This is an image of the main tote house and betting ring at the South Australian Jockey Club's Morphettville racetrack. The original Julius Tote installation was performed here in 1921 with 34 terminals and a second Julius Tote Installation was performed in 1926 adding another 30 terminals. These were the 13th and the 23rd installations performed by Automatic Totalisators. On the first floor of the building in the image, is the Julius Tote machine room and some of the runner counter windows can be seen on the side of this machine room at the top left of this image. The blind type odds indicator with the sign Approximate Totalisator Odds on top is a later Automatic Totalisators product. The photograph was probably taken in the 1950s. The Julius Tote is still in operation and will continue till 1975 when it is replaced with an Automatic Totalisators computer totalisator. This was two years before I joined the company to work on the computer systems that would replace the Queensland Julius Totes. By the looks of the ladder leading up to the odds indicator it seems that there might be a problem with the indicator requiring some attention.
Arthur V Kewney, the Secretary of the S.A. Jockey Club, Morphettville, Adelaide, S.A., writes the following testimonial in 1922:
I am directed to inform you that after a 12 months' trial the Committee are very satisfied with the working and the smooth running of the Premier Totalisator which your Company installed for this Club at Morphettville. The machine has fully demonstrated its capability to do all the work that was claimed for it. On Adelaide Cup Day the second time it was in use, the machine handled 36,668 pounds, and on the Cup itself 7,213 pounds 5 shillings was invested, both records for any one machine operating in this state. Since the installation of the Premier Totalisator in May 1921, 13 race meetings have been held at Morphettville and 253,123 pounds 10 shillings has passed through the machine.
More after the image.
This photograph had no description with it. I have been to Morphettville once and been on the Glenelg tram several times and suspected this photograph was taken there however I needed to confirm this. Lyn Roberts, Executive Assistant at the South Australian Jockey Club was very helpful, taking the query to the Chief Executive Officer Brenton Wilkinson who confirmed this photograph is Morphettville and taken at the back of the Derby grandstand. Lyn also wrote The shed on the right hand side was the ticket entrance facility adjacent the tram line (trams still travel from Adelaide to nearby Glenelg and we have our own stop on race days for patrons). Brenton cannot definitely date the photograph but feels 1950's would be correct. I noticed that the 1921 Julius Tote installation performed at Morphettville is recorded on the SAJC website. Lyn replied regarding this history document The one to which you refer would have been written by Frank Keen who joined the Club as Assistant Secretary in 1954 and was appointed Secretary in 1964. He retired following the Royal Visit in October 1981 and died about two years ago. I have attached a three page extract from this history relating to Totalisators which may be of interest to you. Your website is amazing!! I found the Frank Keen document very interesting and have included extracts from it below. Lyn mentions the Ticket Entrance Facility. This revived a distant memory. ATL had turnstile product which was very popular. They were present at every one of our racetracks in Brisbane when I started working there. I am fairly sure that these turnstiles would have been in use in the entrance facility at Morphettville. These turnstiles were not only used by racetrack customers but any business that had an interest in counting the number of customers entering their grounds. I spent decades travelling Australia by light aircraft and was amazed at the obscure far flung places these turnstiles kept appearing.
In parallel with my communicating with the SAJC, Neville Mitchell, the best ATL historian I know queried this photograph with his friend Malcolm Smith, an ex Detective in South Australia. He provided the following information on this image. Yes, I think I can say with a positive degree of certainty it is Morphettville, located within the boundary of Anzac Highway, Morphett Road, Bray Street and others. So, how many points of reference can I find. The photo is taken from inside the Course looking approximately north/west. Glenelg is to the left, Adelaide to the right. I think the building in the foreground is still there. I forget what it looks like from the Course side, but from the tram side it seems familiar, but I haven't travelled on the tram for some time or endeavoured to take detailed notice of the building architecture. I can see two trams beyond the building, where the Adelaide-Glenelg tramline is. They appear to be 'drop-centre' type and we had those. A pity they are not the famous 'H' class, all closed in. The car park is still there. Further on, there is a double decker bus (not electric trolley) and that would be on Anzac Highway heading towards the city. In the angle north/west I can see a vacant area between the trees and that would be Camden Oval on the corner of Anzac Highway and Morphett Road and it is still there. Glandore is a suburb towards the city. I have only been to the races there a couple of times, both on duty, and I remember 'turfing' someone off the Course and I think there was a police room in the low-level building to the right.
Following are some extracts from Frank Keen's South Australian Jockey Club history document:
A significant advance in accommodation and service was achieved when in 1921 a new brick building was erected to house the new Julius totalisator.
In those early days it was not uncommon to have two different totalisator operations on the one day with a five shilling tote in the grandstand and a two shillings and sixpence tote in the Derby and on the Flat, with each being separate pools and declaring separate dividends.
In the immediate post World war II era, a hotchpot of totalisator systems evolved. Automatic Totalisators Ltd (ATL) conducted an electro-mechanical system for win and place betting on Adelaide races, this was the most efficient system then available but it required capital expenditure on ticket issue machines and costly installation and maintenance of multi-core cables from each selling enclosure to the central control room. Bertram Totalisators operated a manual box issue system of pre-printed tickets for interstate win and place betting and all quinella and trifecta betting. The main objections to this system was the doubtful security, delay in declaring dividends and the patrons dislike of pre-printed and coded tickets.
Quinella betting was introduced at Morphettville in 1958.
Women were first authorised by Government Legislation to work in Totalisators in November 1963.
The manual totalisator system was dispensed with in December 1967 when the Committee accepted a tender from ATL to install and operate machine betting for all pools.
Totalisator betting on Sydney races was introduced in 1969.
A closed circuit television (black and white) of totalisator odds was installed in the grandstand and members enclosure in 1970. The system was later extended to the Derby and Flat.
I find the above extracts particularly interesting as they highlight the fact that totalisators did not suddenly spring up with the functionality we know today but developed over a long period of time. Additionally, I find the reference to women first authorised to work on totalisators in 1963 curious, as in 1977 when I started work on the computer side of totalisator systems most of the sellers were women.
The following ticket images were provided by Chris Robertson, the most totalisator industry knowledgeable high value punter I have ever met. The right hand ticket was produced by the Julius tote inside the tote house in the image at the top of this page. Although I have flown to Parafield airfield in light aircraft, I never managed to visit Globe Derby Park which is on the western side of the airport across the Salisbury Highway where the middle ticket below was produced. I have been to Victoria Park a few times but never to a meeting, it always looked more like a public park than a racetrack. I did see a Victoria Park Grandstand entrance, which might have been part of the racetrack infrastructure. The Clipsal 500 straight now runs through this park. The left hand ticket below was produced at Victoria Park.
Chris Robertson's Adelaide Tickets
Chris Robertson wrote the following about the group of tickets to which the above tickets belonged: 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.
Chris made the following comparisons with South Australia: I kept more of the hand-written tickets sold by ATL at Adelaide racecourses because they are more interesting. In Victoria the sale of Daily Doubles and Quadrellas on course was a manual TAB operation, which meant selling closed twenty-five minutes prior to the first leg to allow time for collation and transmission of betting totals to head office. South Australian racegoers were in the fortunate position of having the on-course tote carry out the sale of Daily Doubles, Trebles and Fourtrellas (the S.A name for the Quadrella) right up to the jump.
The following image of manual tote tickets from Chris Robertson demonstrates an interesting point. When you don't have automatic totalisator machinery you have to conduct a manual tote. The following tickets were produced and recorded manually by Automatic Totalisators as the tote machinery at the time did not support the Daily Double and Treble pools.
Chris Robertson's Adelaide Manual Tickets
Chris wrote the following about the above manual tickets:
Apart from a difference in closing times, the ATL Adelaide operation was very similar to the Victorian TAB on-course. Both used double sided carbon paper as an extra security measure to dissuade would be forgers from adding units or altering a number. I have included a scan of both sides of the ATL written tickets. If you flip horizontally the rear of the tickets you get an almost exact duplicate of the front of the ticket. The reason for this added security is that in both states winning tickets were usually cashed without matching the original with the duplicate. This was done to save time. Of course larger dividends, as well as tickets with double-digit units, were matched with the duplicate before payout. So were tickets from other days.
One difference is the use of an 'x' on the South Australian tickets to signify one unit. This made it even less likely that anyone would be tempted to add a zero. Interestingly the South Australian TAB did the same thing off-course. Another difference is that there is a place on the ATL ticket to add the dollar value of a 'Field' bet. In Victoria such a bet would have required filling in a separate multiple ticket - a much more laborious process.
Win and Place odds indicators in Adelaide were rudimentary. TV monitors showed the approximate odds, with the odds being changed manually, and at irregular intervals. It should be remembered that betting volumes in South Australia on Saturday metropolitan meetings would have been roughly equivalent to provincial mid-week in Victoria, and for the most part there was little sophistication in odds display at the latter in the mid 1970's.
It seems that within Automatic Totalisators, that the names of the Australian State Branch Managers and Chief Engineers were icons. Most staff I met knew the names even if they had not met them. The last names I remember from South Australia were Peter Hall the Branch Manager and Jan Potocke Chief Engineer.