Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol II (1901).djvu/279

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Galton
Galton
267

structures a commission created in consequence of the breakdown of the railway bridge over the river Dee. The test experiments on the strength of iron which he made were of great practical utility, and the report which he wrote tbereon forms an important text-book for reference. In 1854 he was appointed secretary to the railway department of the board of trade, and in 1856 visited the United States of North America with Robert Lowe (afterwards Lord Sherbrooke) [q. v.] to inspect the railways of that country. He subsequently wrote an interesting report, published as a blue-book in 1857, on the rapid development of railways in the absence of roads in that progressing country.

In 1857, in conjunction with two civil engineers, Messrs. Simpson and Blackwell, Galton was appointed a government referee for the consideration of plans for the main drainage of the metropolis. He was opposed to the discharge of the effluent into the Thames so high up as Barking and Crossness, and advocated its discharge at Sea Reach, where it would mix with a larger body of water. His views have been justified by results. The report of the referees was published in July 1857.

In 1858 Galton was a member of the royal commission, presided over by Sidney Herbert (afterwards Lord Herbert of Lea) [q. v.], on the improvement of the sanitary condition of military barracks and hospitals. The report of the commission was presented in 1861. Submarine telegraphy also engaged Galton's attention and study, and, after the failure of the Atlantic cable of 1858, the government appointed him in 1859 chairman of a committee to investigate the whole question of electric submarine telegraph cables. The committee collected evidence and information from every available source, and published a report in 1861 which has been described as 'the most valuable collection of facts, warnings, and evidence ever compiled concerning submarine cables.'

In January 1860 Galton returned to : military duties and was appointed temporary assistant inspector-general of fortifications, for barracks, at the war office, and about the same time he was a member of the royal commissions on the embankment of the river Thames, both on the north and south sides.

He accompanied Dr. John Sutherland in 1861 on a mission from the war office to inquire into the sanitary condition of the military hospitals and barracks at Gibraltar, Malta, and the Ionian Islands. Their report was presented to parliament in 1863. In May 1862 Lord Palmerston made him assistant permanent under-secretary of state for war, a position he occupied for nearly eight years, and on 2 July he was placed upon the permanent half-pay list of the army. In 1862 also he became a member of the barrack and hospital improvement committee, a standing committee under the quartermaster-general to the forces for the time being, which in 1865 was renamed the army sanitary committee. It still exists and its recommendations have been and are of the greatest utility. Galton continued to serve on it until his death.

Galton's work at the war office did not prevent him continuing to interest himself in railway matters. In 1862, at the Institution of Civil Engineers (of which he had been an associate since 1850), he read a paper on railway accidents, and showed the bearing of existing legislation on such accidents. In 1865 he was a member of the committee to advise on all questions connected with the laying of the Atlantic telegraph cable, and was also a member of the international telegraph commission held in March at Paris. For his services he was made a companion of the order of the Bath, civil division, in 1865. In the following year he was an active member of the royal commission on railways, of which the Duke of Devonshire was chairman.

In December 1869 Galton was transferred from the war office to the office of works as director of public works and buildings, from which position he retired in August 1875 on a pension. In 1876 he acted as judge of railway appliances at the exhibition held at Philadelphia in the United States of North America, and in 1878 in a similar capacity at the Paris international exhibition. During 1878 and 1879 he brought before the Institution of Mechanical Engineers the results of his experiments with railway brakes in a series of papers which have become works of reference on the subject.

Galton joined the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1860, and from 1871 to 1895, as one of the general secretaries, he bore a large share of the association's work and only resigned the secretaryship in 1895 on election at Ipswich to the presidency. Having previously visited the Reichsanstalt (physical laboratory) at Berlin, he used the opportunity afforded him by his position as president of the British Association to bring to a crisis the efforts which he and others had made during a course of years, and to insist on an organised project for a national physical laboratory in London. With persevering energy he carried on negotiations with the