This history page contains a photograph, which is one of several belonging to the photo gallery pages, which are part of several pages relating to the invention of the world's first automatic totalizator in 1913 and Automatic Totalisators Limited, the Australian company founded in 1917 by George Julius to develop, manufacture and export these systems.

The first Automatic Totalisators Machine Shop

This photograph is labelled First Workshop ATL. This building does not look like it is located inside the shed in the early factory staff image shown below titled Staff outside the Alice street factory at Newtown. That early staff photograph was taken at the Newtown factory where the first workshop would also have been, at 146-158 Alice Street in Sydney. This factory spanned multiple blocks on Alice Street. A 1949 aerial survey photograph, which was taken long after Automatic Totalisators Limited had moved to a factory in Chalmers Street in the city and two years after it had moved again to its final factory at Meadowbank in 1947, shows this factory at that time almost spanning from Alice Street to the next parallel street Laura Street, abutting the gardens of the terrace houses on Laura Street. Additionally it shows the factory broadening out considerably in the direction of Hawken Street, that joins Alice and Laura streets, after it clears the neighbouring houses on the eastern side standing on Alice Street. This suggests that the Automatic Totalisators Limited factory site at Alice Street was sizeable. The photograph shown in the first image below could have been taken inside another building at this site. Although today, and even in the 1949 aerial survey photo, there is no sign of the significant majestic sandstone building peering over the roof of the factory on the right hand side in the second image below. Looking at the proximity of this building to the factory this could well have been standing on the factory grounds.

More after the image...


Click here to go Back
Click on the image to go back to the Photo Gallery

The photographers stamp in the image reads Hall & Co 44 Hunter Street Sydney


Half way down the image above, slightly to the left of centre, there are two men standing. Unlike everyone else, they are observing the scene and are not engaged in any machine shop work. The left man of the pair is extremely well dressed, complete with suit, hat, Mandarin collar, bow tie/cravat and a dress hanky in his breast pocket. He looks like a visitor, an impression that is strengthened by the fact that he is still wearing his jacket, as there is plenty of evidence in these early factory photographs that staff coming to work in suits and hats, remove their jackets and hats and hang them up on hooks on walls and pillars. An example of this can be seen in the image above, where a jacket can be seen hanging on the first pillar to the left and behind the first lathe operator, which is somewhat obscured by a foreground drive belt. Having mentioned staff usually hanging up their hats, there is a rare exception to this in the image above. The man operating a stand drill near the window to the right and behind the near lathe operator, is wearing a hat. He also seems to have a pocket watch. Our supposed visitor also appears in another photo taken inside the Alice Street factory and in that photograph someone has considered him sufficiently important, to add an annotation in Biro, with an arrow pointing to him. Unfortunately the writing is hard to read. It consists of three words and the first two appear to be Curtis of. I have nicknamed this visitor ATMOM (Automatic Totalisators Man Of Mystery.) As ATMOM also appears in this other photograph, which clearly shows the inside of the Alice Street factory, it is reasonable to deduce that, as he is also in the image above dressed the same as in the other photo, that the image above also shows the inside of a building which is part of the Alice Street factory.

The man accompanying ATMOM, is also well dressed wearing a waistcoat, tie and fob watch chain. He probably was wearing a suit, in which case as already observed, has removed his jacket and hung it up. This, if true implies the second man may be an employee of Automatic Totalisators Limited and judging by his dress is probably a manager. He also appears in the staff photograph taken outside the Alice street factory shown below confirming he is an employee of the company. This paints a picture that ATMOM is a visitor and his companion is a company manager conducting a tour. This supposed manager appears in the image below, complete with his fob watch chain, wearing a light coloured jacket and sitting to the right of two central figures who are the best dressed members of the group and give the impression they are the highest level managers in the photograph. They are in the seated row behind those sitting on the pavement. They are both wearing hats and are located approximately behind the mid section of the small ramp across the gutter. There are another two managerial looking types to the right of our fob watch toting manager (excuse the pun, totalisators/tote/toting) in the staff photograph, resulting in a group of five, who probably constitute the upper echelon of the staff photograph. As the manager with the fob watch chain in the image above is also in the Alice Street factory staff photo below, it confirms the proposition that the image above shows the Alice Street factory.

Staff outside the Alice street factory at NewtownAn image of staff outside the Alice street factory

This factory operated from at least the establishment of Automatic Totalisators Limited in 1917 till 1933/34. There is a possibility that it pre-dated Automatic Totalisators Limited and was in use by its predecessor company Totalling Mechanisms Limited, starting with the manufacture of the world's first automatic totalisator, which was installed in Ellerslie New Zealand in 1913.

I have in my possession a letter of commendation for my wife's Auntie's father, written by the Works Manager Henry Setright of Automatic Totalisators Pty. Ltd. on the 9th May 1921 and in this letter there is the Alice Street Newtown address. My wife's relative could be in the staff photograph shown above!

It is interesting to note that in the image at the top of this page, on the light coloured wall on the left hand side, there are what appear to be pages attached to it. These probably contain engineering drawings or other technical information. There is a man standing in front of one of them with his hands behind his back pondering over one of them. Zoomed in on a high resolution version of this image, it can be seen that this man is so close to the drawing, that he must be looking at a very minute detail. An interesting quirk of these old long exposure photographs can be seen in the drive belt in the foreground that obscures part of this man's arm. The drive belt was obviously in motion when the photograph was taken and flapping around to such an extent that at one limit of movement it obscures part of his arm and at the other limit it does not. This gives the appearance in the photograph of his arm still being visible through the drive belt.

I find the dress standard in these early factories rather interesting. The lathe operator in the foreground of the image at the top of this page, is wearing a tie and a waistcoat with a chain which presumably is attached to a pocket watch. This seems to be at odds with the surroundings, the dirty floor and the swarf all around. As previously mentioned, the man wearing the hat and ATMOM's tour guide are also wearing fob watch chains. There are many men in the staff image wearing ties. There are some people in the rear of the image at the top of this page however, wearing overalls which is more in line with present day dress standards.

I get a strong impression from seeing these early factory photographs, that no one in this era has yet given a thought to anything resembling OH&S. I mention this here, as the image at the top of this page is the first place I have seen any concession to anything resembling the OH&S doctrine that would take decades after the era of these photographs to reach its dawning. This OH&S concession in the image at the top of this page is difficult to see, however opposite to where ATMOM and his factory guide/manager are standing, near the window on the right, there is a very large electric motor sitting on a bench. This motor has a large belt that is driving a pulley in the ceiling above a shelf high above ATMOM's head and somewhat to the left. Instead of leaving the belt to run across this space from upper left to lower right in the open, a plank has been installed under the belt presumable to keep anyone from accidentally walking into this moving belt, where it descends below head height near the motor on the right hand side. I suppose we are looking at something that is one of many early seedlings which would eventually grow into a fledgling OH&S industry.

Having mentioned the precursor to OH&S protective plank installed under the bottom of a drive belt, this plank triggered a significant realisation AHA moment for me. I had seen it somewhere before and thinking about it I remembered it was in another one of these old photos in my collection. The place I had seen it before is in a photograph that now follows the one at the top of this page in the Photo Gallery. This ultimately led to the conclusion that the image at the top of this page overlaps with the following image in the Photo Gallery. It shows a perspective from a position on the near side of the wooden box, behind the nearest turner and lathe in the centre of the image at the top of this page, looking about 45 degrees left. In this following photograph, the place where the wooden box is standing, is occupied by what looks like a small milling machine. The milling machine behind the box with the machinist leaning on it and the lathe on the left side of the box, are in the foreground of the following image. This following image can be seen by clicking on the image at the top of this page and selecting the image thumbnail immediately below the first thumbnail with the associated text starting with Another image of the early factory machine shop.

In early contemplations regarding which factory the image at the top of this page belonged to, I considered the possibility that it may have belonged to the factory that followed Alice Street Newtown, which was at Chalmers Street next to Central Station. This resulted from difficulty envisaging how the fancy archways in the image at the top of this page fitted in to the image of the factory building shown in the staff photograph in the image above. In August 2018 I had a good look at the Chalmers Street factory, which is still standing and I am now satisfied that there is no sign of anything resembling these archways in the Chalmers Street factory. Additionally, I can personally attest to the fact that the third and final factory of Automatic Totalisators Limited used in Meadowbank, being a custom built mid 1940s architecture, had nothing resembling the archways in the image at the top of this page, as I knew the Meadowbank factory very well as I worked there. In 2016 this factory had been demolished and there was a hole in the ground where the factory stood, on top of which apartment blocks were built. This further confirms the reasoning above concluding that the image at the top of this page is indeed part of the Alice street Newtown factory. This leaves the Chalmers St. ex-factory building, which now has a furniture lighting soft furnishings and living accessories shop Spence & Lyda occupying the ground floor, with apartments above, as the only ex-factory building of Automatic Totalisators Limited still standing. This building seems well suited to its new purpose.

A full sized version of the staff image above can be viewed by clicking on the image at the top of this page and selecting the image thumbnail below the one corresponding to the image at the top of this page, in the loaded Photo Gallery index with the associated text starting with The earliest factory staff photograph I have.

The other image in which ATMOM appears mentioned above, can be viewed by clicking on the image at the top of this page and scrolling down and selecting the image thumbnail further down the page in the Photo Gallery index, with the associated text starting with Another image of a Workshop in the Alice Street Automatic Totalisators Limited factory.

The number of coincidences relating to this history are uncanny. I have received emails from two members of the Automatic Totalisators Limited Interest Fraternity, who have indicated they had relatives who lived in Alice Street Newtown.

Brian Campbell, who shares my initials, Christian name and Irish heritage, has been looking after a Julius Tote Shaft Adder for several years that I donated to Sydney University, which was accepted by Professor Trevor Cole in December 1991. Brian informed me that the shaft adder will be moved to the new Chau Chak Wing Museum at the university and that the catalogue reference for the shaft adder is SC2018.27, which is likely to be the final reference. Following is an extract from Brian's email on 29/04/2017 regarding Alice Street Newtown:

It is interesting that you mention Alice Street Newtown as that was the street that my grandparents lived in when they first came out from Ireland. Small world department.
David Rogers, an ex RAAF F111 pilot and Air Vice Marshal as well as an honorary member of the Ipswich Turf Club when he was Base Commander of Amberley, contacted me in 2013 regarding his mother's cousin Norm Noble who worked for Automatic Totalisators Limited. I have several fond memories of Norm, as you always felt uplifted just being in his company. On 19/05/2018 David wrote the following comment which echoes Brian's above:
My grandfather lived in Alice St Newtown in 1890 and was married there in 1895 then moved out in 1898, so I would say he would have been able to resolve your dilemma about the factory. Unfortunately, he died in 1958. Sorry about that!
Of particular interest is that David's comment indicates that his grandfather would have been able to resolve the dilemma as to what belonged to the Alice Street Factory, which also applies to Brian's grandparents as well.
On 29/5/2018 David added the following:
My Grandfather bought 12 Broadford St Bexley in 1903 for 485 pounds and it remained in the family until 2015. My mother (Norm Noble's cousin) and her family lived next door!
Having mentioned the Chau Chak Wing Museum at Sydney University, I will add that in August 2018, Narelle and I had lunch with Matthew Connell who is the Principal Curator at the Powerhouse Museum. After lunch we had coffee in a building which Matthew introduced us to as it has a very novel modern architecture, which is called the Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, which is across the road from the Powerhouse Museum. Matthew is also very interested in Totalisator History and Sir George Julius. When I mentioned the Chau Chak Wing Museum at Sydney University and that the Julius Tote Shaft Adder at Sydney University was being moved into the new museum, Matthew asked who I was in contact with regarding this move. When I replied Brian Campbell, Matthew indicated that he knows Brian.