Charles D.H. Braine, son of Reverend G.T. Braine and his wife Mary Dimond Churchwaid, was an associate member of the (British) Institution of Civil Engineers. He worked in Mexico from 1885 to 1893, chiefly in railway construction, but also worked in Jamaica, the United States of America, England and Thailand before joining the Public Works Department of the Cape Colony in April 1898 as assistant engineer in Port Elizabeth. He worked mainly on irrigation and water works and reported, among others, on the irrigation schemes of the Sundays and Kuruman rivers and the proposed masonry dam across the Buffalo River at East London. In 1908 he published an account of a survey and designs for a new water supply for Port Elizabeth. He was engaged for a short time at the Royal Observatory in Cape Town and then, in 1903, on the Mowbray Drainage Works.
In March 1904 Braine was appointed in the Department of Irrigation and Water supply of the Transvaal Colony as a temporary engineer, and as executive engineer from July the same year, spending some time at the White River Irrigation Works in the eastern Transvaal. His main interest was in the development of irrigation in South Africa and he became an authority on the subject. In January 1905 he was appointed secretary to the Intercolonial Irrigation Committee and held numerous meetings among farmers in all parts of the Transvaal Colony during 1906, and in the Orange River Colony during 1907. In 1909 he was stationed in Rustenburg. By 1911 he had moved to the Department of Irrigation in Bloemfontein, and was the engineer for the Upper Orange River District and the Northern Transvaal (now Limpopo Province). That year he presented a great variety of small stone artefacts from various localities on the Orange, Riet and Vaal Rivers to the McGregor Museum in Kimberley. In 1917 he was appointed as engineer in the Irrigation Department of the Union of South Africa. He left government service in 1921 and started a private practice the next year. In 1923 he was engineer for the construction of the Bon Accord Dam, north of Pretoria.
Braine published a number of papers on his work. The first appears to have been his "Reclamation of drift sands in the Cape Colony", dealing with efforts to stabilize the drift sands at Algoa Bay. This paper was presented to the Institution of Civil Engineers in England, but also published in the Agricultural Journal of the Cape of Good Hope (1903, Vol. 23, pp. 161-178). The next year he read a paper on "The possibilities of irrigation in South Africa" before the Cape Society of Civil Engineers, which was published in their Minutes of Proceedings (1904, Vol. 1, pp. 24-29) as well as in the Agricultural Journal. It dealt, among others, with the problems of silting and water quality in dams. In 1905 he delivered a position paper, "Notes on irrigation in South Africa" at the joint meeting of the British and South African Associations for the Advancement of Science in Johannesburg. The paper was included in the Addresses and papers... published after the meeting (Vol. 2, pp. 182-198). At subsequent meetings of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science he spoke on "Farm irrigation in the Transvaal" (1906), the "Influence of forests on natural water supply" (1908, a review of the unwanted effects of deforestation), and "Two methods of farm irrigation" (1910). His contribution on "Co-operative irrigation in Cape Colony" appeared in the Transvaal Agricultural Journal (Vol. 4, pp. 284-288) in 1906, followed by "Dongas: their effects and treatment" (Vol. 4, pp. 531-535).
Braine was awarded the Crampton Prize of the (British) Institution of Civil Engineers in 1902. In the same year he became a foundation member of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science, serving on its council in 1907/8 as one of the members representing Pretoria. In 1903 he became the first honorary secretary and treasurer of the newly founded Cape Society of Civil Engineers, a position he held to July 1904. He remained a member after the society was renamed the South African Society of Civil Engineers in November 1909. Many years later, in 1930/1, he was president of the South African Institution of Engineers.
After the death of his first wife around 1891 he married Norah Mary Conway in Bangkok, Thailand, in 1894, but she died in 1917. He was survived by one child from his first marriage and three from his second.