A PLAQUE commemorating the life of a pharmacist, botanist and former mayor of Oxford was unveiled in the city centre.

The event on Saturday - which included the unveiling of George Claridge Druce's plaque followed and a brief talk in the Lord Mayor's parlour at Oxford Town Hall - was attended by a variety of local dignitaries.

Mr Druce's plaque is located at 118 High Street where Mr Druce set up his chemist's shop in 1879.

Robert Evans, chairman of the Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board, said he had long sought a plaque for Mr Druce.

Speaking to a crowd gathered for the unveiling, Mr Evans said: "When I joined the blue plaque scheme six years I looked down the list of those already honoured and wondered if there was some sort of conspicuous absence.

"Druce was an obvious one to me - and one that was very important.

"It has been a long haul with Druce."

Mr Druce was born in Northamptonshire in May, 1850.

At the age of 16 he began an apprenticeship with Philadelphus Jeyes & Co, a pharmaceutical company in Northampton.

Mr Druce was not able to progress as far as he wanted to in his role and so moved to Oxford where he opened his own shop, Druce & Co, in 1879.

Though a pharmacist by trade, his real passion lay in botany.

He helped to found the Oxfordshire (now Ashmolean) Natural History Society in 1880 and published Flora of Oxfordshire in 1886, which was followed by other books.

He created a herbarium comprising 200,000 different species. He presented herbaria to Oxford University and catalogued existing collections. He was made the honorary fielding curator and receiving an honorary MA.

Mr Druce worked with friend Charles Rothschild to found the Society for the Promotion of Nature Reserves, the predecessor of today's The Wildlife Trusts. He negotiated the purchase of Cothill Fen near Abingdon in 1903.

In 1927 he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1927, a remarkable achievement for an amateur botanist.

He also spent time in politics, serving as a liberal on Oxford City Council in the late 19th century.

Mr Druce served the council as sheriff. At the turn of the century he was mayor of Oxford.

He went on to serve as an alderman.

Mr Druce died in 1932.