Beyer was a founding member of IMechE and a renowned locomotive engineer. He also co-founded, and was head engineer of, Beyer, Peacock and Company; the firm was a major manufacturer and designer. Beyer designed his locomotives to be aesthetic in appearance, as well as functional, the D. Luiz was exhibited at the 1862 International Exhibition.
Beyer was also a philanthropist, he is still rated as the University of Manchester's single biggest donor. He also founded three churches, with associated schools.