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Recognition for Iconic Gwalia Landmark

The Sons of Gwalia Headframe and Winder engine was awarded an Engineering Heritage National Marker on 31 May 2015.

The engineering significance of the Sons of Gwalia Headframe and Winder engine was recently recognised when it was awarded an Engineering Heritage National Marker under the Engineers Australia’s Heritage Recognition Programme.

The research and nomination was undertaken by Engineering Heritage Western Australia. The Shire of Leonora hosted a function in celebration and to unveil the Marker on Sunday 31 May  2015 during the annual Golden Gift weekend.

The Marker was unveiled by Wendy Duncan MLA, Kalgoorlie, and accepted on behalf of the Shire of Leonora by Cr Peter Craig, Shire President.

"The Shire of Leonora recognises the significance of the Sons of Gwalia headframe and has made substantial financial contribution and will supplement a Lotterywest Conserving Cultural Heritage grant for conservation work to save this iconic landmark," said Cr Craig.

Ian Maitland, Chairman, Engineering Heritage Western Australia, welcomed guests and gave the historical background to mining at Gwalia. He said that “Our engineering heritage, particularly in remote country areas, often does not receive the same attention as some other forms of heritage. The Engineering Heritage National Marker is awarded to the Sons of Gwalia headframe and   winder engine, and pays tribute to our forefather engineers.”

Francis Norman, President of Engineers Western Australia Division, explained the Engineers  Australia Engineering Heritage Recognition Programme to the approximately 40 guests. He said the programme focused the attention of both engineers and the general community on the role played by engineers and engineering in the development of the nation and encouraged the physical conservation of Australia’s important engineering heritage works.

The Oregon timber headframe was designed in 1898 during the period Herbert Hoover served as the Sons of Gwalia mine manager. The headframe is about 19 metres high with a 45-degree runway on the same incline as the mineshaft. It is the only large timber incline headframe surviving in Australia, and one of only a few remaining timber headframes of any size from the 19th century.

The timber headframe and winder engine worked together to transport people, timber, horses and ore in and out of the mine workings      below. The headframe guided the hauling ropes

between the winder and the ore carts in the shaft and enabled the carts to be elevated so the ore could be discharged at a convenient height above ground.

The two cylinder 1000 horsepower steam-powered Fraser and Chalmers engine was capable of hauling 1500 feet per minute. It is the largest of its type in Australia and is a good example of the technological achievements of more than a century ago.


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