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Bookies at


Brooklands by Tony Hutchings


Bookie ‘Long Tom’ (with the ticket in his hat band) at Brooklands (Brooklands Society Archive).


t’s a lovely summer’s morning in 1907. Having walked from the railway station it’s time to get one’s money ready to pay the half- crown entry fee to the spectators’ enclosure over- looking the Track. An extra shilling will be needed for a race card or programme. Once in place the view is spectacular with the course curving away into the distance and the Paddock, in the foreground, a scene of feverish activity. To the left the Paddock stalls house the contestants, all being looked after by their attendants. With racing due to start within 30 minutes it’s time to have a look at the race card and understand the programme of events, beginning with the Marcel Renault Memorial Plate and ending with the Stevenson Plate. To help both the spectators and the Stewards identify the contestants, each is wearing unique coloured smocks, very much like jockeys' silks, with all the colour combinations of coats, sleeves and caps described in the pro- gramme. As the racing progresses, spectators are kept informed by the results of each race being run up on a Scoreboard in the Paddock. For the winners, the prize money, declared in sovereigns, is generous. Spectators with a gambling streak might also win a prize from the bookmakers who have set themselves up against the railings in the Paddock and on the Members’ Hill enclosures. Now fully informed, one is ready for a satisfying afternoon at the races. You may well ask at which Surrey race course was all this taking place – Sandown Park, Hurst Park or Kempton Park? In fact none of them, as we are at the Brooklands Motor Course at Weybridge where the overwhelming influence of horse racing tradition and administration domi- nated its early years. This was really no surprise as the Brooklands Automobile Racing Club, founded in December 1906, to administer the


I 34


Track, included many horse racing owners on its committee who were also members of the Jockey Club. Amongst them were the Dukes of Beaufort and Westminster as well as the President, Lord Lonsdale. Hugh Owen, the ex-starter of the Jockey Club, was engaged to start the racing cars. The newly appointed Clerk of the Course, Ernst de Rodakowski, sought the advice of Joseph Davis, the Managing Director of the nearby Hurst Park race course in West Molesey, which had opened in 1890, with regard to the layout of the Track and its associated buildings in early November 1906. No wonder therefore that the futuristic motor course had many similarities with the traditional horse racing course.


Long Tom again – possibly paying out some winnings (Brooklands Museum).


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