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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 Jukebox. 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.


Fred Walker was born in 1911 and entered the coin-op business in 1934 when he met Bill Ruffler 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 grew 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 their 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 jukeboxes in the UK and this was to become the "bread and butter" of the business giving them the freedom to expand.


                           These two photos were taken at a party held at the Battersea offices to launch the latest Rock-Ola Jukebox 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 that struck him during a major trade show Bill took the opportunity to hand off some of the workload to Gordon Walker who was 29 at the time. The company also opened a new production factory in Erith, Kent and rebuilt 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 successful 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 distribution and had ten stands at that year's top trade show at Alexander Palace and still complained they didn't 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 (I'm sure we all have at least one slot token marked "PE") This later became "PRW" (Phonographic Ruffler and Walker), this, in turn, was absorbed into Associated Leisure, then Rank and finally Gamestec which has a current workforce 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 off at auction. These photos show 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 businessman 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 nonetheless successful.

                                            A Collection of R&W Machines



                             The Hat Trick                                             Earth Satellite  




                                                            Grand Prix Racer


                                           Yours to be won                                        Many Happy Returns



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                         What's My Line?                                                           Win a Wrigley's Gum 



                Freestanding unit to take four of their "giant" allwins                    Helicopter Race



                                         Table Hockey                                                     Table Football



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                                                             Three R&W Machine Tokens  


                                                                                        Late R&W Flyers