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 company founded to develop, manufacture and export these systems.

The Blacksmiths Shop a part of the ATL Factory

This photograph of the Blacksmith's shop in an early Automatic Totalisators Limited factory is something more associated with the horse and cart era, however I have heard many times from people remembering this era how important the Blacksmith's Shop was to the manufacture of electromechanical computing equipment. Even parts of the early ticket issuing machines were made in the Blacksmith's Shop. As Neville Mitchell, the best company historian I know, said they were part of the industry even when I was there in 1962 there was a blacksmith at the Meadowbank plant. Meadowbank was the last of the Automatic Totalisators Limited factories which was demolished in 2016.

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The photographer's stamp on the photograph reads: Exchange Studios 49 Pitt St. Sydney WARD & FARREN Proprietors.

Another comment Neville made about the Meadowbank factory was The back of the factory which backed onto Constitution Road was levelled off. Some sheds were there and they were used first off for the Blacksmith because he was noisy and dirty. He also did some of the small castings in bronze. Those base metal castings in the blacksmiths shop and some of those sections were beaten by hand in the old fashioned way.

On the 17th June 2014, William Johnson, a long serving Automatic Totalisators engineer and manager, who worked overseas on several iconic company projects like Caracas, telephoned me regarding this and other photographs in this photo gallery relating to the Automatic Totalisators Chalmers Street factory. As a result of this conversation and other emailed information I was able to determine that the factory building in Chalmers Street was still standing. Regarding the Blacksmiths, he recalled being told that there was a document in the company's human resource records that stated that the two blacksmiths had to be looked after. As the story goes, the two blacksmiths had proved outstanding loyalty to the company by working without pay during difficult times and that in recognition of that they had guaranteed employment with the company. The Blacksmiths Shop in the image above may have been in the Chalmers Street Factory.

Three days later William sent the following: I will look for the names of the two men from the blacksmiths shop who looked after the de-burring bench at Meadowbank. We apprentices were sent to this bench as a punishment for a week or so when we misbehaved. A necessary but boring part of engineering! It is particularly interesting that William made this comment, as there is a transcript of an interview with an ex Automatic Totalisators Limited Apprentice, who relates his difficult life as an apprentice and his experience grinding the dags off rough cast tail weights for the Mosquito fighter Bomber during WWII in the Chalmers Street factory when Automatic Totalisators Limited was manufacturing munitions for the war. To read this article click on the image above, then scroll up and select the previous image thumbnail in the Photo Gallery with the associated text starting This is an image of the Automatic Totalisators factory at Chalmers Street and scroll down to the heading Danny Alexander - Automatic Totalisators Limited Apprentice.