Horace Batchelor, Department 1, Keynsham, spelt K-E-Y-N-S-H-A-M, Keynsham, Bristol

Two Lotteries Acts – 1934 and 1956 – had made national lottery games illegal in the UK. Small, local lotteries could be run, but under very tight rules. Successive governments disapproved of gambling, permitting it only on-course and in members clubs. The only notable exception was football.

The football pools were – and are, they still exist, although they’re no somewhat overshadowed by other forms of gambling – were felt to be harmless. The stakes were small and the payouts were generally small too – the huge wins were rare enough to be national news. The system of pools agents, collecting the coupons and dispersing the prizes, was seen as a good thing, keeping a national game local. And if the the pools didn’t exist, then there was a big possibility that the people would start betting between themselves, or with local back-street bookies, and that would be A Bad Thing.

The pools also required skill, which wasn’t necessary in straight betting on the results of a match, with the person playing using previous form to work out the likely wins, draws and losses each week. This was much more like on-course horserace betting, which suited the great and the good better than the thought of someone betting next week’s rent on a single game.

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Horace Batchelor’s Infra Draw method, however, didn’t use form or or any other method of predicting outcomes. Instead, it was more like modern spread betting. People who joined would send their coupon and stake to him, and he’d fill in the coupons. His method rarely won huge payouts, but was pretty well guaranteed to result in a constant stream of small payouts – certainly enough to pay for next week’s entry.

His main outlet for advertising was Radio Luxembourg, and he recorded the advertisements himself, in the (correct) belief that presenting himself as an ordinary guy who had just happened to developed a method he wanted to share with other ordinary guys would be a good sell.

His operation was based in Keynsham, a town halfway between Bristol and Bath that nobody except its residents had heard of. It’s one of those British towns designed to confuse foreigners – the spelling and the pronunciation only having a tangental relationship with each other – joining such mouthbenders as Kirkcudbright, Leominster, Alnwick, Bicester and the kings of these towns, Shrewsbury.

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Add that to Radio Luxembourg’s famous fade and the vagaries of medium wave transmission, and you’ve got to spell the town’s name out to ensure your post gets to you. With the adverts in constant rotation on Luxembourg, the line “Keynsham – K-E-Y-N-S-H-A-M – Keynsham” became famous, and people still know the joke of saying it, even though most will have no idea at all what the joke is about.

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