南京夜网|南京桑拿网|江苏夜网论坛

Powered by Cnjae!

   Apr 21

Gib tunnel supervisor Eli Beer was early Bowral pioneer

BEER FAMILY: Elizabeth and Eli (front right) with several of their children and daughters-in-law. Photo: BDH&FHS UNDER THE GIB: Steam train emerges from the tunnel which was built in the 1860s, supervised by Eli Beer. Photo: BDH&FHS
Nanjing Night Net

Part One of a 3-part series

ELI and Elizabeth Beer came to the district in 1863.

They raised four sons and two daughters at ‘Mount Gibraltar’, a property they purchased in 1866, and were prominent in early local communities at Bowral and Mittagong.

Eli Beer was born in Somerset, England in 1835 and took up the trade of bricklayer.

In early 1854 he married Elizabeth Offord and a son William was born in November that year.

In early 1856 they left England for Australia, sailing on the vessel Robert Small.

Shortly after their arrival, a second son, Henry, was born and a daughter, Emily, in 1858. Being a competent tradesman, Eli soon found employment on the Great Southern Railway’s first stage of construction between Campbelltown and Picton.

This section of the single-line railway opened in 1863 and construction continued southward from Picton in stages, opening through to Mittagong in 1867.

For the line to progress from there to Bowral and beyond, a tunnel under the western slopes of Mount Gibraltar was required.

The firm of Wolf & Humphries undertook the tunnel contract and excavation commenced in 1863.

To supervise the tunnel’s brickwork, a person of experience was required.

The conscientious work of Eli Beer had attracted the attention of his superiors and he was appointed to the task as Government Inspector of Brickwork.

Eli came to the district in early 1863 to take up the position and his wife Elizabeth and their children soon joined him. They stayed at first in Mittagong and then for the following three years in Bowral.

Two more sons were born: Daniel Luther (1863) and Robert (1864) and another daughter, Miriam (1866).

The tunnel where Eli worked was over half a kilometre in length and up to 70 metres below ground level. Excavation occupied more than two years and another year was required to line the tunnel with bricks.

The hundreds of men engaged in these tasks lived nearby in tents.

The tunnel was completed in 1867, ready to take the railway line through to Bowral.

Eli is said to have later referred with pride to the fact that practically no repairs had afterwards been necessary to this complex undertaking.

This tunnel served until 1919 when a new double-line tunnel, excavated alongside, was opened as part of the southern line’s duplication.

The old tunnel was used as a munitions dump during World War Two and is now utilised for edible mushroom cultivation.

Eli and family must have taken a liking to the district for in 1866 he purchased a sizeable acreage which he called ‘Mount Gibraltar’ and had a family home built.

This property was on the western slopes of Mount Gibraltar near the northern entrance of the tunnel. It occupied the area that today slopes down from the Bowral-Mittagong Road to the railway line, as far north as Old Bowral Road.

AT the time, the Fitzroy Iron Mines at Nattai (now Mittagong) were in full swing and Bowral and Moss Vale were just being established in anticipation of the opening of the railway.

Eli and Elizabeth, being staunch Methodists, would soon have felt at home as several other Methodist families moved into the area with the aim of making Bowral a Wesleyan town.

The early business people of Bowral were strongly connected to the church, including the Harrisons who ran the first store, and the Ward and Duprez families.

The Wesleyan cemetery in Burradoo Road is the resting place of many of Bowral’s early pioneers including the Beers.

Moss Vale, which became the major rail centre, was the premier town in terms of commerce by the 1880s, but Bowral became the residential and social heart of the district.

In 1884, two of Eli’s sons, William and Daniel, became joint proprietors of the Bowral Free Press, a weekly newspaper that had started in 1883. It and the Moss Vale Scrutineer were the main two local papers at that time.

The history of the Beer’s involvement with newspapers will be presented in a subsequent series.

Once the tunnel was completed, Eli continued his railway career and was further promoted. He worked on successive sections of the southern line as far as Albury, as well as on the Muswellbrook-Murrurundi section of the great northern railway line.

He also spent a few years in the Queensland railway service.

His working career unexpectedly came to an end in September 1885.

Aged 50, he slipped and fell nearly 20 feet from scaffolding at Woy Woy Tunnel, fracturing several ribs and otherwise injuring himself severely.

He then turned to orcharding.

* To be continued

This article compiled by Phillip Morton is sourced fromthe archives of the Berrima District Historical & Family Society. For more information, phone 4872 2169, [email protected]南京夜网 or visit梧桐夜网berrimadistricthistoricalsociety.org419论坛

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.