Computer Science

First Automatic Totalisator: More Details of Tote House

The building in which the totalisator machinery was housed was built in 1906 to house Ellerslie's first course-wide manual totalisator that was known as the "ten shilling tote." Here is a view of the building in April 1907 ("Sporting Review", from Auckland Public Library, Sir George Gray Collection):

Click the thumbnail to see the original image.

The new machine required that the building be extensively altered, in particular with a second story in the middle. We know the appearance and layout of the tote house entirely from the photographic record. The image in the main page is taken from the history of the Auckland Racing Club, "A Noble Breed" by William Mackie. There are two other photos known. This is from a 1930s ATL booklet:

Click the thumbnail to see the original image.

The following is from the history of the Australian Jockey Club, "The Premier Club". We can see the fences used for crowd-control and the horse numbers are clear:

Click the thumbnail to see the original image.

The New Zealand National film archive has a short piece of old film that gives a glimpse of the tote house in operation (this might have been while it was still used as a manual totalisator - the film is dated as 1912, though what we can see of the display does look like the new machine): Movie.

This tote house did not last much longer. The machine was soon replaced by an improved post-war model, housed in a new building. (ATL records show the ARC receiving machines in 1918 and 1922.) The final machine had two rows of 15 horse totals rather than 3 rows of 10. The new building is still in place, though not housing the totalisator nowadays. (Notice that the same fence seems to separate the public from the members - perhaps this is evidence that the first building was completely removed and replaced by the new building in the same place.)

New tote building at Ellerslie
(Click the thumbnail to see the original image)

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