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Proudlock, Robert Louis


Proudlock, Robert Louis a landscape gardener, keeper of the tropical house of Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London and designer of Ramna Green, Dhaka. Proudlock was born on 10 November 1862 at Hepcot, a small town of North England. After completing his school education he took a job in a local nursery and earned some experience in breeding and raising flowering plants. But his quest for knowledge dragged him to Edinburgh Royal Botanic Gardens where he managed a part-time job and started attending evening classes in plant science and horticulture.

In 1886 Proudlock joined Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew as an apprentice and later was promoted to the post of assistant foreman in the tropical plant breeding section. He came to India in 1889 and joined Royal Botanical Gardens, Calcutta, first as an assistant curator and later became the curator of the garden in 1911. He had the chance to work with noted botanists like George King and David Prain. He took part in many botanical expeditions and collected a large number of specimens for herbarium. Two orchids, he collected, were found to be new species and were named after him: Oberonia proudlockii and Bulbophyllum prodlockii.

Proudlock, during his stay in India worked in several experimental gardens for cultivation of spices, medicinal and economic plants in the temperate regions of the country. In 1908 he was sent to Rangoon, capital of Burma (now Myanmar), to landscape the city. After his return in 1909 he was appointed adviser to the government of East Bengal-Assam and was assigned the task of landscaping Ramna area, the seat of the capital of the newly formed province. Ramna still retains some of the beautiful avenues (Hare Road, Minto road etc) he planted. In 1918 he retired and went back to England where he continued botanical works, joined expeditions and collected specimens for herbaria. His strong nostalgia for India brought him back to this country several times and possibly he visited Dhaka once again. Besides his botanical works he had a strong hobby and that was to invent a trap to catch mosquitoes for which he spent much of his time and energy. Many years have passed since he left but Proudlock is still remembered. Recently in a signboard hoisted at the eastern gate of Ramna Park, 'Udayachal' depicting the history of the park, Proudlock's name is mentioned with reverence. [Dwijen Sarma]