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Bookies Runners Clock

Bookies Runners Clock

Runners clocks like this were used in bookies from the 1920s until the 1960s.

At that time, the only way to place a bet on the horses or dogs was by either placing it on the racetrack, or with a bookmaker. 

A ‘clock’ was a stopwatch in a solid steel case and one, or two, very stout canvass bags with concertina metal openings that could be locked to the case with a sharp snap. The betting slips were put in the bag before the start of the race, the bag was locked in and this started one of the stopwatches.

The clock, when full, was then taken by a 'runner' to the bookmaker’s office and exchanged for another. The bookmaker, who had the only key, could then unlock the clock and check that bets had been placed before the start of races.

In the 1960s, when the gambling act came into force, this type of betting became illegal and runners clocks were no longer used.

You can read about the experiences of a Black Country bookies runner on the Quarry Bank History site

Year: 1930

Ref: 1978/068/001

Theme: Domestic and Cultural Life

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