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 Australian company founded in 1917 by George Julius, later Sir George, to develop manufacture and export these systems.

Automatic Totalisators Machine Shop, Chalmers St factory

This Automatic Totalisators image is thought to be at the factory at Chalmers Street near Central Station in Sydney. As with the previous image in the gallery, this machinery seems heavier than the machines in the workshop in the first two images in the Early Factory Images section of the Photo Gallery, accessible by clicking on the image below and scrolling up to previous image thumbnails, one with associated text starting This photograph is labelled First Workshop ATL and the other one with associated text starting Another image of the early factory machine shop. As observed in the previous image file in the Photo Gallery, if the photograph below was taken during WWII, when the factory was producing munitions then this may have required heavier machines. Whether all these men would have been available to work in the factory during a war is another question. Spencer Grace, the General Manager of Automatic Totalisators Limited, at the outbreak of the war however, was not permitted to join the RAAF, which he wanted to do, as he was informed that it was more important that he remain in Sydney to keep the Chalmers St. Factory operating efficiently.

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The photographers stamp on the photograph reads Exchange Studios 49 Pitt St. Sydney WARD & FARREN Proprietors.


The machine drive, as with the previous machine shop images is via belts driven by pulleys in the ceiling. The system of providing drive power via shafts and pulleys in the ceiling is probably a leftover from the steam engine era. After the steam era the ceiling system continued with electric motors driving the shafts. There is an interesting item near the most prominent machine in the room, to the right and rearward of the man in the foreground with the light coloured shirt, being operated by the second most prominent person in the room in a dark shirt. To the left of the upper part of the vertical cylindrical section of the prominent machine, is a lever dangling down from the ceiling with a hand-grip at the bottom end of it. This lever is pivoted about two thirds of the way up it, at a bracket attached to a lower roof beam and extends further up to a higher beam, where it is connected to a set of linked levers. This set of levers controls the machinery in the roof that contains the drive pulley and belt that comes down to a drive pulley on the prominent cylindrical machine originally mentioned. Presumably this lever either totally disengages the drive power from this machine or is a means of speed control for the machine or both.

The ladders mentioned previously, appear here yet again, probably related to the need to attend to the drive pulleys on the ceiling.

This is the last of the photographs that are annotated with "N.B". Presumably this does not refer to Nota Bene, possibly someone's initials or a place. Whoever, wherever or whatever N.B. is, it seems to group these photos together, probably chronologically. As previously speculated, it might stand for New Building if this photo was taken shortly after the move from Alice Street Newtown to Chalmers Street in the Sydney CBD in 1933/34. The images in this and the previous three images in the photo gallery including the images of the carpenter's shop and the blacksmith's shop are probably in the same building.

Neville Mitchell, a long serving Automatic Totalisators manager, made the following observation of the belt drive system: The noise level was high with so much equipment rotating. The 100 mm wide leather drive belts flapped about making their contribution to the general noise level, they were all flat leather with overlapping joints that added to the shop noise.

World War 2 Gun-sight

ATL World War Two Gunsight
Image Source: Powerhouse Museum Sydney

Above is a WWII Gun-sight, an example of the munitions produced at this factory during the war which was mentioned above the image at the top of this page, however this is not an example of heavy engineering which would require the heavyweight machines in the machine shop in the image at the top of this page.