“K-E-Y-N-S-H-A-M” …. “Most people had never heard of the place – But millions could spell it”

“K-E-Y-N-S-H-A-M” …. “Most people had never heard of the place – But millions could spell it”

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“K-E-Y-N-S-H-A-M” …. “Most people had never heard of the place – But millions could spell it”
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Keynsham was the fourth album by the Bonzo Dog Band, originally released in 1969. In 2007 the album was re-issued on CD by EMI with 5 bonus tracks. The bonus tracks were not actually performed by the The Bonzo Dog Band, but were from later solo projects performed by individual members of the group.

The album title is a reference to Horace Batchelor, a football pools predictor who regularly advertised his service on Radio Luxembourg in the early 1960s. He would spell out the town’s name carefully and deliberately when giving his contact details. The album starts with a quote from Horace Batchelor’s radio advertisement "I have personally won …"

Keynsham is a small town near Bristol in south-west England. The name of the album was almost certainly derived from an advertisement on Radio Luxembourg for a dubious method of forecasting results for football matches (and using these results in football pools). In the advertisement, which was of great length, Horace Batchelor, inventor of ‘the amazing Infra Draw method’, would repeatedly spell K-E-Y-N-S-H-A-M for those listeners who wished to purchase his secret.

HORACE BATCHELOR OF KEYNSHAM 1960s
MILLIONS HEARD HIS RADIO ADVERTS ON RADIO LUXEMBOURG. BUT NOW IN HIS OWN TOWN – HE’S VIRTUALLY UNKNOWN.

By Hugo Berger – Bristol Chronicle

Horace Batchelor was born in 1898 at Bedminster, just south of Bristol, but seems to have lived most of his life in obscurity – though its known he was something of an artist, with a particular skill in water colours.

"K-E-Y-N-S-H-A-M" …. "Most people had never heard of the place – But millions could spell it".

KEYNSHAM became a familiar household name to millions of Radio Luxembourg listeners across Europe in the 1950s and 1960s — thanks to a local betting expert.

Self-styled "football pools king" Horace Batchelor helped punters win a total of more than £12 million between 1948 and 1971 at a time when £75,000 was a fortune and his series of radio ads always mentioned mentioned Keynsham, which Horace would then spell out.

Customers followed his unique "infra draw" tip system, which forecast which matches would be drawn in the pools.

He put the otherwise little-known town on the map by spelling out its name letter by letter so listeners would address their applications correctly when ordering tips by post.

His ads included genial patter such as: "Hello, friends — this is Horace Batchelor, the inventor of the fabulous Infra-Draw system. You too can start to win really worthwhile dividends using my method."

Members of the system clubbed together to enter very large permutations with a good chance of winning the pools and then sharing the takings — though each individual only received a small fraction of each big windfall.

Horace himself set a world record by personally netting more than 30 first dividends and thousands of second and third dividends.

Some pools firms including Littlewoods, refused to accept entries from him because of his ‘constant successes’. Before his pools system took off he was an insurance collector, fancy goods shop owner and a Fry’s chocolate factory worker at Keynsham.

During his heyday up to 5.000 orders a day were delivered via Keynsham to his office in Old Market, Bristol. His first major pools win came in 1948 when he was presented with £11,321 at Bedminster’s Rex Cinema —part of the biggest dividend then paid by Sherman’s Pools.

It also included £45,000 which he shared with syndicate members. – By 1955 he had won enough to live in luxury, running three cars and puffing cigars in an 18-room house. He later retired to a 27-bedroom ‘Batchelor pad’ in Bath Road, Saltford, a small village just outside of Keynsham, which he named "Infra -Grange" after his system.

Big budget

His business grew to the extent that he became one of Radio Luxembourg’s heaviest advertisers, alongside shampoo brands Stayblonde and Brunitex. In his 1960s heyday he was spending more than £50,000 a year on plugs on the station.

He also hosted four weekly Luxembourg shows, two of which featured comedian Tommy Tinder and crooner Mario Lanza. Interviewed by our sister paper the Bath Chronicle in 1964, he said "Success came to me relatively late in life but I still enjoy it."

Some pools firms including Littlewoods, refused to accept entries from him because of his "constant successes". Before his pools system took off he was an insurance collector, fancy goods shop owner and a Fry’s chocolate factory worker at Keynsham.

He also set up as an independent cigarette manufacturer in Bristol – a brave move in a city which was home to tobacco giants such as Wills. His non-nicotine, cut-price Batchelor brand had seven secret ingredients and a low – if any – tobacco content.

His business grew to the extent that he became one of Radio Luxembourg’s heaviest advertisers, alongside shampoo brands Stayblonde and Brunitex. In his 1960s heyday he was spending more than £50,000 a year on plugs on the station.

He also hosted four weekly Luxembourg shows, two of which featured comedian Tommy Tinder and crooner Mario Lanza. Interviewed by newspaper the Bath Chronicle in 1964, he said ‘Success came to me relatively late in life but I still enjoy it.’

Batchelor died in January 1977 in hospital in Bath, aged 78.

He was cremated at Arno’s Vale Cemetery in Brislington, and his ashes were scattered in the grounds. Following the ceremony the Union flag flew at halfmast at Keynsham Conservative Club, where he played snooker.

Pools enquires continued to come in and his civil servant son John handled these as a sideline.

His common-law wife Elsie Pomroy, then 79, complained she had only been left £5,000 in his £148,000 will. She claimed she had been a slave for him for 41 years" and that this sum was insufficient even to repair the couple’s home at Infra Grange, Saltford.

Mr Batchelor’s estranged wife Eveline, then living in Knowle, Bristol was left the income from one third of his estate but did not attend his funeral. She said at the time: "I have not seen him for years and I have not lived with him for over 30 years."

Infra Grange became the Long Reach nursing home after Mr Batchelor’s death. Owner Barry Cole converted it into a guest house in 1997.

RADIO LUXEMBOURG – nicknamed Fab 208 after ts broadcasting wavelength of 208 metres – is warmly remembered by generations of radio listeners across Britain and Europe.

Many youngsters listened to Luxembourgs crackly transmissions of their favorite late-night pop shows on tinny transistors or home-made cat’s whiskers radios while huddled under their bedclothes.

The station started broadcasting from the Duchy of Luxembourg in 1933 and ended transmissions to Britain on December 31st 1992.

Shortly before being cut off. the UK’s already patchy reception of Luxembourg had worsened because of a change of transmitter.

The stations peak audience was on Sunday nights in the 1960s. when it broadcast the top 20 pop hits.

Radio Luxembourg held the British monopoly on radio advertising until the pirate station boom of the 1960s and the subsequent deregulation of commercial radio.

If you are under 55 the name Batchelor will be a mystery to you !

FROM Scotland to Cornwall mention to anyone over a certain age the name Horace Batchelor , and they will immediately retort "Keynsham-spelt K-E-Y-N-S-H-A-M.".

But a survey in Keynsham by the Observer newspaper has found that despite the football pools expert being part of radio folklore, youngsters in the town were left shrugging their shoulders when asked who he was.

Of the numerous residents in their late teens or twenties interviewed by the Observer, only a handful had heard of him.

For example Alison Fry 29. of Furley Road. said: "No. I’ve never heard of him Who is he ?"

When John Orchard 20 of Lytes Cary Road was told Batchelor had put the town on the map in his heyday he said: "I didn’t think Keynsham has ever been on the map."

Laura Duckett. 24. of Bath Road said: "I’ve heard of the name, but I don’t really know who he is".

And Paula Horlock. 25 also of Bath Road, said: "I think I have heard of him. – He was something to do with Radio Luxembourg".

Sally Harding aged 16 from Keynsham "Not sure did he manufacture tin peas?"

But when the Observer rang people across the country, a majority of people of the baby boom generation were very familiar with Batchelor’s name.

Christine Kinder, 56. of Polseath. Cornwall said: "I used to listen to Radio Luxembourg because, before Radio One. it was the only station that played the good "rock’n’roll music".

And Ron Wilson. 63. of Glasgow. said: "I can certainly remember the adverts on Radio Luxembourg. They were on several times aday. – I never took advantage of his system because I am not a gambling man".

In Wales, Aberystwyth town clerk Jim Griffiths said: "I don’t remember the spelling of Keynsham but I can remember Horace Batchelor well".

But in a office survey of the Observer and our sister paper the Western Daily Press, resulted in an instant spell-out-Keynsham chorus and reminiscences of Cat Whiskers radios.

Yet despite Horace’s fame across the UK you will not find a single memorial to the pools expert in the town of Keynsham.

Local town councillor Keith kerwin said a few years ago he tried to get a street in a new development named after Batchelor . "Everyone was aghast I had even suggested this and got shouted down. I think a lot of people think he was a nasty piece of work". he said.

But Keynsham Civic Society chairwoman Iris Lerpiniere remembered him more fondly. She used to travel on the same bus as him and from 1948 to 1950 shopped at the stall at Bath Market which he ran before making his fortune She said. ‘He was a very jolly man. He made a good win on the pools and he continued to make a happy living. The women who worked for him had a very high regard for him".

Horace Batchelor’s Radio Luxembourg programme led to Keynsham being regarded as something of a joke town for British people who used to listen to Radio Luxembourg at the time, and this reputation lingered. It was the reason why the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band named an album after the town. The same group gave Horace a mention in ‘The Intro and The Outro’ track from their ‘Gorrilla’ LP

After Batchelor’s there was a debate over whether anyone had won any money, some claiming that over 23 years punters had made £12m, Radio Luxembourg itself suggesting no one had become rich.

So despite Mr Batchelor making a small market town in Somerset a household name to millions…. It seems his memory is slowly fading away.