Dr Charles Sheibner du Riche Preller FRSE FRGS MIEE MICE (1844–1929) was a German-born late 19th/ early 20th century British engineer and amateur geologist. He specialised in electric railways. He was fluent in English, French, German and Italian. He founded the Royal Society of Edinburgh's Bruce-Preller Lecture Prize in memory of his wife. He was Chairman and Chief Engineer of the Limmat Valley Electric Railway Company in Switzerland.
He was born Charles Sheibner in Saxony in 1844 of French descent, but moved to England (Yorkshire) in his youth and was raised there, and was legally a British citizen. He was apprenticed as an engineer in Bradford.
Staying in Germany he was involved in the installation of one of the world's first electric railway systems in the Saxony district from 1872. He stayed in or around Dresden until 1878. In 1879 he began hydro-electric power projects in the Carrara Mountains in Italy. In 1891 he moved to Switzerland working on electric systems in the Zurich and St Gall districts. He was also involved in the electrification of French lighthouses.
In 1892 he changed his name from Sheibner to Du Riche Preller thereafter generally being known as Dr Preller.
He moved to Edinburgh in 1902 and in the same year was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (still under the name of Shreiber). His proposers were Andrew Beatson Bell, William Allan Carter, George Chrystal and John Macdonald, Lord Kingsburgh.
From around 1910 he began to concentrate on his geological interests, especially in the Italian Alps.
In 1914 he dropped the Germanic "Sheibner" from his name, due to anti-German feelings in the First World War.
He died in Edinburgh on 17 February 1929 aged 84. On his death he left funds and instructions regarding creation of the Bruce-Peller Lectures which began in 1931.
In 1879 he was married to Rachel Steuart Bruce, daughter of Thomas Bruce of Langlee, a friend of Sir Walter Scott.
The biennial lecture is usually (but not exclusively) given by a Fellow of the Royal Society of London or Royal Society of Edinburgh. The lectures are given in a cycle: Earth Sciences: Engineering Sciences; Medical Sciences and Biological Sciences.
There was no lecture in 1989 or 1991 and the rhythm of the lectures changed due to a five year gap.
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