George Giles (1810-1877)
1877 Obituary 
MR. GEORGE GILES was born at Hersham, in Surrey, in 1810.
He received his first instruction in engineering from his uncle, Mr. Francis Giles, M. Inst. C.E., under whom he was engaged in the preliminary survey for the London and Southampton railway, the Act for which was obtained in 1834. When the works were commenced Mr. George Giles was placed as Resident Engineer on the Winchester and Southampton section, and the works of that district were mainly designed and constructed by him. He was then employed on Messrs. McIntosh and Betts's contract at the Rugby end of the Midland railway, more particularly the Rugby bridge, and that portion of the line 4 miles north of it.
In 1839 Mr. Giles became Resident Engineer on the railway from Hamburg to Bergedorf. Just as it was finished, in 1842, the great fire of Hamburg destroyed half the city, and the railway was first used to carry into the country hundreds of poor families left shelterless. Mr. Giles, with two other Englishmen, volunteered to stop the progress of the fire by blowing up houses across its track. The offer was accepted, and when successfully accomplished, he received a vote of thanks from the Senate, with an order and a medal; the latter cast from the metal of bells from the four churches destroyed in the fire. Mr. Giles nearly lost his life from the fury of the mob, who supposed the use of gunpowder was adding fuel to the flames rather than checking them. The following letter from H.B.M.'s Charge d'Affaires, Colonel Hodges, accompanied the vote from the Senate:-
" Hamburg, May 17,1842.
“ I have great satisfaction in transmitting to you a copy of a letter which I have received from the Senate of Hamburg, wherein that venerable body thankfully acknowledges the great services rendered by you during the late calamitous and afflicting fire which partially destroyed this city. Such a testimonial on the part of the Government will, I am sure, prove acceptable to you, and remove from your mind all impressions of a painful nature which the proceedings of a few deluded people on that occasion might have caused. I beg to assure you that it affords me, individually, great pleasure to be the means of conveying to you so deserved a testimonial of your zealous services.
“ I have the honour to be, SIR,
“ Your most obedient humble Servant,
“G. LLOYD HONES.”
Mr. Giles remained in Hamburg until 1846, carrying out Mr. William Lindley’s plans for sewers and supply of water to the town, including the building the water-tower at Rothenburgsort, 256 feet in height. In 1847 he had charge of the execution of works on the Great Northern railway between Gainsborough and Peterborough.
From 1850 to 1856 Mr. Giles was engaged in France, on that portion of the Paris and Marseilles line between St. Rambert and Montelimar. The line was opened some time before it was contracted to be ready, in order that it might be used for the conveyance of the French troops to the Crimea.
In 1856 he was in Austria, on the Kaiserin Elisabeth railway, and constructed the line between Linz and Vienna.
In 1862 Mr. Giles returned to England, and although he ceased active employment, his attention was much given to schemes for railways, which were, however, never carried out. Among them were, lines from Alexandria to Rosetta; one in Croatia, from Fiume through Sissegg and Essegg to Semlin; another connected with Salonica through the Euphrates Valley to the head of Persian Gulf, shortening a route to India. Mr. Giles was noted for the thoroughness of his knowledge in the details of his profession, and his energy and perseverance in working them out practically.
Mr. Giles died at his residence in Bonchurch, Isle of plight, on the 9th of April, 1877, aged sixty-seven He was elected a Member of the Institution on the 30th of June, 1846.