Sunday, December 21, 2008

Chapter 6 - Holmesglen Constructions

As the father of a daughter and Joan having to give up work, temporarily, I had to increase my take home pay and when a vacancy came up at the Concrete House Project at Holmesglen, I submitted my application for a promotion for the position of Internal Auditor with a “C2” Classification. I was successful and found that instead of having to come to work in the city each day, my work was now about 10 minutes from our home in Gillon Court, Oakleigh.
The work was interesting and I learned a lot about the process of estimating and building pre-cast concrete slabs for houses and high rise flats. In order to audit the various processes at the factory one had to have good knowledge of them to determine their efficiency in relation to the budgets established by the Board of Commissioner’s and whether the factory was operating within these budgets. The knowledge that I picked up during these years came in good stead when I “retired” to Yarrawonga in 2000 and started a building company. I was able to, with minimum training at a TAFE College to get registered as a builder in Victoria, my previous experience and knowledge being invaluable.
Precast Concrete Wall in Factory
While I was at Holmesglen, the American Astronauts landed on the moon and I shall never forget that day, when all the staff congregated around a TV screen in the Recreation Room to view this great event.
Life was great, with Joan picking me up for lunch and after work in our Nissan Bluebird, with Jacqueline in her car seat at the rear.
One of the duties that the Assistant Auditor at the Holmesglen factory had to perform was the monthly audit of the Holmesglen Branch Office of the housing Commission. This was when I took up golf. Mike De Jong, my boss and I would drive to the Holmesglen Golf Club and play the nine holes that finished at Warrigal Road, complete the audit and then played nine holes back to the club house.
In order to pay off the mortgage as soon as possible, when my previous boss Mr Les Biro asked me whether I would like to work as a Teller, at the Dog Races at Olympic Park an a Monday night and at Sandown Park on a Thursday night and then at the Horse Races on a Saturday afternoon and at the Trots at the Show Grounds on a Saturday night, I discussed the opportunity to make some serious part-time money with Joan and agreed as it would take away any financial burdens we had. In order to recall this period of my life, together with my experiences with the Totalizator that calculated the payouts, I have extracted some details of each race course and the history of the company that provided us the Automatic Totalizators, from various internet sites.
Mooney Valley Racecourse:- Founded by the legendary William Sam Cox, racing at Moonee Valley began in 1883 and has since become one of the greatest racetracks in Australia. Its prestige comes from the quality of races the track produces and the quality of the racetrack itself. Located just 6km north of Melbourne CBD, the track offers both horse and harness racing and is home to the Moonee Valley Racing Club.
It is the only Melbourne track to offer night racing which is held on most Friday nights. Often misspelt as Mooney Valley and Moonie Valley, the racetrack hosts three of Australia’s greatest races, the Manikato Stakes, the Australia Stakes and the coveted WS Cox Plate.
Flemington Racecourse:- The Flemington Racecourse is the most popular and oldest metropolitan horse racing track in Australia and the setting for the prestigious Melbourne Cup every first Tuesday of November. The course is located on low alluvial flats with the Maribyrnong River next to it. The low lying field is complemented by the hill surrounding the racetrack so that spectators can get a good view of the race.
The Flemington Racecourse represents the strong Melburnian and Australian heritage.
The first race meeting held in Flemington was on the rough river flats near the Maribyrnong
River in 1840. In 2006, Flemington Racecourse was enlisted in the National Heritage List as a
centre for traditional and cultural celebration and being one of the few sport venues that
displays the passion of a nation.

Sandown Park Race Course:- Racing commenced at Sandown Racecourse in 1965 and was
administered by the Victoria Amateur Turf Club (VATC) which also looked after racing at
Caulfield. The Club started a five 5 year plan in 2001 to establish a second turf track at Sandown
to be known as Hillside, and the existing track to be renamed Lakeside. As part of the plan the
Club also changed from the VATC to become the Melbourne Racing Club. The Sandown
Racecourse Hillside track has a circumference of 2,087 metres and straight of 491 metres,
whilst the Lakeside track has a circumference of 1,857 metres and straight of 407 metres.
The Melbourne Racing Club operates at both Caulfield Racecourse and Sandown Racecourse
and holds 60 plus race meetings each year across the two locations. Which accounts for almost
half of all city racing in Melbourne.

Sandown Park Racecourse is a specialist track. Barriers are not that important here as all starts
there is a good straight to get your mount into a good position. Sandown Racecourse is not
really a front runners track as many are run down by horses coming from well back. There are
many races held at Sandown Racecourse throughout the year with the highlights
being the Sandown Stakes and the Sandown Classic, which used to be known as the
Sandown Cup.

Caulfield Racecourse:- Caulfield Racecourse is located just 8km from the Melbourne CBD
in its south-eastern Suburbs home to the Melbourne Racing Club, it is often called “The Heath”
as the first jockeys to ride through the area had to fight through bush, heath and sand hills.
Proper racing began in 1876 and since then it has grown into a spectacular racecourse featuring
both a horse racing track and a steeple track.

Caulfield hosts the major Caulfield Cup carnival in October and can hold a crowd of 50,000+
people Quite comfortably. Caulfield racecourse was administered by the Victoria Amateur Turf
Club(VATC) The first meeting actually took place at Dowling Forest racecourse in Ballarat
before Caulfield became the permanent home in Melbourne of the Melbourne Racing Club.

The (MRC) operates at both Caulfield and Sandown racecourses and holds 60 plus race
meetings each year across the two locations, which accounts for almost half of all city racing in
Melbourne. The Club started a five 5 year plan in 2001 to establish 20 feature race days at
Caulfield, construct a second turf track at Sandown to be known as Hillside, and the existing
track to be renamed Lakeside, and also a major upgrade of facilities and raining tracks at
Caulfield. As part of the plan the Club also changed from the VATC to become the Melbourne
Racing Club.

Sandown Park Greyhound Race Track:- The Sandown Park Coursing Club (with the late
Jack McKenna as Secretary) began racing on the present Sandown Racecourse in 1935 and
continued there until 1952 with only a two year break during the war. Speed coursing
(live hare) was then conducted at the present site until December 1955.

Dogs being led to Starting Boxes

The Sandown Greyhound Racing Club
commenced ‘mechanical hare’ racing on the
current site on Saturday 8 September 1956
before a crowd of 6,000 and overseeing a
betting ring of 53 bookmakers.

The combined stake money on offer for that first
meeting was $600. To put that fact in perspective,
the field for a modern Melbourne Cup final would
typically boast collective earnings in excess of $1
The original track incorporated a grass
surface, but heavy usage contributed to
maintenance difficulties, resulting in the
decision to change over to a sand track in
964. The introduction of ‘mechanical hare’
racing (more popularly known as the “tin
hare”) at Sandown co-incided with
the most significant change to night
entertainment in that era, the advent of
television. The impact of television
undoubtedly slowed the early growth of the
sport, however greyhound racing received an
enormous boost when TAB betting was introduced in 1966.The introduction of computerised Tote
equipment in 1974 facilitated the launch of
Trifecta betting which proved an instant hit with
punters and to this day accounts for
approximately one half of all on-course

Olympic Park:- A £50,000 investment by the Melbourne Greyhound Racing Association saw
their relocation from Arden St. North Melbourne to a redeveloped Eastern Sportsground in 1962.
On 20 August 1962, 6,000 punters braved the cold for the first meeting. The velodrome was
demolished in 1972, becoming a 800 space carpark, and the following year saw a new $6m
2,200 seat grandstand built for greyhounds, soccer and rugby. The facilities pre-empted the
dishlicker's halcyon days which lasted until the 1980's. Regular crowds of 5000 were also
entertained by athletic races during the Monday night program, as well as promotions tied to
Moomba, glamorous models and various celebrities.

Harness Racing – Melbourne Showgrounds:- Harness racing (the trotter with a diagonal gait and the pacer with a lateral gait) was introduced to Melbourne by American, John Peck, who organised 'American Trotting Races' at Flemington racecourse in January 1860. In 1881 the
Victorian Trotting Club, including the American breeder Dr John Weir, brought the sire
Childe Harold to Melbourne, opening a trotting track
at Elsternwick on 1 April 1882. This venture failed but
John Wren staged harness racing at his proprietary
course in Richmond and by 1910 controlled the sport
under the aegis of the Victorian Trotting and Racing
Association (VTRA), organizing the Melbourne
Thousand, the biggest prize for harness racing to that
time, in the following year.

After the Richmond course was closed in 1931 Wren
moved harness Racing to his Ascot racetrack. The
VTRA amalgamated with the Williamstown Racing
Club to form the Melbourne Racing Club but moved
out of harness racing after the A.L. Government
eliminated proprietary tracks in 1945. The Victorian
Trotting Control Board, a new body established to
regulate harness racing, began night trotting at the
Melbourne Showgrounds on 15 November 1947.

The establishment of off-course totalisator betting in
the 1960s, the televising of Saturday night meetings
in the 1970s, the move to Moonee Valley in 1976, the
promotion of the inter-dominion championship and
great horses like Popular Alm and Gammalite, have
all increased the popularity of the sport.

Automatic Totalisators Limited – Later ATL:- Automatic Totalisators Ltd., a public Company
was formed in 1917 to manufacture, install and operate Totalizators throughout the world. By
1970 with few exceptions, every major racing centre in the world used these Australian
Totalizators, which were in service in 29 countries. The Automatic Totalizator was invented by the
late Mr. George Julius (later Sir George). In 1913 he installed his first totalizator on Ellerslie
Racecourse in N.Z. and the second at Gloucester Park in Western Australia in 1916.

The installation at Ellerslie was the first automatic totalizator in the world and although it looked
like a giant tangle of piano wires, pulleys and cast iron boxes and many racing officials predicted
that it would not work, it was a great success.

These early automatic totalizators were completely mechanical and consisted of Ticket Issuing
Machines coupled to Drum Indicator Adder Units, all housed in the one building for one pool only.
Miles of flexible wire cables connected the Ticket Issuing Machines to the Indicator/Adder Units.
A considerable length of bicycle chain ran over sprockets and heavy cast iron weights were used
for drive power.

In 1917, after the Company was formed further research led to the introduction of electrical
power and the miles of flexible wire cable were replaced by simple electrical conductors which
operated solenoids both in the Ticket Issuing Machine and the Indicator/Adders. This was a
major development because now the Ticket Issuing Machines no longer had to be close to the

By 1920 equipment was installed on a total of seven racetracks in Sydney, Brisbane and
Newcastle in Australia, and Auckland in New Zealand. The equipment was very bulky ,
employing the principle of one Ticket Issuing Machine to one Escapement Wheel, which
limited the number of Ticket
Issuing Machines to the number of
Escapement Wheels it was
possible to build into the combined
Adder Drum Indicator Unit.
Invariably these installations
were confined to one building and
no attempt was made to connect
buildings by underground cable.
The Indicators provided for one
Pool only, but the fields were large.

The Worlds first Automatic

For example, at Randwick, the equipment provided for 42 starters.

At this stage all the equipment was manufactured at Mr. Julius' home in Darling Point, Sydney.
Until the early 1920s the equipment was made for one Pool only and when you went on a
racetrack you bet on the "Tote". The net Pool was divided up into three parts giving the winner
60 % and each of the 2nd and 3rd horses 20 %. At this stage there was a separate tote in each
enclosure, not connected in any way with each other, so that, where three enclosures existed,
as at Randwick, three different sets of dividends were declared.

In 1922 the old single "Tote" was superseded when Win & Place pools were created and the
same Year the first Totalizator equipment for Win & Place betting was installed in Perth,
Western Australia. From then on, with few exceptions, all racecourses installed Win & Place
equipment. The Ticket issuing Machines were divided so that some sold Win and others sold
Place. The method of calculating the dividend for the Place pool was such that the total money
invested on the placed horses was taken out of the net pool and the remainder was divided by
the number of dividends to be declared and this figure was divided by the units bet on each
placed horse. During the next ten years the Company installed equipment on 27 racecourses
in India, Ceylon, Malaysia, Singapore, France, New Zealand and Canada. The biggest order
during this period was equipment for Longchamp, Paris, in 1926, and this was the largest order
undertaken by the Company until the order for Caracas, Venezuela in 1957, over 30 years later.

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.
Up till this time, only pool figures were displayed to the public but, in 1927, Mr. Julius came to
light with automatic odds, which was probably the biggest milestone in the Company's existence.
Models of this type of equipment were taken to London and North and South America. In 1930,
Automatic Odds Equipment was installed at Harringay Dog Track in London, and the following
year Automatic Odds Barometer Indicators were installed at Flemington, Caulfield, Moonee
Valley and at Williamstown Racecourses in Victoria, Australia. It is as well to point out here that
at this stage legislation had only just been passed to permit totalizator betting in the State of
Victoria and that these installations were done in the middle of the depression years and
represented the largest single bulk order from a group of racecourses. During this period an
associate company, Totalisators Ltd, was formed in London to manufacture, install and operate
totalizators in the United Kingdom, Europe and Africa.

On the first installation at Harringay Dog Track, in London, odds were displayed on a Digital
Indicator and a pointer, like the hands of a watch, indicating the odds on the particular starter.
The mechanical analogue Odds Computer was an ingenious device which undoubtedly put the
company in the forefront as Totalizator Engineers.

Immediately after the depression, Automatic Odds installations went to India, New Zealand and
right throughout Australia. The first installation in the United States was made in 1932, when
equipment was installed at Hialeah Racetrack in Miami, Florida. The second world war in the late
1930s put an end to totalizator manufacture and installation for almost 10 years. During the war
years the factory, which had moved to Chalmers Street Sydney in 1933, went into full production
for the Department of Defence and later the company expanded the munitions work to include

The knowledge gained in general manufacture and tooling during the war years was to serve the
company in good stead immediately after the war, when it threw all its resources into tooling and
manufacture of new totalizator equipment. In later years, when tote tooling work eased off, the
toolroom turned to commercial work. This side of the business expanded rapidly until, the
company had one of the largest commercial tool rooms in the southern hemisphere established
on their premises at Meadowbank.

The Meadowbank Factory
In late 1945, the company started in earnest to design totalizator equipment for post war use and,
At this time, the J8 ticket issuing machine was born. The J8 proved to be a durable addition to
the Automatic Totalisators terminal range. Up until October 1995, The Royal Turf Club of
Thailand continued to use J8s as the on-course ticket issuing machine. Along with the ticket
issuing machines, there was need fo r new designs in Mechanical Analogue Computers, Adders,
Odds Relay Units and Indicators. The factory therefore, continued on at war time tempo for many
years, in an attempt to fulfill the orders that kept rolling in. The company moved to the factory at
Meadowbank in 1947.

A J8 Ticket Issuing Machine

The first batch of J8 Win, Place ticket
Issuing machines was installed on
Randwick Race Course in 1948. The
delivery of these ticket issuing machines
to Randwick released a quantity of the
existing J6 ticket issuing machines for
despatch, along with some 2-shaft adding
units, to the United States for use at
Randall Park Racetrack. This was a
stop gap move and in 1950 the company
installed new equipment on this racetrack.
That same year an associate company,
Automatic Totalisators (U.S.A.) Ltd. was
formed to purchase equipment from the
parent company and lease it to racetrack
operations in the U.S.A.
This Company became a subsidiary and by 1967 the company had 23 operations in the United
States and Canada. In 1948 the first mobile tote was manufactured, and was used in the
Sydney metropolitan and near country areas. In later years many more of these units were

At this time the company entered the busiest period of manufacture and installation in its life.
Simultaneously it was manufacturing and installing equipment for racetracks in India,
South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, North and South America. In all, it installed equipment in
99 race tracks throughout the world between 1948 and 1955. The bulk of this equipment was for
Win, Place pools only.

At this stage, it catered for doubles and quinella pools with small fields only, but very soon after
was confronted with the possibility of having to provide equipment for 24 starter fields.

The first real challenge came when all the Melbourne racetracks wanted
combination pool equipment. In 1955 the company conceived the idea of
using the principle of punched tape for recording investments on these
pools and, in 1956 the company provided equipment in Melbourne using
newly designed J10 24 starter ticket issuing machines, along with
punched tape recorder and electronic readers. This equipment marked
another milestone in the history of progress and within several years,
this punched tape combination betting equipment was installed in South
Africa, Malaysia, Singapore, and every capital city in Australia.

The company advanced into the sixties installing conventional
Equipment throughout the world, with the betting trend swinging more
towards the combination betting pools than ever. Public indication of the
state of betting in these pools had always been a problem. At Harold
Park, the company installed a quinella indicator with 66 combinations,
that is, quinella odds for 12 starters. In 1964 the company took over
Bell Punch New Zealand Ltd purchasing all their equipment in the field, taking over the
operation of all their installations and this company was later known as New Zealand
Totalisators Limited.

Automatic infield lamp box odds indicators were installed in 1965 on all the Melbourne
metropolitan racecourses, including the new racecourse at Sandown Park. In some cases
the barometer indicators were retained, and the company designed the equipment to allow
these indicators to work in parallel with the lamp box indicators. Here the company had a
link of the old with the new, namely the 1931barometer indicators and the 1965 odds
lamp boxes.

New control, access and aggregating equipment was also supplied to Melbourne and
installed in an air conditioned van which moved from track to track. At the race track, the
equipment was plugged into the racetrack facilities, plus an off-course console which
allowed the off-course investments to be stored in the van so that, for odds and dividend
calculations, the off-course investments could be added to the on-course investments.

In 1966 Automatic Totalisators Ltd took the racing industry into the electronic era with the
Development of the World's First Computer Totalizator System, for the New York Racing
Association, which handled a totalizator turnover each season of over $700 million. This
System had 550 type J11 Ticket Issuing Machines, two Infield Lamp Box type Indicators
and twenty Auxiliary Odds Lamp Box Indicators. This installation was the culmination of
many years of research and development. The equipment was portable and was moved
from Aqueduct to Belmont Park and Saratoga, the northern tip of New York State, where a
smaller operation was conducted making a total of 234 race day operations per year.
Premier Equipment Pty Ltd, a subsidiary maintained and operated the equipment for all
234 race meetings.

Inspired by the success at Aqueduct, further research and development led to a more
Compact and economical Electronic Totalizator System using small General Purpose
Computers with all the features of the Aqueduct system. This new electronic totalizator
made its debut in November, 1968 at a harness track in Georgetown, Delaware, U.S.A.,
and at Happy Valley racecourse, Hong Kong. The last Julius Totalizator ceased operation
at Harringay London in 1987.

The 1960’s were exciting times with all the rapid changes taking place in technology both at
Work and on the racetracks where I worked. I continued to work at the races until I was
promoted to Holmesglen as Deputy Internal Auditor and we found that my salary together
with Joans’ salary as a registered Nurse working at the Grace McKellar Hospital was
sufficient to cover all our outgoings. I worked hard to complete my accounting studies and
finally finished in 1972 and was admitted as an Associate of the Australian Society of Accountants.

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