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Browns of Chester.

A pop-up display in the heart of Chester Market will offer the chance to experience the iconic Browns department store once again and contribute to a growing archive celebrating its impact in more than two centuries of trading.

On Friday August 20, between 12 noon and 7pm, staff from Cheshire Archives, Cheshire West and Chester Museums and the University of Chester will present some of the objects, photos and documents they hold from the store. 

Members of the public are encouraged to come along and view these treasures, as well as share their own memories of, and personal items from, Browns of Chester.

Dr Rebecca Andrew, Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Chester said: “The closure of Browns department store in May 2021 marked the end of 230 years of continuous trading from within this Grade I listed building on Eastgate Street.

“Founded in 1780 by Susannah Brown, the department store was a pillar of Chester’s commercial and cultural life. Its status and brand were such that when Debenhams took it over in 1976, it was the only shop in the chain which traded under its original name.

“We want to ensure its significance in the City’s history and in so many people’s lives is captured - and look forward to gathering more artefacts, memories, accounts and further thoughts on honouring its legacy.” 

Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, Councillor Louise Gittins said: “Browns is much more than a store brand or a beautiful building - it holds deep emotional importance for people in Chester and beyond.

“For many it was the place where they went with family to buy clothes for special occasions, or where they worked as part of a tight-knit team, or a site where friendships were forged while ambling or window shopping. From everyday moments to once-in-a-lifetime events, Browns looms large in the memories of our City’s residents and visitors.

“This pop-up display marks the first step in a project to collect public memories of the store, and the team behind it want your help to build a collection which shows future generations just how important it was to people locally.”

A scanner will be on-site if anyone would like to share a photo taken in or by the store, and the Grosvenor Museum will be accepting items associated with Browns for future public displays. Visitors can also write down memories of the store and offer input on how they feel the legacy of Browns can be publicly remembered.

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