It is quite clear that the items being assembled here are large adders. It does not appear to be a production line as each of the adders being assembled seems to be in a similar early state of assembly. Nine overhanging assemblies, that look like a pair of fingers, standing on top of the left hand top support bar and protruding left of each of the nearest adders in the image, look like the fulcrums for the storage screw locking levers. These are at the front of the adders and on the right of the nearest adders you can see the rear end support pillars standing to support the nine storage screws yet to be installed. The storage screws are long tubular devices which are a mechanical form of memory described in the Brough Park Newcastle Upon Tyne 1936 section pages accessible by clicking on the image below and scrolling up to that section. These finger like assemblies make them look very much like the adders that were installed at Longchamps in France in 1928.
More after the image...
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The photographers stamp on the photograph reads HALL & CO., Commercial Photographers, 20 HUNTER STREET, SYDNEY.
If the Adders in the image above are being built for Longchamps, this photo must have been taken when the factory was in the latter period of being located here, as the last Newtown address appears in the Sydney phone books in November 1933. In 1934 the Sydney phone book gives the address of the Automatic Totalisators Limited factory as Chalmers Street in the Sydney CBD.
On the nearest two adders in the image above, the finger like assemblies to the left of the supporting bar, you can see some of the the storage screw drive pulleys already in place. All the men working on the right hand row of tables, are working on this area of the Adders. There is an image of one of these Longchamps adders fully assembled and installed in the Longchamps machine room, which is described in the section of the Photo Gallery with a title starting Longchamps Paris 1928 ..., which is in the first page of the Photo Gallery. I have presented a reduced version of that image here:
A Longchamps mechanical shaft Adder
The pulleys mentioned as being visible in the Adders being assembled, are seen in this image above as the facing nine shiny pulleys, half way up the adder and above the row of black drive shaft pulleys. There is a good view of one of the constituent shaft adders and its associated storage screw in this image. The horizontal tubular device, that crosses the post with the number 5 on it at the top of the Adder, is a storage screw. The right hand end of the storage screw is attached to an assembly that is an electromechanical shaft adder. There are 9 storage screws and associated shaft adders in the equipment mounted below this level of the adder, which are mounted 90 degrees around with their associated adders at the rear of the assembly. The 5 on top of the post indicates the runner number for which this adder is accumulating bets.
As with other images of these early factories, the image at the top of this page reveals how primitive working conditions were in those days. It is a long time to come before people start to think about posture and OH&S issues in general. There are many heads craned downwards, it gives me a headache looking at them! I do not think that any of the workers in this photograph, or any other workers of the time or their management would have considered the limited body positions that a worker can assume while standing without causing health problems or the considerable muscular effort keeping the body upright reducing blood supply in loaded muscles. Something in the order of half a century had to elapse before industry started to take these concerns seriously, driven by the cost of non compliance and even then there was significant resistance to OH&S in the culture of organisations.
The floor in the bottom left of the image looks as though it has a foundation of bricks overlaid with something like bitumen. The floor looks very old and as if it has had significant wear as the bitumen like surface has a significant area where it has peeled off leaving the bricks exposed. Perhaps it used to be a road! The larger benches on the left are of a solid purpose built construction and look like they have had a considerable working life. The benches the adders are on seem to be a quick construction made out of boxwood. The long exposure time of these old photos is evident as a couple of the people in this image have moved during the exposure time causing them to appear blurred. There is silver nitrate blemishing visible mainly in the bottom right of the photograph.