Truth about the man in the bridge at Murray Bridge

Thursday, November 19, 1874

At about 10am, on November 19, 1874, the safety instructions on the day by Henry Parker, the Superintendent of Works were the same as any other day.

His instructions were – “Piper and Elliott”, “go down to commence sinking, all the water from within the cylinder has been removed, remove about 10 feet of stuff before the cylinder will drop – work in the middle of the cylinder and keep away from the sides as the flanges project about six-inches from the sides of the cylinder.”

The only things to keep the men in the middle of the cylinder were ropes lowered down; they could take hold of these to keep them in the middle.

The cylinders go down approximately 120-feet before hitting granite, the solid foundation for the bridge.

Elliott appeared nervous about the timber on top of the cylinder but was advised it was safe.

The guide used at the bridge for measuring movement, was a straight edge as a fixture – before 2pm it moved about two inches.

It was remarked and the men were warned of movement, but within four minutes the cylinder went down.

Piper shouted, “Jack, she is going” and then “Jack is killed”.

When the cylinder went down it took Elliott with it, only his feet were showing.

It took two and a half hours to get him out, after removing about seven feet of dirt.

Elliott was found with his left shoulder twisted round almost to his back, the flange of the cylinder was on his shoulder, and his right arm was close by his side.

His shirt had been caught by one of the bolts in the cylinder.

The inquest verdict, “That John Elliott came to his death by accident in not using the necessary precautions, as directed by the Superintendent, through being struck by the flange of the cylinder.”

Before working at the town’s Bridge site he had worked for some time in the Wallaroo Mines, then the Bremer Mines at Callington for a short time.

Due to employment at the Bridge site, many miners moved for better pay.

John Elliott, 27-years-old, was buried at the Callington cemetery on November 20,1874, in Plot A.

                                                                                                                             Murray Bridge & District Historical Society Inc.

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