William Wallace Pettigrew was born at Dumfries House, Ayrshire in 1867, eldest son of Head Gardener, Andrew Pettigrew. He trained at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew from 1888 to 1889. He then worked as a gardener at Dunkeld House, 1889-90, and Culzean Castle, 1890-91, before moving back to Cardiff to take on the role as Cardiff's first Parks Superintendent, working under William Harpur the Borough Engineer.
He worked with William Harpur to create many of Cardiff's finest parks including Roath Park, Victoria Park, Cathays Park, Llandaff Fields, Pontcanna Fields, Waterloo Gardens, Roath Mill Gardens and Roath Brook Gardens.
In 1915 he moved to Manchester Corporation to take on the Chief Parks Officer role and his role in Cardiff was taken over by his youngest brother, Andrew Alexander Pettigrew.
During his working life, he was an ardent supporter of educating young gardeners in the public sector, and was always active in promoting parks and horticulture through lectures and written work. His tireless work led to the award of the Victoria Medal for Horticulture from the RHS in 1927, and he was widely respected by his peers across the UK. He wrote Commonsense Gardening (1925) and Municipal Parks (1937).
William remained in Manchester until his retirement in 1932, when he moved to the Sussex coast, but four years later he was to return to Cardiff to take up his old post on a temporary basis after the sudden death of his brother from cancer in 1936.
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