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Copley History

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Copley - Cities, Towns and Localities

History of Copley

The most southerly of creeks in the Lake Eyre Basin is Leigh’s Creek. It was Edward John Eyre, who was the first white man to see this creek, when crossing it on his way north in 1840. The creek was named after Harry Leigh who was employed on the nearby Leigh’s Creek Pastoral Run, which was first leased in 1857.

The railway arrived in 1881, with Leigh’s Creek Station being built just south of where the line crossed the creek. Copley at that time was originally a rail siding for the Old Ghan train named Leigh’s Creek.

Coal-bearing shale was discovered west of the station during the sinking of a railway dam in 1888 by John Henry Reid. A year later, after the visit and examination of the area by the government Geologist H. Y. L Brown, there was the establishment of underground workings. However, the No 1 shaft, sunk by the Leigh Creek Coal Mining Company was abandoned on striking a heavy flow of water.

In 1891, Leigh Creek was renamed to Copley, after the then Commissioner of Crown Lands, William Copley MP.

In 1892 a new shaft was sunk in the area, but only small quantities of coal were extracted and operations ceased in 1894. It wasn’t until 1940, when the State’s coal supplies became precarious as a result of the Second World War, that any further consideration was given to the Leigh Creek deposits.

During that time the name of Leigh Creek was applied to the railway station, post office, and later the hotel, despite the town now carrying the name of Copley. It wasn’t until 1916 that the name Copley was given to the station and post office, with only the local hotel stilling bearing the original name to this day.

It was in 1976 that Electricity Trust of South Australia (ETSA) decided to build a new township called Leigh Creek, with the site being selected and landscaping established in 1977. Construction started in 1979 and the first house occupied in 1980.

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