Sir Charles Edward Bainbridge Brett, Northern Irish solicitor, journalist, author and founding member, and first chairman, of the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society (UAHS), is born in Holywood, County Down, on October 30, 1928. He is known to many simply as Charlie Brett.
Brett is born into a long line of solicitors, the family firm being L’Estrange and Brett, based in Belfast. He is a partner there from 1954 until 1994. He is educated at Rugby School and New College, Oxford, where he is President of the Poetry Society and a friend of Dylan Thomas and attends lectures by Lord Clark.
In 1956, the Earl of Antrim invites Brett to join the Northern Ireland Committee of the National Trust. On finding there are no books written to prepare himself for this, he resolves to write the necessary volumes. In 1957 he becomes the first chairman of the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, founded alongside, amongst others Lady Dunleath. Brett serves as chairman for ten years and then as President from 1979 until his death.
With the National Trust he puts his legal skill to use in order to establish a public footpath along the cliffs of the North Coast of Ulster. He also sits on the board of the Irish Architectural Archive in Dublin.
In 1971, he is appointed to the board of the newly created Northern Ireland Housing Executive. He serves as Chairman for five years from 1979, during which time 50,000 dwellings are built. He is asked to compile a list of historic buildings in Jersey in 1975. In 1986, Brett becomes the first chairman of the International Fund for Ireland, established to encourage investment in Ireland.
Brett is also involved in Northern Irish politics, being chairman of the Northern Ireland Labour Party for a time. In 1981 he receives a CBE, this is followed by a Knighthood in 1990.
Brett dies on December 19, 2005. His church memorial is located along those of his family in the Comber Church of Ireland Parish Church of St. Mary, in Comber, North County Down.