Once a mining town with a population of 500. There is little left today but a few mining relics and an empty space where the hotel once stood.
The Australian Newspaper reported in February 2013 that the Agnew mine was still performing well. The South African
based company that operates Agnew mine (Gold Fields) reported production at 160,000 ounces per year.
Open pit and underground mining are carried on at the sites being mined.
We were very sad to hear that the hotel, seen in the picture above, was demolished by Leonora Shire in mid 2018.
The shire was given the hotel by its former owners but the shire decided it was too remote and too expensive to maintain.
Another piece of history has been destroyed and lost forever thanks to bureaucrats with no imagination.
Some of the fixtures and fittings will be used in the historic Gwalia settlement but that does nothing to replace the loss of
a unique piece of goldfields history.
The hotel was originally created by combining two local shops and a post office. It ceased operating in 2013.
With the demolition of the pub, there is very little left at Agnew to attract visitors to the site.
Located in the Goldfields 22km south west of Leinster the town site was gazetted in 1936 and named after John Agnew
who ran a local mining company. (Bewick, Moreing and Co.)
A post office operated at the Emu Mine and on the night of July 22nd 1937 a robbery took place netting the thief or
thieves 250 pounds. The odd thing about the robbery was that whoever removed the money from the safe locked it again afterward.
Charles Farranda and Alberto Barnardi found gold north of the town in 1947 and at the time it was regarded as a
Water has always been in short supply in these inland areas and in May 1947 the town's water supply failed when the wind
refused to blow for 6 days and the wind-powered bore pump could not bring water to the surface. The residents of the town
were so angry that they refused to pay their water rates.
This was reported in the West Australian Newspaper as follows:
"The water supply position here is intolerable," the secretary of the Agnew Water Board (Mr. Jack Scott) said today.
"The town supply tank is empty. If we do not get a heavy wind tonight the town will have to get water from the mine
tomorrow. The mine can supply us with water for drinking purposes only, as it has barely enough for its own needs."
Mr. Scott said that the Under Secretary for Water Supply had informed them that the department was prepared to install
an engine and shed at the bore to ensure a constant flow of water without having to depend on the wind. That had been
six weeks ago, but to date no one in Agnew has heard anything further about the department's proposal. In addition the
Under-Secretary had said that Mr. G. Hammond, chief engineer, would visit Agnew shortly to investigate the position, but
the board had no information concerning the date of his arrival. Referring to the decision of Agnew residents to strike
against the payment of rates, a decision made in the middle of May, Mr. Scott said he had not collected one penny in
rates since the strike be came effective on June 1. Residents appeared firm in their intention to maintain the strike.
The Emu mine closed in 1948 and the following year the Agnew mine closed. The town's population plummeted from 150 to
just 25. As with many mines on the goldfields the Agnew and Emu mines have opened and closed a number of times as the
price of gold fluctuated and the methods for recovering gold improved.
A mystery hangs over the town relating to a cave-in down one of the mines. A roof collapse on new years day 1977
claimed the lives of five people but some sources say up to 13 people were killed. (Source Australian Newspaper.)
Another disaster claimed six lives when the Emu mine flooded in 1989. In 2012 three men were severely injured in a
rock wall collapse underground and two RFDS aeroplanes were used to transport the injured men to hospital in Perth.
The mine produced 204,000 ounces of gold in 2008 and 192,000 in 2009. This was obtained from processing 1.32 million
tons of ore and 1.07 million tons respectively. Despite the drop in ore production revenue increased from $188 million
in 2008 to $230 million in 2009. This was due to the increasing price of gold on world markets. During the same period
operating costs dropped from $115 million to $104 million. Profits from the mine in 2009 totalled $125 million.
At the time of writing (Jan 2020), the mine continues to operate and during 2019 an 800 bed FIFO village was constructed for workers at
the mine. Gold production at the mine continues at an average of 250,000 ounces a year.
The mine is set to become the first in Australia to be powered by a wind, solar, battery and gas microgrid.
This power grid will consist of five wind turbines delivering 18 megawatts, a 10,000 panel 4 megawatt solar farm with a
13 megawatt battery energy storage system and a 16 megawatt gas engine power station.
TALL TALES AND TRUE
Miners Fired for Dancing
In early 2013 fifteen underground miners had their employment terminated because they engaged on a dance known as 'the Harlem shake'
on the work site. Some of the miners had been employed at the mine for up to 8 years but loyalty to the company meant nothing
and instead of being given a warning not to do it again, all the employees were fired.
Billy Cock once owned the Agnew Hotel but he was too fond of sampling his own wares and soon found himself deep in debt.
Eventually in despair, he went to the edge of a mine shaft, shot himself and fell in. His body was finally located and
he had to be fished out with a grapnel. His wake was held at the hotel where Billy was laid out on a corrugated iron
sheet while the last of his grog was finished up. Funeral goers even shook his hand to congratulate him on such a good
wake but Billy was by now well past caring.
Billy's brother, Tommy, took over the pub and seems to have done somewhat better than his brother, when a nickel discovery
at Leinster in the 1970s brought a windfall for the pub.
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BUILDINGS OF NOTE
Agnew Tavern. (Now demolished.)
State : Kalgoorlie
Federal : O'Connor
Postcode : 6435
Local Government : Shire of Leonora
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