One in a long list of Brentford's Upstanding Citizens
In the era when Brentford was a stand alone town running its own affairs there were a number of hard working, interesting men whose names you can see on the foundation stones of the older buildings around the town.
One of these was Charles Henry Curtis who was elected a Councillor to the Brentford Urban District Council after the First World War when he stood for the Brentford Allotments Association.
He had served as a Special Constable during the War, had a degree in botany and worked in gardens at Wimbledon, Chelsea and Kew in his youth. Later he became a horticultural journalist, was editor of the Gardener’s Chronicle and Orchid Review, a Fellow of the Royal Horticultural Society and the Linnean Society and was awarded the Victoria Medal of Honour by the RHS.
He wrote books about topiary, sweet peas, cultivating annuals and quite a number about orchids. Several of these are still available on the internet. In 1950 the local paper when reporting the award of his MBE said that he had presented his latest book (Orchids: Their Description and Cultivation) to Brentford Library but unfortunately it’s not on their database now.
He was vice chairman of the UDC in the 1920s when the photograph was taken. He served as Chairman for one year and was elected Mayor of the combined Borough of Brentford and Chiswick in 1933 becoming Deputy Mayor the following year. In 1935 he was appointed a Justice of the Peace.
That year he also celebrated 50 years as Superintendent of the Sunday School at the Methodist Church and put on a display of plants and flowers at the annual horticultural show.
A special plant in his display was one he’d grown from a seed given him by Kew Gardens of an extremely rare mettasequoia. This sequoia/redwood had then only recently been discovered by botanists in China and was thought then not to have been seen since the time of the dinosaurs!
Charles Henry Curtis died in 1958 aged 88 at his home in Somerset Road and I suspect that the sequoia had been planted out in his garden.
October 18, 2012