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.
On the nearest two adders in the image above, underneath 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 size version of that image below.
If the Adders in the image above are being built for Longchamps, a system that commenced operation in 1928, this photo must have been taken when the factory was in its second half of the period of being located here, as the last Newtown address appears in the Sydney phone books up until November 1933. In 1934 the Sydney phone book gives the address of the Automatic Totalisators Limited factory as Chalmers Street in the Sydney CBD. It is higly probable that these are Longchamps adders as I have not seen any photographs of this particular model utilised anywhere else.
The following Trove archive Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate article, demonstrates the significance of the French contract for Australia, which involves multiple racetracks. It is the largest Austral-French commercial transaction at the time. The assembly work in the photo above is being done for Longchamps racecourse that is part of the French contract.
Citation: 1926 'TOTALISATOR FOR FRANCE.', Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (NSW : 1876 - 1954) , 22 March, p. 5, viewed 20 May, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article137516504
The French order meant considerable design work, as now, for the first time, the Adders were to be divorced from the Indicators. The Adders had to have a capacity of a minimum of 273 Ticket Issuing Machines through a Distributor connected to one Escapement Wheel, over 35 Escapement Wheels where needed on each Adder. The Adder design was a feat of mechanical engineering, all values and transfers being mechanically linked. The Ticket Issuing Machine design also was a remarkable piece of engineering and saw the introduction of a machine to sell both Win & Place tickets from the one machine. This was a big step forward and proved to be one of the main features for many years to come. The equipment for Longchamp was manufactured in the factory at Alice Street, Newtown, N.S.W. except for the Ticket Issuing Machines, which were made in Paris under supervision.
TOTALISATOR FOR FRANCE
Universal Automatic Totalisators, Limited, Sydney, has contracted to instal at Longchamps totalisator machines of the type used in Sydney.
At first they will be operated by Australians to allow of a French staff being trained. This, together with the contract signed by Mr. Bethell on behalf of the same company last month to instal totalisators at 16 French racecourses is the largest Austral-French commercial transaction yet effected.
Frederick Wilkinson, who was the Automatic Totalisators Limited State Tote Manager and worked for the company for 30 years including the duration of this factory and the following one in Chalmers Street in the city, lived in Paris for 4 1/2 years working on the Longchamps project according to his son Rudolph Wilkinson. Rudolph also indicates that the Longchamps system was one of several to be installed in France as indicated above and that Frederick married Dorothy Watt during his time in France.
A Longchamps mechanical shaft Adder
The pulleys mentioned as being visible in the Adders being assembled in the image at the top of the page, are seen in this image above as the facing nine shiny pulleys, half way up the adder, which are 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 perpendicular to the one on top, with their associated 9 adders at the rear of the assembly out of view of the image. The number 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 of the factory above, 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.