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The Penny Arcade

 The Coin Operated Machine Information Site 

.                                                     The BDR/BMR Collection





Mr Brecknell took over the family foundry business in the mid 1860's but he was already involved with another engineering firm at that time for Brecknell ,Dolman and Rogers ltd had been founded in 1859. Brecknell continued to run the foundry on his own until 1877 when he took in two partners ,Rogers from  BDR and a new man on the scene Munro to form Brecknell Munro and Rogers.


                                                                early photo of the workforce at BMR

Later the two companies merged under the name Bracknell,Dolman and Rogers but the other name was still used in places . So it was Brecknell who was the linking thread in the early days ,however it was to be H.L Dolman OBE (1897-1977) a second generation Dolman in the business who was the prime mover in the companies success and the eventual sole owner.

He was a talented engineer and draftsman  who designed and  patented  many machines for the company . Although the company made eleven slot machines and a host of other coin operated machines (notably cigarette machines) their main business ,and the one that made them most money was their ...butter wrapping machines! This was their "bread and butter" (excuse the pun) division  and they led the world in this field winning gold medals for the machines as late as 1958. This single machine success gave them ,like other slot machine companies, the funds to expand into other fields. They had great success with turnstiles for the London underground ,stamp vending machines, their very popular and recognisable cigarette machines as well as a wide range of none coin operated food machines including their "egg orientation machine" (??) The workforce expanded to over 1000 during the 1920's

H.I. Rogers,who was a prime mover in turning the cigarette vending machine business into a massive earner for the company died suddenly in 1928. The booklet below was produced after his death to celebrate his life and achievements . click on the photo to read the booklet.


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                                   Cigarette Vendors, pub style and the very recognisable  railway station style

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                                    coin op mech patent                                               London underground turnstile patent 

Their range of slot machines pretty much all follow the same design as far as can be seen, for if they made 11 machines some are unknown at present. One Callie type spinning disc machine hints at being BMR but there is no proof as yet.


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                     Early Brooklands                                                    The stainless "Breadbin"         

Dolman himself designed the mech for the slots using three  horizontal spinning reels rather than the usual vertical reels common on bandit style machines. Simple in operation in places and complex in others the machines were made to a high standard and tolerance, (the coin accepter is a joy to watch, see video).



Harry always keen to try something new built a one man aircraft called "the Flying Flea" and almost managed to kill himself on the first flight. He managed to master it in time and flew it until the Government banned the model in the late 1930's. Harry's plane is now in Bristol museum.



                                                                     Harry's "Flying Flea"  

             Early (1920's photo of a fancy dress party given for the staff, the man marked in red was

            Mr Wilfred Gregory who worked for the company for a considerable time ,he also appears in the tank photo

    our thanks to Mr Gregorys's grandson for letting us use this rare photo and the information in the H.I Rogers booklet



                During ww2 the company did their part for the war effort  making parts for tanks   

                                                                in Swineford near Bath


                                               BDR workers with one of the tanks they built parts for


In 1956 and again in 1961 the company were displaying their amusement machines at London trade shows.

In 1954 they produced a world leading vending machine, The Vendol, this machine could vend eight different products at different prices using a rotary carousel system, this caused quite a stir in the USA making the makers there think again about the design of their machines.

In 1969 Harry Dolman decided to retire at the age of 73 ,it was a timely move. At the time BDR were turning a tidy £400,000 per year profit

 He sold out to the precision parts maker Vokes, who made, among other things, aircraft parts. 



Almost at once the new owners found that the cost of converting and re tooling to accommodate  decimalisation forced the company into a £400,000 loss!

The workforce dropped from 1600 to around 800 and the losses continued for the next three years at which point Vokes sold out to  to Tillings. The only reason anyone can imagine they did this  was that Vokes couldn't afford the redundancy payments needed if they closed the factory down. Tillings took one look at the business, tried to sell parts of it off, couldn't and closed the whole thing down. No one can be sure what kind of deal went on behind the scenes during this period but the outcry was enough to force a debate in parliament on the closing down of BDR when it appeared at the time the company was doing well.


There was some attempt to save the factory building in later years but it was eventually demolished and the site is now a shopping area.

Harry, having made a nice sum from selling the company continued to follow his other interest, Bristol City football club where he was chairman and later president until his death in 1977. His wife continues to this day as president of the club and in 2017 the street outside the ground was re named after her


                           Marina Dolman at the dedication of the street named after her 2017

                                                              BDR/BMR Machines    



       This rare BDR machine was called the "Skill Adda" and was unusual in that it only paid out if you used the skill                                                                 stop button,just letting it run locked out the payout


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                                                                                 Brooklands consoles 


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                                      Early Brooklands                                                          the larger cased Breadbin


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                                       BDR on original stand


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               Company long service and national service badges                                            BDR slot token