Having a bet in the old days

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Thread Topic: Having a bet in the old days
Topic Originator: Mike Laughton
Post Date May 11, 2011 @ 7:36 AM
 Having a bet in the old days
  Having a bet/leather bag
 RE: Having a bet in the old days
 Having a bet/illegal card schools
 Having bet/"Mum Mortified"
 Having a bet/punishment

Mike Laughton
May 11, 2011 @ 7:36 AM Reply  |  Email  |  Print  |  Top

Betting shops have only been around since May 1st 1961. Before that you could only have a bet on the racecourse or by telephone if you had an account with a licensed bookmaker.
But everybody still had their bets on the Grand National and the Derby as they do today.
How did they do it?
Well every factory had a bookies runner with whom you could place bets and every town had two or three "illegal" bookmakers. Although this kind of betting off-course was supposedly illegal, it was a law that was ignored by everyone including the police, many of whom had a bet themselves. This is why the law was eventually changed and licensed betting shops began. Stamford's first betting shop was Cracknells in Red Lion Street.
The "illegal" betting industry threw up some colourful local characters with equally exotic names.
At Ketton Cement Works, the bookie's runner was a chap called Milky Plummer.
And older Stamfordians will remember a street corner bookie called Levi Downs.
But the most popular local "bookie" was Pop Harvey (Harold Harvey's dad) who used to take bets at his cake shop and bakery on the corner of All Saints' Street and Scotgate. I've lost count of the number of times as a boy that I went to Harveys with coins wrapped in a piece of paper so that dad or other family members could have their "Thruppence each way".
Pop Harvey was a nice old guy who always wore an eye patch. I assume he lost an eye in World War One. In those days there were several elderly trademen in Stamford carrying severe injuries from the Great War. (Another was Mr Carpenter who operated a tailors business in St Peter's Street next to Harpers the Plummer.He had lost a leg almost up to his hip and always walked on crutches).
Harold Harvey went to Uppingham School and in more recent years I would pull his leg by saying to him: "Your posh education was paid for by the proceeds of illegal gambling."
The opening of legal betting shops spelt the death knell for the "illegal" bookies although many applied for licences and opened betting shops themselves.

May 11, 2011 @ 7:43 PM Reply  |  Email  |  Print  |  Top

That brought back memories, I worked at Blackstones and the runner there was 'Chicken' Costen (right name, wrong spelling, sorry) he had a sealed leather bag to put the money in but could only be opened by the bookie.
Just on the betting theme, there used to be card schools at various places around town with a lookout man, who they all payed thru'pence each to, as card gambling was illegal too.

ian haggerty
May 26, 2011 @ 7:06 PM Reply  |  Email  |  Print  |  Top

Hi Mike, I remember cracknells very well having lost quite a few pounds in there over the years!! Jean used to work in there and ran it with a guy with a beard(anyone know his name)? I remember they used to mark the boards up with felt tips!! Few of the characters who went in there, The professor, Sticky glue,The runner Wobbly John.  The commentary was relayed via speakers, so when racing was on tv it would be a trip to the Marsh Harrier for a pint. Happy days

Clem Walden
May 28, 2011 @ 1:00 AM Reply  |  Email  |  Print  |  Top

Hi Syd good call about the illegal card schools in days gone bye, one such card school would take place at the back of old Bowmans In the Priory Meadow, I name a few of those that took part in the late 40s early 50s and still recall the odd shilling or two I received for acting as a look out at odd times. Did your Dad ever play? Patsty Weldon did  so did my Dad and his brother Wenny along with several others who worked at Blackstones and the Brickyard at the time. Those I name have all long since passed away.  Fond Memories Syd thanks for reminding me about those illegal card schools.

May 28, 2011 @ 6:07 PM Reply  |  Email  |  Print  |  Top

Hi Clem, yes Dad was caught behind Priory Road with others, he appeared in court, he said he tried to make a bit of money, 'cause "the missus took all his wages", Mum was mortified and fuming at that.

Clem Walden
May 29, 2011 @ 9:26 PM Reply  |  Email  |  Print  |  Top

Hi Syd, all I will say he was not alone money was very short and all tried to make a little more by gambling to feed us. I understand the punishment for such illegal activities then were not to harsh. So I was told.