Born in London, he was the son of Henry Gardner and Florence Arliss. Educated at St. Dunstan's College and Battersea College of Technology, he was registered as a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
A director of John Summers & Sons from 1913, he subsequently became chairman of the John Lysaght Group He was also deputy-chairman of the Steel Company of Wales, a director of the Consett Iron Company and GKN, and chairman of British Iron and Steel Federation. He later became president of the Iron and Steel Institute.
Changing his name by deed poll on 21 December 1937 to Charles Bruce-Gardner, he was knighted in the 1938 New Year Honours, having the honour conferred on 17 February 1938. He was created 1st Baronet Bruce-Gardner, 'of Frilford, in the County of Berkshire', on 12 February 1945.
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