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MILES, William Henry

Born: 1858
Died: 1894 03 04


His Death Notice records his parents as Henry William and Letitia Miles. Nothing is currently known about Miles's origins and training. He was first recorded in South Africa working as the municipal architect and engineer in Port Elizabeth in 1878, and remained in this post until 1884. He was briefly in partnership with G Dix PEEK in 1879, and executed a number of relatively significant buildings in Port Elizabeth, including the Feathermarket Hall (c1882-) and the first St Cuthbert's Church (1883-1884). In 1889 he applied for the post of Town Engineer and Surveyor, Johannesburg and was successful. He moved to Johannesburg where he also had a private practice (n.d.). Shorten (1965) cites that 'The [Sanitary] Board brought him out from Bournemouth' as the first Town Engineer of Johannesburg. Conditions were deplorable. He set about the removal of building waste and rubble, adding crushed stone to the road surfaces, and the provisioning of a circular, seven-man public urinal replete with dome and lamp. He considered a separate two man contraption 'for the natives' as an additional necessity! He levelled and regularised the street levels and building lines and introduced street name plates. However the Board found his services unsatisfactory and sued him for negligence in 1892, although the case was dropped with him carrying costs. He layed out the first cemetary, but the death rate was so high it soon filled. He too lies buried there, having died at the age of 36 years. [It was originally recorded here that 'He then moved to Kimberley where Morris HARRIS was articled to him apparently until Miles's death, but his Death Notice records his place of death as Johannesburg. The General Directory of South Africa (1899) still listed Miles working in Johannesburg. (This is obviously not the same Miles as he died in 1894, unless Morris was apprenticed away from Johannesburg and the Directory failed to be updated after his death - Eds)]

(Certificate of application for the post of Town Engineer & Land surveyor; General dir SA 1899; see HARRIS, M (Miles's death date); Harradine 1986)

All truncated references not fully cited in 'References' are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

List of projects

With photographs
With notes

Feathermarket Hall: 1885 : 1908. Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth), Eastern Cape - Architect
Henwood's store, new façade: 1892. Johannesburg, Gauteng - Architect
St Cuthbert's Church: 1884 : 1898-1899 : 1932-1933. Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth), Eastern Cape - Architect 1884

Books citing MILES

Greig, Doreen. 1971. A Guide to Architecture in South Africa. Cape Town: Howard Timmins. pp 186

Herholdt, AD. 1994. Eight beautiful Gothic revival churches of Port Elizabeth. Port Elizabeth: Ad Hoc Publishers. pp 157

Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1977. Victorian Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: AA Balkema. pp 181

Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1989. Historical Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: Struikhof Publishers. pp 104

Richardson, Deirdré. 2001. Historic Sites of South Africa. Cape Town: Struik Publishers. pp 37

Shorten, John R; Johannesburg City Council. 1970. The Johannesburg saga. Johannesburg: John R Shorten. pp 568-569

Trehaeven, Rosemary. 1984. Saint Cuthbert's, Port Elizabeth : 1884-1984. Port Elizabeth: St Cuthberts. pp