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The Penny Arcade

 The Coin Operated machine Information Site 

                                                         

                                                                                                              

                                                            The Ruffler & Walker Collection

 

For those of us interested in coin operated machines in the UK who are of "a certain age"  Ruffler and Walker need no introduction. As a maker and the  major supplier of machines in the UK during  the 50's and 60's the name popped up in almost every arcade,club,pub and coffee bar that had a slot machine or Juke box. If you won tokens from a machine then chances were they would have the instantly recognisable R&W logo on them. Many of us have a soft spot for R&W and their history is a successful one.

 

Bill Walker was born in 1911 and entered the coin op business in 1934 when he met Fred Walker who was already operating a small network of cigarette machines in south London. Bill once said they only had £100 between them when they started out. Their base was in Lavender Hill Battersea South London and the business crew from there quite quickly pretty much as a distributor of coin op machines to operating sites. The business continued to grow with R&W making machines of there own to add to their product list.

 

                                  

          Roy Ruffler(second left)Bill Ruffler (second right) Gorden Walker (right) 

                                                         

The key move that sealed their success came in the 1950's when they were quick to recognise the new disposable cash and independence the youth of the UK were now beginning to enjoy,with this in mind they  bought sole rights to distribute  Rock-Ola juke boxes in the UK and this was to become the "bread and butter" of the business giving them freedom to expand.

                                              

                           These  two photos were taken at a party held at the Battersea offices to launch the latest Rock-Ola Juke box in 1958, Bill can be seen on the right of the drums and Fred to the left of                                     the drums with his face half hidden.                           

1963 was an important year for R&W, the business was now estimated to be worth over £2,000,000 and following a prolonged illness which struck him during a major trade show Bill took the opportunity to hand off some of the work load to Gordon Walker who was 29 at the time.The company also opened a new production factory in Erith ,Kent and re built their Battersea showrooms and offices. By this time Roy Ruffler who had been handling the finances  expanded into banking,originally to offer finance to companies who wanted to buy machines,this was a great success and Rufflers Bank became a success full Bank in its own right with Roy eventually selling out to a larger bank in 2009 at which time Rufflers Bank had an  estimated value of £10,000,000.

             

   This is a photo of the actual Jaguar bought by the firm in 1961,It was an unusual top of the range 3.5ltr version. After R&W sold it in 1966 it was converted into one of the rare Combo                                                 racing Jags and still exists in a museum today

In 1964 R&W were the market leaders in UK slot distrubtion and had ten stands at that years top trade show at Alexander Palace and still complained they didnt have enough room for all their machines

 

  

By 1969 Ruffler and Walker had sold out (for a lot of money and share options) to Phonographic Equipment (im sure we all have at least one slot token marked "PE") This later became "PRW" (Phongraphic Ruffler and Walker)  ,this in turn was absorbed into Associated Leisure, then Rank and finally Gamestec which has a current work force of 750 and maintains 40,000 machines in the UK.

Seemingly bored with retirement Bill Ruffler came back into the business in 1972 forming a new distribution business with former Sega Europe boss Bob Dieth to form Ruffler & Dieth. Dieth continued the business after Bill's death  until he himself died in 2015, the company continues today as Dieth Industries. 

                            

                                                                                         Bob Deith

 

                       

                     

       Following Bob Dieth's death in 2015 the contents of their warehouse were sold of at auction. These photos showing  some of the  hundreds of parts and machines stored there were taken just before the sale.The basement contained many older machines in various                  states of decay and some interesting machines can be seen in the third photo down  

 

                                         

                            Mr & Mrs Bill Ruffler      Photo Of Bill Ruffler taken shortly before his death

As a kid I have personal memories of R&W as my father,also a south London business man knew both of these giants in the industry. I remember Bill well but not so much Fred (known to everyone as "the scary one" of the two. The business I remember as a typical family run business of the 50's, more cosy and casual than the faster moving business of today,but none the less successful.

                                            A Collection of R&W Machines

 

                     

                             The Hat Trick                                             Earth Satellite  

 

                

 

                                                 Grand Prix Racer

                  

                                           Yours to be won                                        Many Happy Returns

 

                                                                                                                                                                         

                                                Win A Nestles                                                                   Spangles  

 

                         

                         Whats My Line ?                                                         Rock-Ola Tempo     

                Free standing unit to take four of their "giant" allwins                    Helicopter Race

 

                      

                                         Table Hockey                                                     Table Football

 

                                             

                                                                                  Whats My Line Playfield

                         

                                                             Three R&W Machine Tokens  

            

                                                                                        Late R&W Flyers