OldCiren - Cirencester, Gloucestershire, UK
Watching the Lottery results on TV recently, got me thinking about the time back before the Lottery started in 1994. Back then, almost everyone I knew, did what was simply referred to as "The Pools" each week. The dream was the same as winning the Lottery; the hope of winning a life changing fortune for small outlay. The Pools were cheap to enter, with the potential to win a very large sum of money. I remember in 1961 a woman called Viv Nicholson hit the Nationals News with a win of £152.319; equivalent to £3 million today. Some readers may remember Mrs Nicholson famously said she was going to "Spend, Spend, Spend " and promptly did so on Fur coats, cars and holidays before being declared bankrupt in 1968.
The pools entry money was either posted in each week or collected by local Agents who operated on a commission according to how much they collected. I could never understand how the pools actually worked, but I did know that to win a lot of money you had to get “8 draws on a line”; a phrase loosely interpreted at many of the Regal Cinema fancy dress events, and the likes of Butlins holiday Camps in the 1960's, as ”Eight pairs of Drawers on a line” .
As well as the National Pools organisations such as Littlewoods, Vernons and Zetters, there were also local organisations that competed for the punters' fraction of a penny a line, but in a much smaller way. In the Ciren area the local pools organisation was the “Wye Valley” from Ross-on -Wye. You could post your entry to the Wye valley, but most people gave their entry to the collector who would call at your house each week. I remember a number of winners in Ciren and like Bingo winners in the town, were reported in the Standard with a photograph of them receiving a cheque.