Our History

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John Fowlers LLP Solicitors is rich with history. Our story goes right back to the early 1920’s.

The company was founded by John Fowler in Brightlingsea in 1924.

After completing military service in the East and returning to Brightlingsea after the First World War, John Fowler became quite a figure in the local community, becoming Clerk to the Brightlingsea Town Council.

Dedicated, passionate and looking for the next challenge, John continued to take on more roles. He became Clerk to the Harbour Commissioners, the Board of Works, The Electric Company, Gas Company and more.

John qualified as a solicitor before the First World War but it was in 1924 that he opened his own firm of solicitors that was to be the John Fowlers LLP Solicitors we know today. At the time, the firm represented private clients in Brightlingsea and the surrounding area.

John continued to be heavily involved in local business life. He was secretary to the Liberty in Brightlingsea connected with the Cinque Ports and became a stalwart of Masonic Lodges, charities and other organisations.

In the 1930’s John Fowler was joined by a Clerk, Harold Oldman.

Harold had always had an interest in the law but had not been able to afford his qualification to become a solicitor. The Second World War pushed this idea even further away as he joined the Royal Air Force and became a navigator/bomb aimer on heavy bombers.

During his last tour of duty, Harold Oldman was shot down over Berlin and taken to a prisoner of war camp. Surprisingly enough, this led Harold Oldman to achieve his long time goal of becoming a solicitor. It was during his time as a prisoner of war and through the Geneva Red Cross, that Harold was able to study and complete his Law Society exams to become a solicitor.

At the end of the Second World War, Harold Oldman returned to the Channel ports and made his way back to Brightlingsea. He rejoined John Fowlers Solicitors, opening a branch of the firm on Colchester High Street. He also became a partner with John Fowler and for a time the firm was known as “John Fowler, Oldman & Co”. The company continued to grow, introducing another branch in Clacton.

Partners of the past
John Fowler died in the 1950’s and Harold Oldman became the senior partner of the firm.

Harold Oldman was joined by John Fowler’s son, Tony Fowler, and remained the senior partner of the firm until 1980. After Harold Oldman retired, Tony Fowler became senior partner in his place. The Clacton office closed during this time.

Various partners came and went, others such as Colin Dove remained with the firm over many years and became senior partner of the firm following the retirement of Tony Fowler.

Over many years, the firm continued to practice from Colchester and Brightlingsea. Following the retirement of Colin Dove as the firm’s senior partner and his replacement by Kim Kennedy, the firm moved their Head Quarters to Town Hall Chambers in St Runwald Street, Colchester where you can find us today.

John Fowlers Solicitors today
Our headquarters also holds a lot of history with the law. It had once been the offices of Jones & Son Solicitors founded in the late 1800s. Before John Fowlers Solicitors had acquired the building, it had been the Legal Department for Colchester Borough Council.

With the firm’s expansion, additional premises have been taken on at 45/46 East Stockwell Street, Colchester which now houses the firm’s Employment and Administration Departments. 1 West Stockwell Street, Colchester holds the firm’s Family, Criminal and Civil Litigation Departments. However, some 98 years on and the firm still practices from one of it’s very first offices at 12 Victoria Place, Brightlingsea.

Over the last 10 years, the firm has expanded rapidly, opening offices in Clacton and West Mersea. The company stands bigger than it ever has. It has the same ambition and dedication as John Fowler had when he first started the business and we look forward to our future expansion.