The photographers stamp on this photograph reads: PHOTOGRAPHY BY L. & D. KEEN (COMMERCIAL PHOTOGRAPHERS) CITY MUTUAL BUILDING 309 QUEEN ST. BRISBANE.
I saw this building demolished prior to the construction of the Russ Hinze stand in 1983, along with the Julius Tote which was still standing derelict on the first floor. It was events like this that led me to the realisation that this history could be lost forever. I saw a novel method of demolition, involving a cable wrapped around the floor roof and sides of this building, being pulled by bulldozer chopping the building into sections. Prior to the demolition of this building the plug-in bay for the computer tote semi-trailer was moved from here, the eastern side of the track buildings, to the western side near a lavatory block. Over the nearby wall, at this new location and across Higgs street is the Holy Triad Temple. Considerable installation work had to be performed to make this the new wiring centre for the computer television and internal phone systems. This remained the home of the computer tote systems at Albion until the completion of the Russ Hinze stand. It then moved again to its final location underneath a corner of the the new Hinze stand at the eastern end, nearest the track.
Before leaving the electromechnical Julius Tote behind, I have included an image of a ticket produced by that system, provided by Chris Robertson, the most totalisator industry knowledgeable high value punter I have ever met.
Chris Robertson's Albion Park Ticket
Chris Robertson purchased this ticket in April 1977. I joined Automatic Totalisators Limited in Sydney in December that same year. In 1979 I moved to Brisbane with the new on course computer based totalisator systems which commnced operation that year. So the Julius Tote that created Chris' ticket had almost 2 years of operation left prior to it being superseded.
Chris wrote the following about a group of tickets of which this is one: ATL ticket selling operations were largely similar between states in the mid 1970's, with Melbourne being somewhat more advanced having computerised trifecta/trio J18 ticket issuing machines. For that reason I have saved only one machine issued ticket from each racecourse I visited in South Australia and Queensland. The tickets are all J8, with the exception of the Albion Park ticket which is from an earlier machine.
The earlier Tim Chris refers to I think was a J6. There were quite a few of these around the tracks when I started. My computer tote systems in Brisbane was the debut for the company's J22 Terminal which was the first sell pay terminal.
Chris also wrote the following about Albion Park: Of Brisbane in 1977 I have not much I can add. This was a quick visit for the Inter-dominion trotting heats at Albion Park. I remember barometer odds indicators at Albion Park, but can not recall much of what I saw at Doomben earlier in the day. I was surprised to see pre J8 ticket selling machines at a metropolitan course (Albion Park), but perhaps I should not have been. These same machines were still in use at ATL's Victorian provincial tracks, and as with the Adelaide comparison, betting volumes would have been roughly similar. Of more significance to me was that Albion Park trots were then run clockwise - the only such trotting track I have been to in Australia. Albion Park had been reconfigured to anti-clockwise running by my next visit in 1984. The J22 ticket issuing machine was in use by then.
The Barometer Indicators Chris refers to are Julius Tote indicators and part of one of these indicators is visible in the top left hand corner of the image at the top of the page. And now back to the computer era.
At this new location in the Hinze Stand, we had rooms allotted to us, adjacent to the semi's last parking bay, which we used for maintenance purposes. Here we were provided with a tearoom with a kitchenette and a window with an outside view, a large maintenance area and an additional room. This was the most modern and purpose built of the premises we occupied on racetracks and we spent much of our time here doing maintenance work when no operation was in progress at any of our customer's tracks. During this period we managed to put together a maintenance system from some of our spare parts and equipment we repaired which was discarded as unrepairable by other departments in the company. Using systems that were used for live operations to perform maintenance work, repairing circuit boards to component level was problematic, as you always risk taking a retrograde step when disturbing Minicomputer systems which were very hardware intensive in comparison to the Microcomputer systems. We worked very cautiously on these real-time systems required for on line operation as any retrograde step had to be rectified as well as the original fault before the next time the system was needed and this generated masses of overtime outside normal working hours. To be able to repair equipment without risking introducing a new fault in a system used for on line operations was a great relief. Emancipated from this major concern regarding our constant battle to eliminate downtime, we could at last relax and consequently became more productive repairing faults more quickly. We became so adept at this that we gained a reputation within the company and we ended up performing maintenance of a specialised front end system called a DMX for the whole company. We later quickly realised a second advantage of having this system. When we were not repairing hardware on this system, we could use it for software maintenance. We installed a software development system on the maintenance system and took over the software maintenance and enhancement programming which the systems department in head office had been doing. This pleased the Systems Department. There were many other benefits to this, however I will keep it short. Firstly this meant we could often forego step one when solving a software problem remotely, which is recreating the conditions under which it occurs. This was possible, as we were on hand when bugs were revealed. Secondly, for intermittent or otherwise obscure problems we could quickly produce a version of a failing application containing debug code and run it on line quickly, which would provide more information on what was going wrong. Another major benefit was that in the case of a simple to identify software problem, showing itself during a meeting, a quick fix could be performed and we could have the rectified version of the application running at the same meeting that it was identified. This maintenance system occupied the additional room previously mentioned, inside our new premises underneath the Russ Hinze stand. This whole facility was very secure, with a wire cage around the two sides of the seimi-trailer computer tote parking area which did not have adjacent walls and this sealed off our whole premises from the public. Before leaving the Russ Hinze Stand, I remember having several wonderful meals over the years at the famous Silks restaurant which was on the second floor of this Stand. It provided a first class seafood smorgasbord, a place you would take visitors to, if you wanted to impress them. Although you could look down at the trotting track to see the races, the magnificent seafood displays were a distraction.
Note the Ford mobile tote truck in the image. The writing on the side of the Ford Truck is faded and touched up but reads THE JULIUS PREMIER TOTEMOBILE, next line DOUBLES TOTALISATOR and at the bottom AUTOMATIC TOTALISATORS LTD AUSTRALIA. The rugby football shaped emblem on the door below the words Premier Totemobile, is a company logo I have seen attached to some of the Julius equipment, like the J8 Ticket Issuing Machines. The central word in the logo is PREMIER and from memory in arcs above and below this word are the words Automatic Totalisators Limited Australia. These mobile totes were used to operate meetings at country tracks moving from one to the other often in a circuit. A variety of vehicles were transformed into mobile totes by Automatic Totalisators and were quite popular. When I arrived on the scene at the Brisbane tracks, the company was operating Doubles Totes based on paper-tape recording. Have a look at the next image in the Photo Gallery to see what this machinery looked like. This mobile system could have been at Albion prior to this augmenting the existing Julius Tote with a Doubles pool. Alternatively it could be waiting to go on a circuit somewhere. To read more about the mobile totes have a look at Julius Premier Totemobile chapter of this website. If anyone knows of the existence of one of these mobile totes or has information about them, I know the Principal Curator of the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney is very interested in them. If you wish to pass your information on, send it to me by returning to the Photo Gallery by clicking on the image and using the email link at the bottom of that page.
The Breakfast Creek Hotel was a two minute walk down Higgs street and was a favourite haunt for local ATL employees as well as the ATL visitors who mainly came from our head office in Sydney. This hotel offered Beer Off the Wood and almost every visitor asked to try this beer or return to the Brekky Creek Hotel for more. This Hotel was, and still is, famous for its high quality range of steaks. I have just looked it up on the Internet, 2014 and it is billed as world famous. We spent many company occasions there for lunch or dinner at this hotel. When I started here, Albion Park was home to the Albion Park Trotting Club and in 1993, one of our other customers, the Gabba Greyhound Racing Club moved from The Gabba to this track which became home to both trotting and greyhound venues.