Bridge nears completion at Old Bulli
THE girders of the bridge over the Prince’s Highway, at Old Bulli, were placed in position yesterday.
The girders were lifted into position with a mechanical hoist, and were laid in one movement, within a quarter of an inch of the required position.
When the bridge, which is being erected for the Old Bulli Colliery, is completed, it will be used to run coal trucks from the mine to a marshalling yard east of the Illawarra railway line, from where the trucks can be shunted as required on to the main line.
Another bridge will be erected across the railway line. The girders on this bridge will be placed in position during a week-end, when rail traffic is reduced.
The actual hoisting into position took exactly two and a quarter minutes.The girders are 86 feet long and are of all-steel construction.
The manager of Eastern Constructions Pty. Ltd. (Mr. A. Paterson) was in charge of the laying of the girders, which were fabricated at B. and W. Steel Pty. Ltd. The cement work was carried out by Allied Constructions Pty. Ltd.
When the bridge is completed there will be no further use for the railway line at present used to shift trucks of coal from the mine to the rail head.The line has been in use for many years, even before there was a rail service to the South Coast. It was used to shift coal from the mine to the jetty, now more or less demolished.
Where the line crosses the Princes’ Highway was the site of a dramatic scene in 1887, just prior to the Bulli Colliery explosion on March 23, 1887, when 86 men were killed.Mr. Harry Coltman, of Tarrawanna Lane, Corrimal, one of the few living survivors of the Bulli disaster, recently told a ‘Daily Mercury’ representative a little of the history of that time.
He said the explosion followed a nine months’ strike, and there were few local men in the mine at the time. He said: “They were mostly what was called ‘free’ labour, although the miners called them ‘scabs’. They lived at the mine under police protection.”
He said the ‘free’ labour was brought to Bulli by ship and the miners would picket the high points near Thirroul and Woonona to watch for any ship coming in.
“When a ship was sighted they would signal back to the strikers, who would assemble at the colliery line where it crosses the main road and wait. When the train carrying the ‘free’ labour reached the crossing the strikers would stop the train, get aboard and throw the men’s trunks out- and often throw the men out, too.One day the miners’ wives put their feet across the line and defied the engine driver to travel over them.
“One morning the police sergeant read the Riot Act to us,” he added.
– Illawarra Daily Mercury Tuesday 17 January 1950.