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Edward Miller Gard Eddy

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1897.

Edward Miller Gard Eddy (1851-1897) - Railway Man.

1888 Chief Commissioner for New South Wales Railways.

1897 Died after a month of illness. His body was interred to Waverley cemetery, Sydney.


1897 Obituary [1]

EDWARD MILLER GARD EDDY, who died at Brisbane on the 21st June, 1897, was the Chief Commissioner of Railways for New South Wales and one of the most distinguished Colonial railway officials.

Born on the 24th July, 1851, he entered the service of the London and North Western Railway Company in May, 1865, at fourteen years of age. After eight months as a junior in the Audit Department at Euston Station he was removed as a clerk to the office of Mr. G. P. Neele, the Superintendent of the line, under whom he acquired the groundwork of his railway knowledge, both in the indoor and outdoor departments.

Always anxious to advance, he exhibited an energy and smartness which soon caused him to be selected as one of the corps of cadets whom the late Chairman of the line (Sir Richard Moon) desired constantly to recruit as the school for rising railway men, ready to act as assistants to the older officers and capable of occupying their positions in case of death or removal. Attached in this way to Mr. Neele’s office, he obtained a thorough insight into the intricate working of the various divisions of the North Western line, and his suggestions were often found of the greatest value.

In April, 1875, Mr. Eddy was removed from London to Chester, and became assistant to Mr. Binger, Superintendent of the Chester and Holyhead division. For three years he occupied that position, when, a vacancy having arisen in the southern division of the line, he was appointed to the responsible post of District Superintendent at Euston, having control of the line between Stafford via the Trent Valley and Rugby, including Leicester, Northampton, Oxford, Cambridge, Bedford, Aylesbury and the whole of the suburban lines of the company in the Metropolis. His capability for work and organization became increasingly apparent during the eight years he filled this position, and the efficiency of the train service and discipline in the district were highly appreciated alike by the public and the Directors.

In April, 1885, Mr. Eddy was advanced to the position of Assistant Superintendent of the line, thus again entering the office of his old friend and chief, Mr. Neele. He now had the opportunity to put all his vigour into the train working of the entire London and North Western system, and both the goods train and the passenger-express services were the subject of his constant watchfulness and beneficial remodelling.

The energy displayed in connection with the through trains between England and Scotland brought him under the notice of the Caledonian Railway officials, and when, through the illness of the General Manager of that Company, it became necessary to have an Assistant Manager, Mr. Eddy was selected to fill the post, and he accordingly, in April, 1887, left the London and North Western and joined the Caledonian Company. His grasp of railway working and vigour in administration soon found full scope for activity in Scotland, and without loss of time he commenced to put in force north of Carlisle the economies and changes he had seen in beneficial operation south of the border.

Mr. Eddy’s service with the Caledonian Company was not of long duration. In July, 1888, the Government of New South Wales applied to Sir George Findlay, then the General Manager of the London and North Western Railway, to aid in the selection of an officer suitable for the position of Chief Commissioner of Railways at Sydney. Sir George had no hesitation as to his recommendation, and in August, 1888, Mr. Eddy left England to occupy the distinguished post of Chief Commissioner of Railways for New South Wales. Before leaving he had fully posted himself in the history of railways in Australia, the abuses which had existed in Sydney, and the political discussions which had led to the determination to keep the railway administration free from political bias; and he wisely resolved to keep himself clear from the slightest suspicion of partizanship, and to make his sole aim the efficient carrying out of the duties of the Railway Commission for the benefit of the traders and community of the colony.

After explanatory conferences with the authorities he obtained permission to enlist the services of some trustworthy officials from England to take charge of some of the most important departments, and he then set to work to combat the difficulties surrounding him. He found all the departments in a grave state of disorganization. Mr. Eddy, however, was not the man to be daunted by the prospect. He found among the Commissioners comrades who thoroughly supported him when they saw his masterful capabilities. Having ascertained the necessity for obtaining new rolling stock on an extensive scale, he made numerous experiments to decide upon the most suitable class of locomotives for the nature of the traffic and the gradients of the lines. He weeded out inefficient men, rearranged the hours of working, raised the pay of the deserving, and rapidly applied to all lines the most approved methods of signalling.

Such changes could not be carried out without giving rise to much opposition. Charges of nepotism, favoritism, personal interest in contracts, were freely made. They were soon found to be false, however one apology after another had to be made, and at length Mr. Eddy silenced all opponents.

The reports submitted annually to the Parliament of New South Wales by the Railway Commission showed a constantly increasing receipt per mile for the train earning, and a constantly decreasing cost of working; as well as recording instances of the careful adjustment of rates for the benefit of traders-results in all departments were shown by means of tabulated coloured diagrams in addition to the columns of figures, and these pages gave an increased interest to the Commissioners’ Annual Reports. Improved train services, improved rolling stock, the introduction of sleeping saloons on the night trains, and a general smartening of the service gave evidence of Mr. Eddy’s energy, and the business men of Sydney and the colony felt that in him they had a reliable and valuable officer, who not only understood the requirements of the public but was able to give effect to them in the working of both the tramways and the railways.

In 1895 Mr. Eddy was granted leave of absence for twelve months, in order that he might attend the International Railway Congress, which was held in London in July of that year. In the previous year, probably annoyed by the unceasing attacks of the labour party, he had listened to the requests of some English friends to allow himself to be put forward for the office of Chairman of the South Eastern Railway. The proposal, however, proved abortive, and, while staying in England for the Congress, he arranged with the authorities in Sydney for a renewal of his term of office as Chief Commissioner of Railways.

His return to Sydney was warmly welcomed by the whole of the commercial interests of the colony, and the energy of his active supervision was again evidenced by the continued success of the Railway Department, now becoming a valuable contributing element to the Colonial Treasury. The question of adopting a uniform gauge throughout the whole of Australia, or at least as between New South Wales with Queensland on the north and Victoria in the south, was a subject on which he had bestowed much thought; and, had he lived, in all probability some mode of meeting the difficulty for main-line through traffic, as a commencement, would have been achieved.

In the last year or two improvements in the lines by adopting deviations to reduce gradients, and by flattening many severe curves, occupied much of his attention, the record of each year’s work being very clearly shown in plans attached to the reports.

Mr. Eddy’s residence was at Colebrook, Double Bay, in the immediate neighbourhood of Sydney. He was a man of powerful frame, and upwards of 6 feet 2 inches in height, his robust presence and large flowing black beard forming a striking figure at railway gatherings.

The public funeral of Mr. Eddy at Sydney is reported to have furnished the largest demonstration of a similar character ever seen in that city, and the presence of three thousand railway men following the procession to the cemetery formed a well-deserved tribute to his memory.

Mr. Eddy was elected an Associate on the 4th December, 1888.


1897 Obituary [2]



1897 Obituary [3][4]

A BRIEF telegram from Brisbane brings the sad news of the death of Mr. Edward Miller Gard Eddy, the Chief Railway Commissioner for New South Wales, at Brisbane on the 21st inst., in the very prime of manhood. It seems he had gone to Brisbane, suffering from lumbago and gout; that the gout made a sudden attack upon the heart, and a fatal issue resulted. It is only nine years since Mr. Eddy went to New South Wales, and to him they have been years of storm and stress, consequent on the vigorous war he waged against the pernicious political influence exerted by labour and socialist organisations.

The whole story need not be repeated - frequent references have been made to it in ENGINEERING - but it is the part of his life which entitles him to be ranked as one of our leading railway organisers, and must therefore bulk largest in any notice of his life's work. His period of early work first on the London and North-Western, and subsequently as assistant general manager of the Caledonian company-were years, so to speak, of probationary training for the difficult task in the colony. He had, however, shown such tact and administrative skill that when the New South Wales Government awakened to the fact that the tricks of politics must be ended-that the prosperity of the colony made the appointment of a railway commissioner imperative: Major Marindin, of the Board of Trade, to whom the matter had been referred, had no hesitation in nominating Mr. Eddy for the situation. Moreover, although it was only intended originally to give a salary of 2500l. per annum, Mr. Eddy received 3000l. - none too large a sum, for under the Minister of Public Works, who was at the mercy of the man in the street, the railway system had got into a lamentable state of inefficiency. As the chief aim in appointing a commissioner new to the colony was to overcome the almost irresistible pressure of the labour vote as a dominant factor in the running of the railway system, and which was more or less a~en to commercial conditions, Mr. Eddy, as chief of three commissioners succeeded the Minister of Public Works, of necessity had great power given him, and this he utilised most admirably. It was only in the natural order of things that he should meet with opposition, but this only served to establish the rectitude of his administration. We recall the investigation carried out at Mr. Eddy's instigation into charges made by a Mr. Schey, a labour leader, with a vehemence in inverse ratio to their accuracy as to an alleged locomotive ring, and the vindication - resulting in a remarkable expression of public feeling in the form of an address signed by 20,000 inhabitants which was subsequently presented to Mr. Eddy; but some facts as to results tell still more eloquently of success. A permanent gain, estimated at some 100,000/. per annum has been realised by flattening the gradients and increasing the tractive power of the locomotives, whereby the train. mileage has been reduced, some of the locomotives being equal to taking 350 tons up a 1 in 40 gradient and 750 tons up a 1 in 150 gradient.

This move gave an increase in the gross receipts of l s. 4d., from 6s. 6fd. to 7s. 10!d. per train-mile, while the net earnings per mile are l s. more than they used to be. Another reform was the introduction of cars in which the paying load bore a much larger ratio than formerly to the tare. These are only typical of many improvements, while the working men have been more liberally treated, and railway rates reduced. Indeed, there has been a remission of nearly 300,000l. per annum* in rates, even assuming the volume of traffic to continue on the old scale. The rates for grain and flour, for instance, have, since Mr. Eddy's appointment, been reduced from 1.03d. to 0.53d. per ton-mile. But notwithstanding the decreased rates- perhaps it would be more accurate to say rather because of them- a profit of nearly three millions has been earned. In other words, instead of a loss the railways now earn 3 1/2 per cent. on their capital, while at the same time they are worked to give the greatest and cheapest facilities for the transit of all products. The tramways, too, have gained by reform; but it is not necessary to say more. The rehabilitation of the Now South Wales Railway on a sound financial basis was a good life's work.

Mr. Eddy's appointment, made in July, 1888, was for a period of seven years, and at the end of that time he had practically offered to him the general managership of the South-Eastern Railway Company - a lucrative post with the minimum of worry, a position, too, in which he would have done most useful service; but it was felt in the colony that the change would involve a great loss to New South Wales. Consequently they offered their railway commissioner 4000l. per annum to continue. Mr. Eddy reluctantly accepted, and about that time visited Britain, primarily to attend the International Railway Congress, and returned with renewed vigour. It is only the other day that we had his latest quarterly report, which showed that the expenses were only 54.4 7 per cent. of the receipts. When one recalls that they were 67 per cent. before Mr. Eddy's advent at Sydney, without any reference to increased revenue per mile, one realises in part what he has done during his sojourn in the colony, now cut short in such an untimely way."


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1897 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries
  2. The Engineer 1897/08/13
  3. Engineering 1897/06/25
  4. Engineering 1897 Jan-Jun: Index: General Index