The Bookie's Runner

On the corner of Waltham and Paisley

By Ted Blowers

I remember the bookie and his runner that used to stand on the corner of Waltham and Paisley. You didn't normally see the bookie untill payout time,.Watching the cops and the bookie's runner was a great source of amusment for a lot of us. On one occasion, the runner, who shall be nameless, was being pursued by a cop up Waltham Road and towards Tichfield Road - diving into Jefferies' gate as they had a corner lot. Don, who I worked with, had just got home. He let the runner in, locked the gate and went back indoors through the kitchen. The copper who arrived seconds later couldn't open the gate and was pounding on the front door. It took ages for Don to open it - apparently he was on the toilet. Meanwhile, the runner had leapt over the back garden fences ( they were like steeple chasers some of them) or he was tucked up in someone's house. Anyway about fifteen minutes later he came riding up from the bottom of Waltham Road on a bike as large as life, all the evidence safely gone, and talking to the women who were about like nothing had happened.

We lived at 91 Waltham Road and my wife had come from a small country town where nothing like this ever happend. It was the highlight of her day when the cops were after the bookie. I also found I had to interpret some of the lanuage and banter that went on between the cops and some of the women, who failed to see why they would be wasting their time chasing some bloke who they considered was doing no harm, when there were real crooks about. It used to get quite fierce at times with the cop threatening to run them in if they didn't be quiet - only to be answered with "You and whose army?". Great fun.

Another thing the bookies used to do when they had a really good runner who had been nicked before (I think three times became a bit more than a misdemeanour) - if they got a tipoff that the cops were going to be about, they would ask one of the local likely lads (of which there were plenty) to stand in for a couple of days. They would pay  a small amount a day though not small to us. I think it was about thirty bob and of course, if and when you were nicked they would pay the fine. They were wonderful days the like of which I doubt we will see again.

This page was added by Ted Blowers on 08/07/2012.
Comments about this page

Elijah Thacker known as Sandy was a street bookmaker in Canterbury Road. He lived in Hazelwood Ave. I was a paper boy in the newsagents called Bellamys' in Central Road. Along from them was a fish and chip shop. One night I was in there with my mate John Teddy Allen who lived in Cerne Road . Sandy was at the front of the queue chatting away and I said to Ted I deliver his papers. Sandy turned round and said to me do you deliver my morning papers ? When I said that I did he turned to the man behind the counter and said " I will pay for his fish and chips. He later bought the fish shop and opened a betting shop. He was a short smart man who went bright red whenever he laughed. He came from Greenwich.

By John Taylor
On 16/10/2013

My mums brother Fred used to be a bookies runner on the corner of Waltham Rd, and Paisley Rd about 1956/57, with his mate Blondie. My Nan lived in 111 Tintern Rd, and on a Saturday my mum and my nan used to do their 2 bob e/w bets then get me to take them round to Uncle Fred on my bike. If my mum had any winnings to come, my u/ Fred would come round to our prefab and pay her out on Sunday morning, he used to come round quite a lot, so she must have done alright.good days ay.

By Les Furnell
On 21/11/2013

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