STORIES

Anthony Edwin Bowes Kelly

Anthony Edwin Bowes Kelly

Father of the Railway

Anthony Edwin Bowes Kelly was a wealthy, respectable gentleman and a founding Director of the lucrative Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd (B.H.P). In 1891, Kelly saw an advertisement in his local newspaper from a fellow Irishman, Mr James Crotty, who was seeking an investor for his gold mine at Iron Blow in Tasmania – at a price of 18,000 pounds.

Bowes Kelly travelled to Tasmania to look things over. He arranged to have some ore samples from the mine sent to Broken Hill for analysis. James Crotty had his own samples analysed. But when the two samples were returned, one showed more gold than the other. Had someone tampered with the results? If so, who?

The truth has been lost to time, but the result of the scandal was that James Crotty could not find a single person willing to put eighteen thousand hard earned pounds into his mine. Being an enterprising man, Kelly negotiated the price to a much lower sum, and a now-desperate James Crotty was forced to accept the deal. He signed a contract that put Kelly in charge of the operation. And so, in 1891, the Mt Lyell Mining Company was formed, with Bowes Kelly at the helm.

For Bowes Kelly, the future was not paved with gold, but with copper. Because while the gold reserves at Iron Blow were diminishing, Bowes Kelly had discovered it was in fact the richest copper mine in the entire world.

A furious James Crotty swore revenge, resigned form the company, and began a feud between the two men that would eventually shape the west coast and determine the success or failure of the whole region.

In the meantime, Bowes Bowes Kelly had another problem to solve. The mine was surrendering huge amounts of copper, but with no roads in or out of the wilderness of the west coast, Kelly had no way to transport the copper to market. The solution? A railway.

The challenge of building a railway in this wild terrain was vast. Rugged mountains, deep valleys, rivers, rock and impenetrable forest all stood in the way of success. But Bowes Kelly lived by a motto – ‘Labor Omnia Vincit’. We find a way, or make it.

Teams of surveyors told him it couldn't be done. The railway would need to scale an impossibly steep hill – something trains at the time simply could not do.

Undeterred, Bowes Kelly searched for a way to make his railway a reality. Then one da he received a postcard from Germany that described a rack and pinion mechanism created by a Swiss engineer named Dr Roman Abt.  That discovery would change everything.

Image http://www.mbemalvern.com.au/mhs/anthony-edwin-bowes-kelly/

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