The story of David Bellis MBE. Part 2. ‘Coin Payout’ – where it all began

The first edition of our David Bellis MBE blog has told of his colourful education and the story of his increasing interest in the world of engineering.

Having safely returned home from National Service and with experience in both mechanical and electrical engineering, David moved back to Northern England, Yorkshire to be more precise, where he began work for Gap Units, based in Batley. Gap Units produced a component to install into boilers in order to make them more efficient, as well as furthering his knowledge and skill in precision engineering, this period in David’s life also saw him produce his first coin payout machines quite by chance.

In his leaky garage, David kept a milling machine that he used to make components for Gap Units. One of David’s friends at the time saw the work that he was doing in his garage and referred him to his boss, who wanted Italian 50 Lira coin payouts converted to the British penny. David perceived these payout units to be of a poor design so decided to update the units and then design a payout of his own. Shortly afterwards, the customer David made the payout units for went out of business, so he took the executive decision to show this unit at the UK Gaming Exhibition Blackpool in 1964. David manned half a stand (half a trestle table) with another company operating the other half, 50 years ago this year.

Collecting an order of 14 units, his machines impact at the exhibition greatly outweighed the actual order number, as businessman Donald Deakin invited David to exhibit on his stand at the London Exhibition. In the coming months, more and more orders where placed and David decided that he would have to give up his job with Gap Units in order to make payouts full time.

P.A.D Automation, the name of David’s new company originally operated out of his garage, and when a representative of the biggest machine manufacturer at the time, Maurice Collins of Ace Coin came to see him, he saw the garage. Collins wound down the window of his car and told David that he could not make parts for him from such a place, although David noted, that he was glad they didn’t enter the garage as it was a rainy day and the roof was leaking. David later supplied all of the payouts for Ace Coin from a new property based in Royton.

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Check back next week for David’s next chapter…