A FORMER Colchester mayor has been remembered for his political integrity and being a member of one of the town’s most notable farming families.

Alderman Roger Browning died, aged 96, leaving behind his wife of nearly 70 years, Rosemary, two children and four grandchildren.

His son Richard, who manages Tey Brook Farm, said: “He was the most wonderful husband, father and grandfather who would go out of his way to help anyone in need.

“He had old-fashioned values of loyalty, friendliness and compassion, and was a master at quietly giving out good principles by the manner in which he led his life.”

A distinguished career with the Royal Engineers saw him posted to India and Burma during the 1940s where he was twice mentioned in dispatches.

This led to him joining the Royal Indian Engineers, the Forward Airfields 14th Army, and being attached to the 17th Indian Division and 5th Indian Division during the Burma campaign.

They were demobilised in 1946 when Mr Browning returned to civilian life at W&C French public works contractors, which established a depot in Dedham.

In 1950, he joined his father farming at Tey Brook and continued to farm in partnership, now doing so with Richard.

As the eldest son of Robert and Mabel Browning, he became the third generation to own Tey Brook Farm, where he was born in July 1921.

He was an early pioneer of farm diversification.

Richard said: “Dad began diversifying into other enterprises in 1978 by letting out the redundant cold store at Fox and Pheasants’ Farm, White Colne, to Baughan’s of Braintree, and later continued to develop the Business Centre at Tey Brook.

“He was also a firm believer in giving back to the community in terms of his time and experience, hence his long spells on Great Tey Parish Council, Colchester Council and Great Tey Primary School’s board of managers between 1960 and 1990.

“He was also chairman of the board for three years.”

Mr Browning’s political career began 15 years after he partnered with his father at the farm.

In 1966 he was elected to Lexden and Winstree Rural District Council following his mother’s 20 years service.

Also an author, he shared his life in the memoir Great Tey to Rangoon - A Farmer’s Story, which is available to buy on Amazon.

In it he wrote his unopposed acceptance onto the council was either in recognition of his mother’s years of service or that “the electorate felt it was better the devil that they knew than one they did not”.

He was elected to Colchester Council in 1974, serving as mayor for one year in 1981. He then retired from the council in May 1990.

The funeral is at St Barnabas Church, Great Tey, on May 22 at 3pm.



Taken in July 1980 in High Street, Colchester


COLCHESTER High Steward Sir Bob Russell has paid tribute to a political rival but respected friend.

Sir Bob served on the borough council with Mr Browning for many years, describing him as “one of nature’s true gentleman”.

He said: “He was someone who not only represented the people of Great Tey with great distinction, but also his country as an Army officer in the brutal Burma campaign during the Second World War.”

Although Sir Bob and Mr Browning were in opposing parties, he had considerable respect for the Conservative farmer, who he recalled took a deep interest in planning and Colchester’s rich heritage, and was keen on promoting quality architectural design.

He said: “Roger Browning had an impish grin and a quiet chuckle. People listened when he spoke because they knew he was someone who combined passion with realism.

“He and Rosemary had a fantastic mayoral year.

"It was a pleasure to have known him, and been partners in the new borough council which was created in 1974 with the merger of the town and villages.”


FELLOW honorary alderman Mary Fairhead remembers the colleague whose character she admired.

Mr Browning was a “lifelong friend” of Mary’s late husband Richard Fairhead, who died in 1994.

Given the Brownings and the Fairheads were two major farming families, the men had known each other since they were young boys.

Mr Browning was an ex-pupil at the Friends’ School in Saffron Walden from 1931 to 1938.

Mary served with him on Colchester Council since she joined in 1976.
The former planning committee councillor said: “I’m very sad he’s gone.

“He was an extremely nice gentleman, something there’s not very much of nowadays.”

Even after Mary left the council in 2002, she and Mr Browning would see one another as alderman colleagues.

She said: “Roger was a highly principled and kind man. 

“He was chairman of the planning committee for some time and did that very well, being very fair to all of us councillors.”