In 1882, farmer Tom Guntrip set himself up as a bookmaker. He stood in Hyde Park, pinning his prices on trees. Meanwhile, down on his farm in the Catford countryside, pigeons were trained to home in with the racing results and, one Derby Day, the bird at Epsom got stuck in the loft and for a frantic hour the vital news was lost amid flying feathers.
Some 100 years later T. Guntrip, probably the oldest-established bookmaker in the country, was acquired by Sunderlands. Established in 1946, it was so named because founder Pat Densham flew the Sunderland Bomber in World War II.
In 1998 Sunderlands went on to add the businesses of Laurie Wallis (est. 1924) and Habbershaws (est. 1905) in 2005.
Tom Guntrip with this family, Jack (left), wife Eva and stepson Alf Magrath
Balthazar Fabricius founded Fitzdares on the basis that the old-fashioned traditions of customer service and bookmaking were fading in an increasingly impersonal industry. With that in mind, we started off with a traditional private telephone service and then soon after became the first bookmaker to introduce text betting.
In 2016 we acquired Sunderlands, inheriting both a wealth of experience and also a natural partner who shared all our core values. We released our brand-new app to the public in 2018, completing a 12-year journey. This has enabled us to spread to a wider audience of app-only members, while maintaining our traditional Private Office service – we are now exceptionally well placed to cater to every and anyone’s betting needs.
Balthazar Fabricius (left), founder of Fitzdares, with his father Rod, ex-Managing Director of Goodwood Racecourse