citizens, this land is now known as The Meadows.

Later that year they also purchased a further two plots of land on the meadow, one of which is Barnfield which is where the Boathouse is built on and used by the Queens Park High School Rowing Club and again gifted them both to the City.

Phyllis and other members of her family are gratefully recognised as the 20th century’s most generous benefactors.

During the 1932 By-election she was elected for St Mary’s Ward a Liberal Candidate and remained the sole woman in that party throughout the 1930s.

In 1938, Louisa became the first woman Mayor of Chester and as Mayor she presented many trees to be planted along the river banks. There is a plaque on the wall of the Town Hall, Chester to commemorate this.

1948 saw Harry and Phyllis purchase Bishops Lloyds Palace which is the HQ of the Chester Civic Trust.

In 1955 Phyllis was the first woman to have the Freedom of the City bestowed up on her.

On 7 January 1968, Alderman Brown passed away at her home in Curzon Park – she was 90 years old.