The Earl Shilton Social Institute

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History

History - The Building


Research by Brannon Cope 

The Social Institute, founded between 1898 and 1900, originally conducted its activities in a converted barn somewhere in, what is now called, Wood Street. After this initial period two rooms were acquired situated above the Hinckley and District Urban Council's Gas Showroom in Wood Street. (now from 2003 onward, the Age Concern Charity Shop). Late in September 1908 a group of local Industrialist in Earl Shilton decided it was time for the Social Institute to be housed in its own premises. The social club had been in operation for some time, and now it was agreed to attempt to find some ground on which to erect a dedicated building. The earliest reference to this proposed project has been found in a small booklet called 'EARL SHILTON SOCIAL INSTITUTE - Official Handbook of - GRAND BAZAAR'. (kindly loaned by Mr. P Statham) The 'Bazaar' was to be held on Monday & Tuesday, December 28th and 29th, 1908, in the High Street Schools. Also found in this early handbook is a reference to the 'broad principles' on which 'the Institute is worked'; being non-political and unsectarian. A list of the Institute and Bazaar Officials is also incorporated, however, rather than try to reproduce more of this old document here, reproduction images can be viewed from the 'Grand Bazaar'. There are many advertisements placed by local businesses - Cycles ranging from £5-5s to £12-12s - Trap and Landau for hire to meet trains at Elmesthorpe.


Extract of entitlements to the site.    
An extract from the title deeds, to the land that these industrialists had their eyes on, shows the earlier tenancy to be in the possession of Wm Smith, a farmer in Earl Shilton, in Nov 1808. The Court Roll of the Manor of Earl Shilton shows that Wm Smith held the tenancy of the land commonly known as the Home Close in 1808. Wm bequeathed this land tenancy, which included the site on which the Institute's future building would be erected, in his will of 1850, to his eldest daughter Ann, the wife of Wm Cufflin a farmer in Earl Shilton. William died in April 1850 and was followed by his daughter Ann shortly after in July 1850. As all the disbursements of William's will had been made the land tenancy passed to Ann's heir, her eldest son William Smith Cufflin. The entitlement of Wm S Cufflin was confirmed in October 1854 when he paid to the Lady of the Manor the customary Silver Penny, and agreed to the annual rent of 5 shillings. In May 1884 the tenancy was sold for £160 to Thomas Edward Allen, a Miller from Barwell. This transaction mentions the inclusion of 'the stable buildings yard garden orchard and appurtenances' and refers to the location as being at 'the corner of the Town Street of Earl Shilton and Bown's Lane'. Also included was 'all that close of land situated in Earl Shilton near or adjoining to the said messuage or tenancy and known by the name of the Home Close.' Further inclusions refer to 4 more premises 'fronting onto the Town Street of Earl Shilton with the appurtenances thereto belonging (formerly one house and a barn then in the occupation of Thos Toon, Geo' West, Thomas Chamberlain & Thos Wileman and two of which houses were formerly in the occupation of George Coley & Elizth Colver (To which premises the said W S Cufflin was admitted tenant on the 21st Oct 1854)'. In Sep 1908 it was confirmed that all the legacies and due payments had been made according to the will of W S Cufflin and therefore the tenancy had passed to T E Allen. The annual rent agreed was now 4 shillings and 11 pence.

Purchase of the land.    


In February 1909 a parcel of land, approximately 763 square yards, was purchased from Albert Cufflin of Bull Pit Farm, Earl Shilton, by Thomas Whitmore, Albert Victor Hopcroft, William Henry Cotton, Thomas Colver, Thomas Josiah Bellamy and William Hodson Abbott all of Earl Shilton Boot & Shoe Manufacturers and Isaac Abbott (Tailor) and Edwin Harry Gilbert (Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages) also both of Earl Shilton. Albert Cufflin was the son of W S Cufflin and owned this plot as a legacy from his father. The site was purchased for £77-16s-3d. The site was now described as; 'bounded on the East by Station Road, to which it has a frontage of sixty feet, on the North partly by property recently sold to Parker Herbert, and partly by property belonging to John Edward Cotton. On the West by property belonging to the Wesleyan Chapel and on the South by property recently sold to William Henry Cotton. The site fronted onto Station Road which had become known as such since the road, earlier commonly known as Bown's Lane, had been extended in 1862-1863 to meet the road that ran from the outskirts of Earl Shilton, near Barwell, to Elmesthorpe. A Map of 1770 shows the road, or lane as it then was, as a track serving the outlying Breach and Huit farms only. By 1835 the track, now called Breach or Huit Lane, had been extended North-easterly to meet the main thoroughfare, now called Hinckley Road. It was finally entered into the Court Roll of the Manor that the eight men described above and their successors held this 763 Sq Yds of land as 'Trustees for the time being of the Earl Shilton Social Institute' after paying the customary silver penny and, the further reduced annual rent of four pence.


Declaration of Trust.    
The first Deed of Trust for the site was duly drawn up and dated 23rd February 1909 and held in the names of the same eight men, making them the first registered Trustees. The document sets out in eight clauses the 'presents' under which the land is held. These clauses being much like those of the present constitution and thereby functioning as the first constitution of The Institute. The deeds and mortgage documents for the building were lost sometime during the 1960's or more precisely they couldn't be found when a search was instigated in 1971 when a new deed of trust was require due to the passing of incumbent trustees.


The New Billiard Saloon.    
The decision to build a new 'Billiard Saloon' was taken during 1934. The minute book for the period is missing, however, a copy of the relevant minute was sent to 'The Earl Shilton Permanent Benefit Building Society' together with an application for a mortgage to the value of £1,250-0s-0d. A lengthy mortgage document of nine clauses and many sub-clauses was drawn up and the parcel of land, the Institute and dwelling house, and all the appurtenances were held as collateral. W H Cotton, T J Bellamy and E H Gilbert signed for and on behalf of the Institute, and the extension was duly added. 
The redemption of the mortgage was finalised on 15th Mar 1961. (A report on the opening of the extension as it appeared in the 'Hinckley Times' newspaper) 
EARL SHILTON SOCIAL INSTITUTE. 
Opening of the New Billiards Hall. Another milestone in the long and honourable history of the Earl Shilton Social Institute was passed on Saturday, when the president (Mr. W. H. Cotton), in the presence of a large and enthusiastic gathering, declared open the new billiard room. Several months ago it was found that the popularity of the game of billiards among the members was such that the needs of the players were not being catered for sufficiently by the old room, which was big enough to hold two tables. As the affairs of the Institute are in the hands of men to whom it is near to the heart, and who are competent and businesslike, there was no dilly-dallying. The committee had a plan submitted to them, approved it, and the work was put in hand with the lease possible delay. Now they have to raise the money to pay for it, and this they will do with the same verve that has characterised all their previous enterprises. The foundation stone of the new building was laid in April by the M. P. for Bosworth Division, Sir William Edge, who journeyed specially from Lytham, with Lady Edge. 


MEMBERSHIP OF OVER 250 
The Institute, which is entirely non-sectarian and non-political, has a membership of over 250, and although at the present time it is for men, efforts are being made to accommodate ladies. It was felt that it was essential that ladies should have a place where they could meet. The old billiards hall may supply this, but Mr. T. J. Bellamy announced during the afternoon that it may be let out to help the finances. The Institute was founded over 31 years ago. It had its beginning in two rooms on the other side of The Hollow on the same spot where the Hinckley Urban District Council now have their gas showrooms. The foundation stones of the present building were laid in 1909, and since then it has never looked back. Since its inception the Institute has been self-supporting, and with the exception of one or two special efforts they have paid for the building out of revenue. 


ACCOMMODATION FOR FIVE TABLES 
The new hall had been erected at a cost of over £1,000, and of this sum approximately a third had already been subscribed. The hall is beautifully decorated, and holds five full sized tables. In the words of J. H. Beetham, the amateur champion of Midland Counties, "it is the best of its size in the county." To celebrate the opening an attractive programme had been arranged. The opening ceremony was presided over by Mr. T. J. Bellamy, who, in his opening remarks said that their opener really needed no introduction, but the committee and he felt that if any credit for the erecting of such a fine building was going it was their president, Mr. W. H. Cotton, who should have it, for nobody had done more in collecting the subscriptions than he had. (Applause). Mr. Cotton, in the course of a characteristically witty speech referred to the great progress the Institute had made since its inception, and the work for good it was doing in the town. There was, he said, a feeling of brotherhood and fellowship among the members, and he personally was proud to belong to it, because he felt it was doing a great work among the youth of the town. A vote of thanks to Mr. Cotton was proposed by Mr. H. O. Mason. 
EXHIBITION BILLIARDS MATCH 
The ceremony was followed by an exhibition billiards match between Reg. Wright, of Earl Shilton, the winner of the Notts section of the England Amateur Championship, 1933, and J. H. Beetham, amateur champion of the Midlands, 1933. There was a public tea later, and a grand concert at night. The artistes were Mrs. G. Smith (soprano), Miss. E. Brown (contralto), Mr. T. Mason (humorist), Mr. G. Smith (baritone), Mr. E. Minard (musical saw) and Mr. A. Henson (conjuror). Mr Edwin Briggs accompanied at the piano.


The Reconstitution.    
During its long history the Institute has had many ups and downs; one of the lowest points was reached in the late 1970's. Sometime in 1971 the then Treasurer took possession of the Title Deeds and passed them to the then Secretary. The Secretary, while possessed of these deeds, died and a subsequent and exhaustive search was carried out, amongst all the papers and documents then in the possession of his widow, but the deeds could not be found. A sworn affidavit to this loss was registered by the Trustees. The Law of Property Act 1922 had enfranchised and vested in the original Trustees for an estate in free simple according to the Trust dated 23rd Feb 1909. Following the deaths of the original Trustees it was now necessary to appoint replacements. This was put into effect on the 11th Mar 1971. Towards the end of the 70's decade the fortunes of The Institute had reached a very low ebb, although solvent, activities had sunk to a very low level and the fabric and fittings were in desperate need of renovation. 
Following a visit by members of the Earl Shilton Carnival Committee in 1977 it was decided to temporally close the Institute in an attempt to gauge the feelings of the members, and the general public, should the loss of the Institute become realised. Consequently a restoration committee was formed and a fund raising campaign began. After a few weeks sufficient interest and funds were raised to undertake a planned restoration programme. During this time an application for registration as a charity was lodged with the Charity Commissioners for England and Wales. 
A new constitution, agreeable to the Charity Commissioners and the new Management Committee, recently formed from the fund raising group, was adopted. There then followed, for a decade or more, a programme of continuous improvement, restoration and innovation under the new charity status and control of the new Management Committee. Since that period of restoration the Institute has been re-established as a focal point for social activities in the area despite the closure of many other similar establishments.


The Snooker Tables.    
The game of billiards, and more lately snooker, has been the main attraction at the Institute since its foundation. The whole of the Institute's history revolves around these two games and the ups and downs of their popularity. Many other activities have been associated with the society, reading, card games, darts, table tennis, dancing, garden parties, in-door as well as out-door, keep fit in all its permutations, skittles, badminton, gymnastics, shooting and many more. Throughout the past 100 years these varied activities have wonted and weaned with local tastes, but the click of the 'ivories' has permeated the establishment throughout its long life. 
At the Committee meeting held on 6th January 1916 it was proposed that 'an extra Billiard Table be purchased'. After receiving quotations regarding the costs it was decided to purchase a table, from Messrs Ormes, at a cost of '59 guineas less 10% for cash'. That is £61.95 in today's (2008) values, whereas a new full sized table purchased now would cost between £5,000 and £10,000. 
A third table was purchased some time between 1916 and 1926. 
When Charles W. Wright became Manager in 1926 these three billiard tables had been taken upstairs, to the largest room, and occupied this room, that ran the full depth of the building, front wall to rear wall, until 1934 when the new 'Billiard Saloon' was added. At that time a small printers business occupied part of the rear garden of the Institute in a building that stretched eastwards as far as Wood St. This old building was sold, half of it demolished to make room for the new 'Saloon', and the rest subsequently became the Earl Shilton Library. In its turn this second half, now the library, was demolished together with a large private dwelling and the public air-raid shelter when the current library was erected. 
The five billiard tables now occupying this dedicated room at the rear, consist of the three original tables, brought down from the concert room on the first floor and which were initially installed in the double room immediately to the right of the entrance, and two new ones, bought sometime shortly before the second world war. The high grade No3 table, as it is now designated, has solicited many offers of purchase over the years, these have always been resisted and many high quality competitions, exhibitions and demonstrations have been played on it. 
There was a sixth; this was bought from the house clearance of George Ward's and occupied the front room during the late 40's and 50's when demand for play was very high, however, being isolated from the general hub-bub of the others it was never very popular. Its remote location also brought some disciplinary problems and it was removed in the early 70's. 
A comparatively recent addition is the pool table now occupying the old reading room, considered by some to be an amusement arcade type affair popular in the more cramped accommodation of a public house. 
For completeness of this history of the billiard tables one last puzzle remains. When were the fourth and fifth tables purchased?

The Stute Founders


The Social Institute Founder Members:   

These images of the Founder Members were assembled in 1911 to mark the Coronation of King George V.
The photographs below show some of the local men who were involved with the foundation of the Institute; 
most serving on the Management Committee for varying periods between 1900 and 1930.


The Stute Anniversary


The Social Institute was founded at the end of the 19th century to cater for the social needs of the young men of Earl Shilton.
Reconstituted in 1977 as a charity, it now serves as a social centre for the whole village and the surrounding area.

The society has now reached a remarkable point in its history. 
The Management Committee is actively arranging functions to mark this important occasion.

The first celebration was a great success! 
On Tuesday 16th June a highly entertaining evening was provided my Mark Selby, the renowned snooker player, or as he is affectionately known 'The Jester from Leicester'.  Details

A second successful celebration! 
An Open Weekend & Exhibition was held on Saturday 12th & Sunday 13th of September.  Details

And a successful Bring & Buy Sale.  Details 
With a last chance to view the 100th Exhibition on 9th October.


The year 2009, marked the 100th Anniversary of the present building.
Clueless?

Apart from the camera angle, capping of the house chimney and the recent addition of a ramped access, little has changed to the external view of the building. 
However, there have been significant improvements to the internal arrangements, especially since the adoption of the charity status in 1977, and since then a continual programme of development of the many facilities currently on offer.











Julie Mayer of BBC Radio Leicester at the Stute. 
Radio Leicester's popular show 'Clueless' visits the Stute


Restoration


During 2011 it became apparent that there were serious problems with the integrity of the Snooker Hall floor.
Built in 1934 the wooden floor, although refurbished from time to time over the years, was now becoming a safety issue.
A massive fund raising campaign was successfully mounted and by the end of the year sufficient funds were raised to allow a restoration plan to be implemented.


Appreciation to the fundraisers:


Shire Grants.
Earl Shilton Town Council.
Lions Club - Barwell and Earl Shilton. 
Florence Turner Trust. 
Local History Group.


On behalf of Members and Users of the facilities The Management Committee wishes to extend its appreciation to the following for their contribution to the Snooker Hall Restoration Project: 

This 2011 project to deal with building issues, renovate the snooker hall and adjoining office was a major undertaking costing in excess of £23,000 and took the effort of many people to make it happen, we would like to acknowledge the support from the following:- 

• Brian George and Alan Liddle for making temporary measures to enable the hall to remain open.
• Jim Harper for arranging initial quotes.
• Julia Pittham for researching and getting a Building Survey at a reduced rate.
• Nicholas & Associates for a prompt service at a Charity price.
• Kevin Butcher and Andy Hayes – Rural Community Council and LCC support.
• John Beasley- LCC - Information and support.
• Roger Lomas – Town Council - support.
• Rob Phelps & Koreen Hubbard Local Business Forum - support.
• Councillor Janice Richardson - support and useful contacts.
• Linda Bent & Rosemary Coe - donations from local history group.
• Julia Pittham for organising fundraising and the women from the exercise classes for their donations, time and support.
• J Iddon & G Taylor for organising Snookerthon and members for taking part or sponsoring.
• Brannon Cope for running and promoting the cause through the website.
• Graham Chilvers HBBC for support and contacts.
• Paul Statham, Julia Pittham and Jim Harper for attending funding support meetings.
• Julia Pittham & Paul Statham for Town Council Grant application.
• Earl Shilton Town Council for Grant.
• Julia Pittham - researching grants and making successful Grant Applications.
• Leicestershire County Council Shire Grant.
• Florence Turner Trust Grant.
• The Cotton Trust Grant.
• Vicci Barrett – Voluntary Action Leicestershire - support with Lottery Grant.
• Awards for All - Big Lottery Fund Grant.
• Jim Harper for getting Police Permission for parking.
• Jim Harper more quotes, co-ordinating the trades-people and the project.
• John Iddon for Grant Application.
• Geoff Taylor for contact with the local Lions and subsequent grant.
• Barwell and Earl Shilton Lions for Grant.
• Mitch Irving – Hinckley Times - Publicity.
• 24 senior members for donation £10 each:- S Langham, B George, D Freer, A Harris, E Jesson, A Briggs, R Heighton, H Thompson, 
D Everton, T Charlesworth, T Judd, L Payne, F Armstrong, D Wilbur, V Dunning, R Evans, G Wood, G Coe, B Lucas, A Davies, 
F Goodman, T Reynolds, J Bent, R Bennett.
• John Iddon for photographs and Facebook entries.
• Senior members for helping to clear the areas including:- B George, T Judd, John Bent, Geoff Coe, Arthur Harris, Ernie Jesson, 
Bob Lucas, Alec Briggs, Graham Wood, Geoff Taylor, Geoff Smith, Ron Smith & Paul Statham.
• Brian George, Mary Statham & Paul Statham for decorating and returning the snooker hall to use.
• Everyone who has helped in any way and for your patience and support.



A Soldier's Story

My father’s name is Harold John Scott from Ashford, Kent and on 26 February 1941 aged 19, he was registered for Army service. He was drafted in the Royal Ordinance Army Corps along with Harry Harding, Don Simmons and John Osborne, all from the South of England. 

They were to be stationed at Old Dalby Barracks but as these were not equipped and ready for use, they were temporarily stationed at Earl Shilton. Arriving at Hinckley Station on 24 April 1941, they slept on the dance floor at George Hall that night. Next morning 40 of them were transferred to Earl Shilton on an open topped wagon. Their sergeant counted them on arrival and found 42 men and 1 dog! No one knew what happened to the dog! They were sorted into alphabetical squads, and spent 2 weeks in turn at the Working Men’s Club, the ‘Stute’ and the Constitutional Club. Their days were spent doing drills in West Street, the fields near Weaver’s Close School and in Station Road. Some soldiers were already billeted in the Co-op Hall and the Adult School. 
My father’s group spent their last weeks in Earl Shilton at the Constitutional Club. During that time, one night when the siren went, everyone hurriedly dressed and waited for orders. After a while my father decided to lay on top of his bunk and next he knew it was daylight and realised he had slept through the raid. 
His first weeks in Earl Shilton he had been unable to sleep because he found it too quiet. Before being called up he’d been a bread rounds-man in “Hell Fire Corner” (Ashford, Kent) with a horse driven van. Every time the siren went off, the horse bolted, so my father became a good sprinter until he learnt to wrap the reins around the brake pedal! As his delivery round was next to the station, (which is now called Ashford International), he’d seen quite a lot of bombing there. In fact the previous rounds-man had asked for a transfer - he was too nervous to deliver! 
The local vicar at St Simon & St Jude Parish Church asked local residents to host the young soldiers once a week to make them feel welcome in Earl Shilton and give them the chance to have a hot bath. Imagine 40 soldiers wanting a bath at the Stute, cold water and tin baths? In return, the soldiers repaired fences and did some gardening and the like for the hosts, and that is how my parents met on 6 May 1941 at my grandparents’ home. 
My mother’s maiden name was Kathleen Joyce Goodman and she lived in Mill Lane, Earl Shilton. When the Old Dalby Barracks were completed my father left Earl Shilton on 13 June 1941. They marched down to Elmesthorpe station and caught a troop train at 9.00 am travelling via Leicester, Derby and Nottingham, finally arriving at Old Dalby at 3.30 pm. 
My father continued meeting my mother and many times walked from Old Dalby near Melton Mowbray to Leicester and then caught a bus to Earl Shilton. They were married on 10 October 1942 at St Simon & St Jude Parish Church with a local girl Rona Startin nee Forman as bridesmaid and fellow soldiers, Harry Harding acting as best man, and Bill Morgan as organist.














personal recollection of times spent at the Institute. 
Reproduced here with kind permission of Marlene.


Memories of the ‘Stute. 

Well I think everyone who was born or who came to live in Earl Shilton has at some time come in contact with someone who has been to or involved with the ‘Stute. Especially if like me you had a dad who enjoyed playing snooker and billiards, as well as three brothers and a husband too. 
I can remember my dad talking about going to the ‘Stute. And in later years, when he reminisced with us, of playing with or watching Reg Wright, being about the same age. I can hear him saying it started over what is now the Age Concern shop, onetime the Gas Showrooms. 
Most boys could hardly wait to be 13 so that they could join. About the early days, before the big room was used and all kinds of functions taking place there. 
There were some army personnel billeted there during the Second World War: My Aunties were pleased about that. I seem to remember there were people who met their future husbands there. He told me (my dad) that there used to be a snooker table at the back of the King William, then it moved to the Gas Showrooms then onto the building which is now the ‘Stute. 
Of course when I was younger girls were not allowed. Then came the dreaded ‘Rock-n-Roll’ and they started the Tuesday night Tanner Hops upstairs in the big Concert Room. But there used to be one of the Committee men at the bottom of the stairs, making sure us girls did not go into the sacred snooker rooms. We had some really good times there. The old floor used to fair shake when we all started dancing; of course there was no alcohol, so the lads used to go over to the King William at half time, and most of the girls used to follow. 
There was never any trouble. I’m sure it must have helped the ‘Stute to be able to carry on. 
My brothers joined one by one as they reached the age of 13. When I married George in 1961, I suppose I lost touch with all that although I’m not sure if George used to go. 
I seem to remember they always had a football team. When our children came along of course they wouldn’t have been allowed to join until they were older, but of course in the 1970’s, George, being involved with the Carnival Committee, we were all roped in to save the ‘Stute from closure. 
So started a few years of hard work and help. Firstly I can remember scrubbing, painting and dusting, oh what dust!!! Trying to make the place look and smell a lot cleaner and fresher. Little by little a good few clubs were formed, Judo, Badminton, over 65’s afternoons and Saturday morning Dads and Lads. 
In the large Concert Room there were wedding receptions and parties; every Monday night and Tuesday, George and I used to help run the shop, keep an eye on the youngsters who came in to play cards, dominoes and snooker or just came in out of the cold. We had stalls at the carnival to raise money, jumble sales, a knit-in and cake stalls. 
I ran the second hand shop there for a good few years until I had to go into hospital. 
George continued to paint & work there for a good while until a new Committee took over, and it’s good to see it’s still going forward. 
I further remember when I was in the second hand shop I used to go down to the boiler room to light the boiler and let the senior citizens club in to play snooker. Also when they fetched the old chimney pots off I asked if I could have them. They are still in my garden now plus one of the small pews from the snooker room. If only they could talk!

personal recollection of a game of snooker. 
Reproduced here with kind permission of Geoff.


Back in the Eighties when I was a decent player, I got to the final of the Leicestershire Individual Final in two consecutive years. This tournament was the premier event in Leicestershire and attracted the best players in the county. To reach two consecutive finals had never been done before and more amazingly, by me, (who had a full-time job), beating full-time players! Nearly all the players I beat were better than me, but maybe they underestimated me; thinking that because I only played a fraction of what they played that I had no chance! I just managed to raise my game for the occasion. 
One year I was drawn against Sean Marsh from Braunstone, (a demon potter who had played my team mate only weeks before and made him look very ordinary), in the semi-final. I was very wary of Sean's ability, and envious of his reputation; he had beaten many a good player on many occasions. 
The venue was Osborne's Snooker club in Cank Street; Leicester's first and foremost snooker club with old billiards tables that were as tight-pocketed as was humanly possible, very similar to table 3 at the Stute. 
My Parent's were very proud and arranged a 24 seater coach party to support me. I felt like Norman Dagley - but without the talent! As we piled in to the dark and dingy match room, everyone looked on with faces that said; "There's gonna be a lot of disappointed people, there!" 
The table was ancient, with pockets that consisted of just a net - no rail, so the balls were lifted out of the pocket. On one side of the table was a large scoreboard and on the other was two rows of tiered seating with about 20 - 25 seats in total. My family and friends virtually filled it, and I was really relaxed due to the support. As everyone found their seats and got comfortable, I saw Sean walk in with his support party; his girlfriend! He obviously thought that it was going to be a quick and easy match and then off down the pub! But to me it was a big match. Yes, I've beaten better players, but not with all my family and friends watching in the semi-final of Leicester's biggest tournament! 

The referee was the lovable Jim Kerr. He had officiated in lots of my matches previously and I loved the bloke. He was the best referee in Leicestershire, Alan Chamberlain included, (he is the referee off the tv), and he was always asked to referee the big matches, and I was pleased because poor referees can lose you games with poor decisions. Jim was the best and he didn't make silly mistakes. 

The match was the best of 7 and as I got down to break off for frame one , I could hardly keep still, I was so nervous. Sean knocked in a long red that hit the back of the pocket with a 'crack' and I thought. 'Oh no, here we go. I am going to be home in time to see the Nine O'clock News'. A colour later and then a missed red left me in with a chance and before I knew it I was 1 - 0 up. 
I glanced at my supporters who were all smiling and giving me the 'thumbs-up' sign and I was so pleased that I was close to tears. Time seemed to flash by and I was playing so well and Sean couldn't pot a ball! I was having a 'purple patch' and everything I attempted either worked or went my way. Sean was getting more frustrated and kept looking at me as though to say; 
"How are you beating me! This isn't in the script." I was 4 - 0 up, only needing one more frame to win, and I was on cloud nine. Every shot I played went my way, luck was on my side and all the run was going my way. I was in heaven. 
I was left an easy red, which I potted and left me a long straight blue. I lined it up and got down for the shot. As I struck the white, I knew that the blue was going into the pocket and lifted my head up sharply to show my confidence and move to my next shot. As I lifted, I banged my head on the lightshade so hard, that it swung like a playground swing, throwing off about 30 years worth of dust into the air. My head was throbbing, and I remember Jim Kerr trying his best to grab the lightshade as it swung uncontrollably from side to side, momentarily lighting the scoreboard then the faces of my supporters, then the scoreboard, then supporters..... 
I was dieing to rub my head but was too embarrassed to do so. I could see stars in front of me and found it impossible to focus on anyone. I looked at the table, the balls now covered in dust and people coughing and waving their hands to disperse the 'fog'. 
Jim eventually managed to bring the lightshade to a standstill, but the dust was like a swarm of bees! I looked at my parents and couldn't make out their faces due to the stars that I was seeing, and I heard Jim literally shout; "Six". This was the break I was on, a red and a blue, before the commotion and this was the sign to continue the match. 
I approached the table and genuinely couldn't remember if I was 'on' a red or a colour. I asked Jim what break I was on and he told me but he wasn't allowed to tell me what ball I was to play. I played a red and was elated when he didn't call a foul. 
I went on to win the frame and match but didn't take my luck or confidence into the final, where I lost 5 - 3 to a Terry Davidson, a Canadian professional based in Leicester. 
Geoff Kenney.

Snippits from the past

Extracts from the wartime minute book. 

1914 - 1917.

Jan 1914 - ”A discussion took place re members leaving during the summer, & joining again in the winter, & it was agreed that members be allowed to pay their Annual Sub of 5/- during the 1st five months at the rate of 1/- per month. This it was hoped would remedy it to some extent”. 
[Annual subs of 5/- or 25p in today’s money, but equivalent to about £13.00 as calculated in 1998]

Jan 1914 - ”Mr Bellamy prop, Mr Hanson sec, that 6 spittoons be purchased. Mr Wightman to attend to the same”.

Dec 23 1914 - “Supper: Agreed that we purchase 5 turkeys amounting to about 130lbs. Agreed that all those who have seen active service, and all Ambulance men who are serving their country are invited free to the supper. 
Privileges to soldiers etc. Mr H Cobley prop, Mr W H Abbot sec, that all men who are serving their country in Army, Navy or Ambulance work shall be entitled to use the Institute free, until the close of the war”.

Xmas Day 1914 - [A list of Committee members and their duty times was published. 11 names in all, each to be on duty for one hour each. Starting from 9.00am until 9.00pm with only one hour, 1.00pm to 2.00pm being missed out when the Institute was closed] 
“The Annual Supper was held on New Year’s Eve 1915 when about 120 attended the supper, and there was a good attendance at the Annual Meeting which followed. The Institute Choir gave selections, and Mr W Barker sang solos during the evening which was an enjoyable one. 
The Financial Report was a most satisfactory one, showing a clear profit on the year’s working of over £20, bringing the debt down to well under £1,000”. 
[£20 then - £1,038 today. £1,000 then - leaving a debt of about £50,000 in today’s terms] 
[Many instances of discussions on installing water pipes in the ‘closets’ were held during 1915. It seems that toilets, then as now, have always raised difficulties]

July 1915 - “Mr T Whitmore prop, Mr Cotton sec, that the Bowling Club be allowed the use of the large room on July 21, if wet, for entertaining wounded soldiers, Mr Aucott to be written to that effect”.

Dec 31 - 1915 [Annual Meeting] 
“A large company present. Mr Cobley in the chair”. 
[At this meeting it was agreed to limit the Committee to 10 - That left 10 Committee members plus 5 Officers] 
“The Treasurer’s Report which was on the whole satisfactory, showed that we cleared £20 off the building fund which now is £960, and that we had made a net profit of £3 during the year”. 
[Once more in today’s terms - £20 - - £1,038 £960 - - £49,800 £3 - - £155]

Jan 1916 - “After hearing the report of the meeting with Messers Ormes representative it was decided to order their Table at 59 guineas less 10% dis for cash. Table to be delivered at once”. 
[This order was for a new Billiard table, provided the Trustees (there were 9) agreed, and the Bank was willing to provide a loan] 
[There was concern at] “The number of young members who had joined under the proper age”. 
[At the same meeting] “Mr Boulter prop, Mr H Wightman (crossed out and Mr Cobly entered) sec, that we have electricity installed in the Billiard rooms, 13 lights of 40 candle power, 3 on each table, 2 on each side of room. Estimates to be asked from Messers Thursfield to connect electricity with Institute”. 
[This suggests that in 1916 there were three tables lit by candles or probably gaslights. There were gaslights in the ‘Games Room’. The present Snooker Hall was built in the early 1930’s] 
[Later in Jan that year the estimate of £23-6s-2d was agreed for the lighting to be installed] 
[Full electric lighting was agreed and installed at the end of 1917 including the Ladies Lavatory at an extra cost of 15/-]

Mar 1916 - “Agreed that the Institute be insured against air craft, & that the total be increased £100”. 
“Agreed that the Institute building be insured for £1,000 and fittings £300”. 
[In 1978 the figures were £60,000 and £7,100 respectively plus a public liability indemnity of £250,000]

Jan 1917 - “Agreed that we have three cards printed to hang over each Billiard table requesting members not to smoke while playing, & members of the Committee be empowered to stop it”. 
[This confirms there were three tables in use during the early 20th century. Two tables were recovered in February at a cost of £6-17-6 each - - £365 would be today’s equivalent]

Nov 1917 - “Agreed that we have a chalkholder on approval, and that Mr Boulter get information re Snooker balls for the next meeting”. 
[This was the first time Snooker has been mentioned, however, it wasn’t discussed at the next meeting, there was more concern that members be made aware:-] 
“that no nomination of members to serve on the Committee be accepted for members under 20 years of age”

Another Snippet from the past


SOCIAL INSTITUTE.... George H Foster. 
An extract from - History of Earl Shilton, Tooley Park and Potters Marston. by G. H. Foster. 
In aid of Earl Shilton, Elmesthorpe and Thurlaston Services’ Fund Registered under War Charities’ Act, 1940. 
Reproduced here with kind permission of Mrs Kind (daughter of G H Foster)

The Social Institute was opened in 1909. It formerly held its meetings in the premises now occupied by the present gas offices in Wood Street. 
This useful body once boasted of many sporting activities, including football, cricket, rifle range, chess club, skittles and billiards, besides the many concerts organised by its members. 
The Great War sadly depleted its members and for some years things went flat. However, today a splendid new billiard room has now been added and a large lounge provided with settees. 
In earlier years the village coffee shops provided the venue of gossip for the young men who would congregate nightly for their games and talks. One known as Mary Puffer's was situated in the Old Post Office Row in High Street. The old gas works in Station Road were dismantled a few years ago and Shilton now gets its supply from Hinckley, which is owned by the Urban authority. Water for drinking and other purposes is now supplied from Snarestone and is pumped via Hinckley through pipes, a great asset to the inhabitants, if one takes into account the typhoid epidemics so prevalent last century in this village. 

Memories of Norman Dagley

Personal View by Colin White, as it first appeared in the 'Amateur Billiard Player' of May 1999. 
Colin's reflections on the Institute and on Norman Dagley. 
Reproduced here with kind permission of Colin.

Although 57 years have passed since I first crossed its threshold, I remember the old Earl Shilton Social Institute as though it were yesterday. 

A flight of steps led up from Station Road to an unpretentious red brick building through the doors of which a passage, bounded on either side by various rooms, led to a much longer full width room with wooden bench seating worn smooth and shiny with the polishing effect of numerous posteriors, a small private kiosk from which the steward, 'Siah (Josiah) Pratt controlled the proceedings and 5 full-size billiard tables ranged side by side with the favourite No 3 in the centre. 
I call them billiard tables because in those dark days of the early 1940s, when England was in danger of becoming part of the 3rd Reich, the game of billiards still held ascendancy over the usurper called snooker. We teenagers would meet at the 'Stute on Saturday mornings or afternoons and, almost invariably, the evenings for a game of billiards or snooker. This, supplemented by perhaps a couple of visits during the week and Saturday night ‘hops´, was our world of entertainment and very contented we were in those otherwise austere times. So popular was the 'stute that eventually another table was bought and installed in the room immediately inside the front door on the right. It was (not surprisingly) numbered 6, but it was a slow, dead, isolated table, which no-one played on unless forced to do so by high booking numbers. It was removed when demand for table time diminished and no-one was sorry to see it go. 
By comparison table No 3 was like glass and most of us ham-fisted youths found it a very difficult table to play on. Yet there was one person who could perform wonders on this, his favourite table: his name was Reg Wright. Reg it was who spotted another young talented player from among the many youths frequenting the 'stute and Reg it was who taught this youth everything he knew and, as seems to be the usual pattern, was himself surpassed in skill and achievements by his erstwhile pupil. We, with typical Midland penchant for abbreviating names, called him ‘Dag´ but the world at large was to hear about his exploits by his full name - Norman Dagley. 
I suppose it would have been approaching Christmas 1943 when 'Siah organised a tournament with a chicken as the prize. In those days of food shortages, when the occasional rabbit or wood pigeon was a rare but welcome addition to our diet, the prospect of dining off chicken was indeed attractive and the entry list was soon full. To cut a long story short somehow or other I managed to reach the final only to be beaten by Norman on the black. Yes, the black. Norman played in at least one snooker tournament, albeit as a young person of about 14, but he was the one who went home with a smile on his face and a chicken under his arm. I suppose this must have been the first of Norman's countless conquests where a prize was at stake and I was the unfortunate victim. 
Norman's temporary excursion into snooker was, I have no doubt, severely criticised by the Wright family who, I understand, would have nothing to do with such an inferior game; in fact, even billiards had to be played within extremely tight ethical constraints and exacting positional limits. Reg would give Norman a task to master and would not be satisfied until stroke, score and perfect after position was achieved time and again. He would, for instance, lightly mark a 3" x 3" square on both sides of the table into which the cue ball, following a pot red in postman's knock sequence, would have to come to rest for the next stroke. Even when Norman made his first 100+ break, Reg's response was less than complimentary. "Well Norman" he said, "you've done it at last, and a right mess you made of it too". Reg was a very demanding tutor but as we all know it paid off in the long run. 
At this time Norman was playing with the cue which he used all his career. We boys had already saved up our pennies and bought cues which the paternal 'Siah had obtained from somewhere; plain one- piece maple cues with just a single mahogany splice, costing us 15s; or in present day terms 75p. I still have mine in the rack and it is still perfectly straight. Norman's one-piece cue was very superior, being made of ash with 4 ebony splices, costing I suppose in the region of £5. To put these figures into perspective let me say that my first wage packet in 1941 was 9s 6d (48p) while people working on munitions manufacture in Coventry were earning the unbelievably high wage of around £15 per week. Norman's cue, despite being worn away under the tip through years of chalking, served him well and as he said to me in 1987 after pulling off the grand slam, "This is the cue I bought down the old Institute and I've never wanted any other". A few years later saw all the friends serving in the forces in one way or another. Norman told me of joining the air force and hating every minute of it, threatening to abscond on several occasions. Fortunately, as he told me, his father dissuaded him from taking such a course of action because if he did, his dad warned him, they would hunt him down and imprison him which would be infinitely worse than sticking it out. Norman's achievements in the years following demobilisation are well documented and I regret not having seen him play in his many amateur victories. Despite his achievements in later professional years, his outstanding performances while still an amateur must rank these times as his purple period. 
Although I had read of Norman's successes in the Leicester Mercury and the Hinckley Times during our visits back to our parents, it was not until 1987 that I saw him again. I had recently resumed playing snooker, and had only then learned of the existence of the local Sandford Orcas and District Billiards League. I knew Jack Masters of Wincanton, a long standing player in the Sandford League, through playing snooker against him, and I suggested that we might put on an exhibition if Norman were agreeable. On seeing Norman he readily agreed and so it was that he and his wife Nita stayed in our holiday cottage for a week, in return for which he played at Wincanton against his long- time amateur adversary Dick Watts. I recall that eventually we succeeded in getting an audience of 80 which, compared with present day interest, was quite rewarding. But then, they were watching the current World, European and British Champion. I doubt whether Wincanton will ever see the like again. 
Over the next 12 years we met from time to time and I had a number of games with him, but It was not until April 1998 that he came to Mere again to stay with us, and to perform with Roxton Chapman at Wincanton. He had recovered from a burst blood vessel on the brain some years before and a lymphatic gland 'disorder' the previous year, but these afflictions had left their mark. I think Norman recognised this when he referred to himself as being 'in the twilight' of his career. 
Even so, he was still the entertainer, full of humour and clean but unrepeatable jokes. Every time we visited him at Earl Shilton he would ply us with tea, tales of foreign visits (especially India) and numerous jokes and tales about the WPBSA. He was never slow to present a bouquet or throw a brick bat. Norman revered Walter Lindrum, he referred to Herbert Beetham as a perfect gentleman and praised Mike Russell by saying, "You know Colin he is good: he learned in one year what took me five". At the same time he deplored the activities of some WPBSA officials (now fortunately gone), the sometimes outrageous behaviour of professional players which reflected badly on both snooker and billiards, and the appearance of any player looking less than smartly dressed. The last time I saw Norman was at Darley Dale in November 1998. He was, even then, one of the best dressed persons in the room. 
On one of our visits to him during his last illness he reflected on the fickle nature of the local people. When he was winning and the papers were full of captions like "Demon Dagley does it again", everyone wanted to greet him, congratulate him, rub shoulders with him. But he was hurt when after his best years, the very same people wouldn't even pass the time of day. Fortunately the billiard playing fraternity are not like that. He was still as popular as ever when he played last year at Wincanton. He even went to the billiard room on Saturday morning to see how the lads from Derbyshire were 'getting on', he sat through our friendly Black Pudding/Scrumpy thrash-about on Saturday night and afterwards gave a cabaret joke-telling performance for around ½ hour. Norman was still the extrovert entertainer. We finally bid our goodbyes at Nuneaton on 20th January 1999 when a great number of people, including former opponents, paid last respects. There were many misty eyes that day and many people were obviously greatly affected. We had, I am sure, begun to think of him as being almost indestructible. Well, Norman was not as Immortal as we might have thought or hoped, but his personality and his achievements will live as long as billiards is played and long after that. Were it possible to see him for just one brief moment more I am sure that everyone would join me in saying, "Thank you Norm for giving so much pleasure and being an inspiration to so many billiard players". 

Norman Dagley was born in Earl Shilton and remained a resident of the Leicestershire village throughout his life. In his early days he was above average at both cricket and football. He was captain of the local Grammar School at cricket—a game he loved passionately, also having a trial for the Leicestershire county side as a spin bowler. At football he had a trial on the right-wing for Aston Villa. His early working life included 20 years at Eatough´s Shoe Factory, national service in the Royal Air Force, a spell as a bus driver, then a chauffeur, and finally he worked as a supervisor at the Atack Snooker Centre in Nuneaton. But it was at billiards that Norman gained his international recognition. 
He was taught to play the game at the Earl Shilton Institute by Reg Wright of Barwell, and throughout his career he could never praise Reg enough, attributing his success to having been taught the game correctly in his formative years. Reg Wright was himself a top class amateur player who was always striving for perfection in his play. He was a great coach and mentor for Dagley and he taught him every facet of the game, refusing to let Norman play on the "big match" scene until Wright considered he was "ready". When this day arrived, Norman entered the English Amateur Championship and became part of what must be regarded as the halcyon days of the amateur game. At this time the Championship was played out from the last 32 at Burroughes & Watts Hall in Soho Square, London where there was terrific opposition from the likes of Leslie Driffield, Herbert Beetham, Frank Edwards, Alf Nolan and Jack Karnehm—all champions in their own right—plus many more very good players. Dagley soon made his mark and eventually set up a record sequence of championship wins—15 in all. He also won the CIU Individual Championship a record 11 times, on occasion´s travelling 200 miles to play a game of 350 up. In one round of the CIU he made a break of 349 unfinished against the unfortunate Les Kitchen, who had travelled all the way from Portsmouth for the privileged of witnessing this feat Dagley played in many different countries including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Malta and India. He made a total of 16 trips to India, where he was always treated like royalty. In the course of his travels he collected two World Amateur titles. His first was in Malta in 1971, the second in Auckland, New Zealand in 1975. Indeed, for a long time he was almost invincible on the amateur circuit. As his game grew in stature he began to improvise, especially with top-of-the-table, and he had many tricks and moves which would allow him to continue a break when all seemed lost. He always referred to "postman´s knock" in this way : "If your opponent´s white is trapped on the top cushion behind the spot you´ve only got two balls to worry about, not three". Dagley, for all his good grounding, had several other things in his armoury; he was a brilliant potter, had a steely determination and an ice-cool temperament; was able to sit out while his opponent held the table and then come back to punish him for any mistake he made. 
Norman turned professional after his last Amateur Championship win in 1984 and subsequently won two World Professional titles. His first came in 1987, when he completed a "Grand Slam" by also taking the European and United Kingdom Championships. He retained his World Championship the following year. 
Of all the events in which he played, his favourite by far was the annual "Darley Dale" invitation tournament in Derbyshire. Organised by Jim McCann and Malcolm Gregory, this brought together four top professional players in a series of 50 minute matches. Throughout his career, Norman always showed great sportsmanship and was a good ambassador for both billiards and his country. He was very good company to be with, always ready for a laugh and a joke, and he will be sadly missed by his many friends around the World. Truly a legend in the game in his own lifetime—Contributors : Richie Evans John Quartermain and others.

More Memories of Norman Dagley


Personal View by Jim McCann, as it first appeared in the 'Amateur Billiard Player' of May 1999. 
Jim's reflections on his associations with Norman Dagley. 
Reproduced here with kind permission of Jim.


Throughout the World, wherever billiards is played, the name Norman Dagley stood for everything that is good about the game. 
He has been a giant in the game from the early 1960´s until the early 1990´s when ill-health began to take its toll. 
Norman epitomised the saying that "billiards is a game for gentlemen, played by gentlemen" His silky skills on the table were backed up by his sartorial elegance and sportsmanship, second to none. 
I feel privileged to have been Norman´s friend for over twenty years and have travelled with him throughout the country to witness many of his major triumphs. He was a constant wit, and had the ability to fit into any company and make people feel at ease. 
I first met Norman when he came to the Whitworth to play against us in the now defunct "Powerglide League" which was for three man teams from all over the country. It was from these games, and encouragement from Norman and Bob Close, that I set up an exhibition at the Whitworth. That "one-off" Sunday event paved the way for an 18 year run which must be put down to the skills demonstrated by the players involved. 
On one of these occasions Norman had just finished off the last game with a superb break of 385 and left the table to deafening applause. One of our senior members went over to him and said "Well Norman, if that´s billiards, what´s the game called that I´ve been playing for the last 40 years ?" 
In those early days, Norman and Bob Close provided me with my fondest billiards memories and I did my best to watch them whenever possible. The highlight for me was the 1984 English Amateur Final at Widnes when Norman was unstoppable. In the last two hour session he had only ten visits to the table and I looked on in wonder as he ran in breaks of 255, 136, 401, 92, 472 and 280 unfinished. 
When the applause subsided, it was announced that Norman´s session score of 1,477 and an average of 147.7 was a World record under the two pot rule. To this, Bob Close stood up and said "I´d like to claim a World record for the lowest score" as he had only been able to amass 75 points during the session. 
Pro-Am days with the likes of Norman, Bob and Mark Wildman were always enjoyable and a chance to learn from the best. On one occasion we were to play at Kings Cross and decided to go there by train. As we were going to different stations, Norman offered to meet me off the train at St. Pancras, but told me to look around in case I missed him. As I got off the train I looked across the teaming masses, and in the middle stood this elegant man in black trousers, shiny patent leather shoes, a stunning white top coat and sunglasses. 
I could have picked him out if he had been stood on the Moon. From there we went to the hotel and he then proceeded to take me on a tour of the local night-life, still in his stunning attire and sunglasses ! 
The advent of the newly formed professional game gave Norman another platform to demonstrate his skills to a wider audience and even some TV coverage. We had some wonderful times in London, Stockport (Romiley Forum), Bolton (Town Hall), Sheffield (Radion Plaza) and Wigan. He quickly rose through the rankings an soon established himself as number one in the World. 
To see him lift the World Championship in Bolton was a fitting reward for all his efforts over the years. 
On the pro circuit it became the job of either myself or Des Heald to fix his bow tie, make sure his Italian braces where correctly aligned, and carry his cue case-which he seemed to forget with great regularity. On one occasion at the Radion Plaza, Eugene Hughes and I were watching Norman play, and marvelling at his cueing technique. Eugene then told me that Norman was the only player, be it at billiards or snooker, that he would pay money to watch. He also used to tell the young snooker pro´s "If you want to see the perfect cue action, go and see Norman Dagley play" 
Over the years we have always talked regularly on the phone about all aspects of the game and life in general, but his coming to Darley Dale always made that occasion special, and to sit in his company at the venues over the years was always a privilege and an experience. One of the nice parts about the Darley Dale tournament is the social side we enjoy in the pub after the play is finished. Sat one night with Peter Miller of the CIU we were discussing old times. Years ago in the CIU, if a player reached the finals he was allowed to claim expenses for travel because it was a nation wide event. At one such final Norman went over to Peter and gave him his travel expenses on a piece of paper. Peter opened it, read the total at the bottom and said "Blimey Norman, I didn´t realise Concorde flew out of Leicester". 
At one of the team finals the players were lining up to give their expenses to Peter who promptly told them "Hold on lads, lets get Norman´s sorted out first and see what´s left for you lot". 
I know that there will be things that I have omitted from this tribute which will come to mind at a later date, but one thing I must say from a purely personal point of view, he was the greatest man who ever lived. 
One thing is certain, there will never be another. 
Thanks for the memory.

Meeting Norman


A Personal View by Geoff Kenney, 

Geoff's reflections on his meeting Norman Dagley. 
Reproduced here with kind permission of Geoff.


On October 22nd 1979, my Parents, Brian and Doreen, took over as Steward and Stewardess of the Hinckley Liberal Club on Mansion Street, Hinckley. 
I was already struck by the snooker ‘bug’ and to hear that the current English Billiards champion was resident at my new home, although I’d never heard of Norman Dagley, was great news.
Within a month, I had met Sam Alkin, a pensioner who was a friend and follower of Norman, who had told me how good he was and that he was the best in the World. 
I was 16, and although I had only been playing snooker for a few months, had half a dozen sixty breaks to my credit and was in the County under 18 squad. To be a snooker professional was my aim, and to have ‘the best player in the world’ at my local, albeit billiards not snooker, didn’t matter to me. I knew how much harder billiards is to play than snooker; anyone who has played will know. 
They are similar games in a lot of respects, and I was hoping to meet this Norman Dagley to see how he could help me and to see what his thoughts were on the games. After getting into the Hinckley Liberal ‘B’ team, I was a regular face in the snooker room, and I had met some very good players as well as characters. Walter Egginton was my regular practice partner along with his sons Neil and Malcolm who was my long-time pair’s partner. Ronnie Jones from Coventry and the brilliant Alan Orton from Burbage; one of the finest players ever to play in the Hinckley League. 
But where was this Norman fellow? Everyone talked about him, sang his praises and boasted about him, but I had never even seen him. And I was here seven nights a week! 
New Years Eve that year and The Liberal Club was the place to be. The membership was booming, times were good and I had met lots of new friends due to my skill on the snooker table. One of them, Phil Howkins, a great bloke but not a snooker player, had seen me play and praised my ability for my age, invited me to the party in the concert room that evening. It was packed and everyone was laughing and enjoying themselves to the music of ‘Ronda’ a local band. As time was getting on I noticed a chap at the bar in a white sports jacket that seemed to glow in the dark. He stood out like a sore thumb and I said to Phil, “Look at that bloke there”. 
“That’s Norman Dagley”, he replied. The sound of my jaw hitting the ground was deafening. He was chatting to the locals, and I couldn’t take my eyes off him now but for the rest of the night he was never on his own; there was always someone with him. How was I going to talk to him if he wasn’t approachable? And what would I say to him? If this bloke was as good as he was portrayed, he wouldn’t want to talk to a spotty 16 year old kid who thought he could play the game. The night came to a close, and Phil had introduced me to his friends, and I chatted to them politely but with one eye on Norman. Yes, he did look strange, but he had an aura about him that I can’t explain to this day. 

The Grand Bazaar


These pictures in this slideshow are a series of facsimile pages, of the programme of events for the first fund raising effort for the new building project. 
~ Handbook of Grand Bazaar ~ to be held on December 28th and 29th 1908. 
Notice the many different traders from the local area supporting the fund raising project. 

To quote from the Bazaar Brochure:

The EARL SHILTON SOCIAL INSTITUTE which has been in existence 7½ years, is carried on in premises which are not convenient as could be wished. 
If a more suitable building was obtained it would undoubtedly tend to the better working of the Institute as a whole, and also to the comfort of each individual member. It is therefore with the object of raising funds to build more commodious premises that this Bazaar is being promoted. The Institute is worked on as broad principles as possible, being non-political and un-sectarian, so that an appeal is made to all classes for support.


Managers of the stute


Over the years there have been many managers at the Institute. 


George Mawson: c1900-1909

Arthur Hampson: 1909-1926

Charles Wright: 1926-1944

Josiah Pratt: 1944-1956

Harold Gregson: 1956-1965

Lol Hutchinson: 1965-????

Thomas Statham: 1970's

Joan Jones: 1978-1979

D J Collins: 1982-3

Roger Smith: 1985

Jack McKeown: 1986

Nigel Parnell: 1987

A period of direct management by Committee Members: 1987-1993

Bill Underwood: c1993

Barry Elwell: 1994-2004

John Iddon: 2004-2005

Andy Seller: 2005-2006

John Iddon: 2006-2006

Barry Elwell: 2006-2008

Geoff Taylor: 2008-





  • Geo Mawson: c1900-1909
    Geo Mawson: c1900-1909
  • Arthur Hampson: 1909-1926
    Arthur Hampson: 1909-1926
  • Charlie Wright: 1926-1944
    Charlie Wright: 1926-1944
  • Siah Pratt: 1944-1956
    Siah Pratt: 1944-1956
  • Harold Gregson: 1956-1965
    Harold Gregson: 1956-1965
  • Lol Hutchinson: 1965-????
    Lol Hutchinson: 1965-????
  • Tom Statham: 1970's
    Tom Statham: 1970's
  • Joan Jones: 1978-1979
    Joan Jones: 1978-1979
  • D J Collins: 1982-3
    D J Collins: 1982-3
  • Roger Smith: 1985
    Roger Smith: 1985
  • Jack McKeown: 1986
    Jack McKeown: 1986
  • Nigel Parnell: 1987
    Nigel Parnell: 1987
  • Bill Underwood: c1993
    Bill Underwood: c1993
  • Barry Elwell: 1994-2004
    Barry Elwell: 1994-2004
  • John Iddon: 2004-2005
    John Iddon: 2004-2005
  • Andy Seller: 2005-2006
    Andy Seller: 2005-2006
  • John Iddon: 2006-2006
    John Iddon: 2006-2006
  • Barry Elwell: 2006-2008
    Barry Elwell: 2006-2008
  • Geoff Taylor: 2008-
    Geoff Taylor: 2008-
Geo Mawson: c1900-1909
Geo Mawson: c1900-1909

 A History of Snooker 


Short History of SNOOKER

Snooker is a billiards game played on a baize-covered table that has pockets in all four corners and in the middle of each of the long cushions. It is played using a cue, one white ball (the cue ball), 15 red balls and 6 balls of various colours (the 'colours'). The intention of the game is to score points by potting the red and coloured balls in the pockets in the correct order. Snooker is particularly popular in Britain, Ireland, Canada, Australia and India. There has recently been a surge of interest in East Asia, with players from Thailand, Hong Kong and China entering the rankings.

History 

The game of billiards dates back to the 15th century, but snooker is a more recent invention. In the late 19th century, billiards games were popular among British army officers stationed in India, and players used to experiment with variations on the game. The most commonly accepted story is that, at the officers' mess in Jubbulpore in 1875, Colonel Sir Neville Chamberlain (no relation to the later Prime Minister) suggested adding coloured balls to a billiards game. The word 'snooker' was army slang for a first-year cadet. This came to be used for novices to the game, and eventually for the game itself. British billiards champion John Roberts travelled to India in 1885, where he met Chamberlain. Chamberlain explained the new game to him, and Roberts subsequently introduced it to England. 

Snooker championships date back to 1916. In 1927, Joe Davis, by far the best player of the time, helped establish the first professional world championship, and won its prize of £6.10s (£6.50, equivalent to about £200 today). He went on to win every subsequent world championship until 1946. Snooker suffered a decline in the 1950s and 1960s, so much so that no tournament was held from 1958 to 1963. In 1969, the BBC, in order to demonstrate their new colour broadcasts, launched a new snooker tournament, called Pot Black. The multi-coloured game, many of whose players were just as colourful, caught the public interest, and the programme's success wildly exceeded expectations. A few years later, the world championship was first televised, and snooker became a mainstream professional sport. World rankings were introduced in 1977. Money poured into the game, and a new breed of player, typified by Steve Davis, young, serious and dedicated, started to emerge. The first televised maximum break of 147 was achieved in 1982 by Steve Davis. The top players became sterling millionaires. There was even a comic snooker song in the pop charts: Snooker Loopy by Chas & Dave. Perhaps the peak of this golden age was the world championship of 1985, when 18.5 million people (one third of the population of the UK) watched Dennis Taylor lift the cup after a mammoth struggle that finished with the potting of the last possible ball, well after midnight. Snooker remains immensely popular in the United Kingdom, second only to football amongst television viewers.

Governing body 

The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA), founded in 1968 as the Professional Billiard Players' Association, is the governing body for the professional game. Its subsidiary, World Snooker, organises the professional tour. The organisation is based in Bristol, England. The amateur game is governed by the International Billiards and Snooker Federation (IBSF).

The game 

Snooker is played on a rectangular 6' by 12' (about 1.83m by 3.66m) table (often referred to as 'Full Size' as smaller same ratio tables can be used) with six pockets, one at each corner and one in the middle of each long side. At one end of the table (the 'Baulk End' ) is the so-called 'baulk line'. On this line, looking up the table from the 'baulk end', the yellow ball (2 points) is on the right, the green ball (3) on the left and the brown ball (4) in the middle. An easy way to remember these positions is to see the phrase 'God Bless You' the first letter of each word being the first letter of the three colours. At the exact middle of the table sits the blue ball (5), and further down the pink ball (6), followed by the red balls, touching each other and placed in a triangle behind the pink (the pink must be as close as possible to the red ball at the apex of the triangle of red balls without touching it ), and finally the black ball (7) is placed on a spot half way between the back line of reds and the top cushion. The white cue ball can be placed anywhere inside The D (the semi-circle behind the baulk line), although it is normal for players to start by placing the ball on the line, between the brown ball and either the green or yellow ball. 
The game consists of two phases. In the first phase, the players have to play a red ball (that is, play the cue ball so that it is a red ball it first touches). When they succeed in potting a red ball, they get another shot, now at a colour. When this colour is potted, it is replaced on the table - if possible on its own spot, otherwise on the highest remaining spot, or if all spots are occupied, as close to its own spot in a straight line (perpendicular to the baulk line) as is possible without touching the ball sitting there. After this another red has to be played, etcetera. When potting a colour, the game's rules state that a player must nominate the ball he is playing for to the referee; however this is not necessary on most shots because the choice is obvious. The choice is usually only made explicit if two or more coloured balls are in close proximity or near the same line of sight. After the last red and the following colour have been played, the second phase begins. In this phase, all colours have to be potted in the correct order (yellow, then green, then brown, then blue, then pink, then black). 
One scores points by potting the correct ball - 1 point for each red, the ball's value for the colours. 
One also scores points if the opponent makes a mistake such as: 
· not hitting any ball with the cue ball 
· hitting a colour first when a red should be hit, or a red when a colour should be hit, or the wrong colour 
· potting a red when a colour should be potted, or a colour when a red should be potted, or the wrong colour 
· potting the cue ball 
· making a ball go off the table 
· touching any ball other than the cue ball 
· playing a "push shot" 
- a shot where the cue, cue ball and object ball are in simultaneous contact Penalty points are 4 points, the value of the ball that should be hit or the value of the ball that was faulted with, whichever is highest. If a foul has been committed by not hitting the ball on first, or at all, and the referee judges that the player has not made the best possible effort to play a legal shot, then 'foul, and a miss' is called and the other player may request that all balls on the table are returned to their position before the foul, and his opponent play the shot again. (In top class play, this will usually only require the cue ball and a couple of other balls to be moved.) When a foul shot has been played, the player who committed the foul may be asked to go back to the table for another shot if the position is still difficult to play from. The highest possible score in a break that can be achieved without receiving penalty points is 147; in that case, the player must pot the black ball after each red ball in the first phase of the game. Scoring 147 points in a single break rarely occurs in match play. The highest possible score achievable in a single break is 155 points. That happens when an opponent fouls before any balls are potted and leaves every red ball at least partially obscured by a colour. The player nominates and sinks a colour which is scored as a red, then sinks the black for a total of 8 points. He then clears the table to score the 147 points mentioned in the previous paragraph, and adds that to his 8 points for a total of 155 (see also highest snooker break). Due to the 'foul, and a miss' rule, it is possible for an endless number of points to be scored by one player in one frame, if he puts his opponent into a snooker from which the opponent keeps having 'foul, and a miss' called, and he keeps asking for the balls to be replaced. The highest score in one professional frame was achieved in the first round of the 1999 World Championships. Dominic Dale was leading Nigel Bond 1-0 in the frame, when he snookered Bond on all reds. Bond had 'foul, and a miss' called against him 11 times, at four points each for a total of 44 points, before escaping from the snooker. Dale subsequently performed a 122 clearance of the table for a total of 167.

Tournaments 

The most important event in professional snooker is the Embassy World Championship, held annually since 1927 (except between 1958 and 1963). The tournament has been held at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield (England) since 1977. In 2005 it was confirmed the Crucible Theatre will continue to be the venue for at least another 5 years. The group of tournaments that come next in importance are the ranking tournaments. Players in these tournaments score world ranking points. A high ranking ensures qualification for next year's tournaments, invitations to invitational tournaments and an advantageous draw in tournaments. Third in line are the invitational tournaments, to which most of the highest ranked players are invited. The most important tournament in this category is The Masters.

Notable players 

Some of the most famous snooker players are: 
· Joe Davis (England), won the World Championships 15 consecutive times from 1927 to 1946 
· Steve Davis (England), won six World Championships in the 1980s. Nicknamed 'The Nugget'. 
· Ken Doherty (Republic of Ireland), won the 1997 World Championship 
· Tony Drago (Malta), one of the fastest snooker players around, noted for potting the fastest ever maximum break. 
· Stephen Hendry (Scotland), won seven World Championships in the 1990s 
· Alex Higgins (Northern Ireland), won two World championships; 1972 and 1982 
· Ronnie O’Sullivan (England), won two World Championships, most recently in 2004; holder of the record for fastest televised 147 break. Nicknamed 'The Rocket' due to his blisteringly fast rate of potting. 
· John Pulman (England), dominated in the 1960s 
· Ray Reardon (Wales), won six World championships in the 1970s 
· Dennis Taylor (Northern Ireland), won the 1985 World Championship final; also famous for wearing large spectacles. 
· Cliff Thorburn (Canada), the only player from outside the British Isles to win the world championship 
· Bill Werbeniuk (Canada), noted for the large amounts of alcohol he consumed during matches on medical advice to control tremors. 
· Jimmy White (England), the "eternal 2nd", was runner-up in the World Championships six times. The most popular player the game has yet seen, also known as 'The Whirlwind'.

Snooker equipment 

· chalk: The tip of the cue is 'chalked' to ensure good contact between cue and ball. 
· cue: The wooden stick, which is used to strike the cue ball. 
· extension: A shorter stick that fits over the back end of the cue, effectively lengthening the cue. Used to facilitate shots where the cue ball is a long distance from the player. 
· rest: A stick with an X-shaped head that is used to support the cue when the player's arm is too short. 
· spider: Similar to the rest but has an arch-shaped head; it is used to elevate (and support) the tip of the cue above the height of the cue ball. 
· swan: Rarely used - the swan has an single extended neck with a fork-like prong at the end to give extra distance over larger obstructions. 
· triangle: The piece of equipment used for gathering the balls into the formation required by the game being played. Also known as a rack.

Glossary 

· back spin: A shot played by striking the cue ball slightly below centre, the spin causing ball's trajectory to bend against its initial direction of motion. 
· baulk area: The area between the baulk line and the nearest edge. 
· break: Series of consecutive pots by the same player. 
· cannon: A shot where the cue ball stikes more than one object ball. 
· century: A break of 100 points or more. 
· clearance: Break ending with potting the black in phase 2, and thus with an empty table (except for the cue ball). 
· colour: A non-red object ball. 
· drag, drag shot: A shot played over a large distance but with much backspin, often utilized when delicate contact between cue ball and object ball is required. The backspin, or drag, helps to nullify the effects of any deviancies in the table surface that may cause the cue ball to wander off course when played at low speed. 
· frame: A single game in a match over a number of games. 
· free ball: If a foul shot leaves the opponent at least partially snookered (meaning that every 'ball on' is at least partially obscured by a 'ball not on', i.e. for every 'ball on' a 'ball not on' prevents it from being hit in a straight line on any edge), the opponent can elect to play another ball in place of the obscured ball. This is known as a free ball. 
· kick: An unexpectedly poor contact between cue ball and object ball (possibly caused by dirt on either of the balls, or by static electricity). 
· kiss: A soft contact between two balls. 
· massé: A shot played with the cue played in an almost vertical position - used to impart extreme swerve on the cue ball. 
· maximum: The maximum (without fouls) possible score of 147, scored in a single break. 
· miss: A miss will be called if a player does not hit the 'ball on' first and is deemed by the referee to not have made a good enough attempt at the shot. This gives his opponent the option to have the balls replaced as they were and have the fouling player take his shot again. The applied interpretation of the rule has proved controversial. 
· pack: The red balls in their initial position, or, later in a game, the remaining reds remaining together roughly in the initial position. 
· plant: Hitting one ball first, which in turn (possibly indirectly) causes another ball to be potted. This is only legal when either both balls are red or when the ball hit first is a free ball and the ball potted is a ball which would normally have been 'on' if no free ball were given. 
· pot: To hit (a ball) into one of the pockets. 
· push shot: The cue tip maintains contact with the cue ball when the cue ball hits another ball. This is normally deemed a foul, unless the cue and object ball where already almost touching each other and the object ball is hit on a very fine edge. 
· respotted black: When the frame ends with both players having the same number of points, the black is put back on the table, as is the cue ball, and the first player to pot it wins the frame. If a foul shot is committed by either player, that player loses the frame. 
· roll through: A shot played with topspin and making a full contact with the object ball, allowing the cue ball to follow the path of the object. 
· safety: A shot not with the intention to pot a ball, but to leave the opponent with little or no opportunity to make a pot on his next shot. 
· screw, screw shot: A shot with heavy back spin. 
· side, side spin: A shot played with the cue striking the white to one side of centre, used to change the angle at which the white bounces off the cushion. 
· snooker: A snooker is a shot that leaves the opponent unable to hit a legal ball directly. The opponent is said to be snookered. If potting all the remaining balls would still leave a player trailing his opponent, then he is said to be needing snookers. At this point the only way for him to win is to lure the opponent into making fouls. 
· stun shot: A shot played with exactly enough backspin such that the cue ball stops dead upon contact with the object ball. It is also possible to stun across, achieved again by using a precise amount of backspin, but this time hitting the object slightly off centre, causing the two balls to travel perpendicular to each other. 
· swerve: A shot played with extreme spin causing the cue ball's trajectory to be curved. Mainly used to escape from difficult snookers. 
· top spin: A shot played by striking the white slightly above centre, causing the ball to accelerate after contact with on object ball. 
· touching ball: Situation in which the cue ball is touching another ball. The cue ball must be played away from the touching ball. If this is a ball that is to be hit, the ball counts as having been hit. If the ball that is touching the cue ball is caused to move while the shot is being played, then a foul will be called (see push shot). 



A History of Billiards


Origins - Ground Billiards. 


The origin of the Billiards family of games is partially shrouded in mystery but it is many centuries old and almost certainly derived from an out-door game of the croquet family played during the 14th century in Northern Europe. Even the word 'billiard' has a disputed etymology - but it is likely a French derivative coming either from 'billart' (mace) or 'bille' (ball). During the middle-ages and even back to ancient Egypt, many sports were played with balls, clubs, maces or bats and skittles. There are ancient pictures depicting games that are clearly the forerunner of modern Skittles (Americans will know this as 10 pin bowling), Bowls, Quoits and Tennis, for instance. However, records do show one game that is related to Billiards. Sometimes known as 'Ground Billiards', the game was played on a small outdoor court with a hoop at one end and an upright stick at the other. This Croquet-esque pastime required people to strike balls around the court with maces. No rules are known for the game at this time but it seems entirely possible that they would have been pretty similar to the rules outlined for Port & King Billiards. Clive Everton (in his History of Billiards) states that Ground Billiards crystalized into existence in the 1340s and carried on into the 1600s. It was apparently played throughout much of Europe - in Italy it was known as 'biglia', in France 'bilhard', in Spain 'virlota' and some texts say that in England it was known as 'ball-yard' although a source for this has not been found. The game appears to be critical to game history since it apparently led to the families of both Billiards and Croquet games. There is no evidence of an ancestor of Billiards prior to this time, unless you do lower your criteria to count all the other games played with bats, balls and skittles. In 'Sports and Pastimes of England' by James Strutt, there is an illustration of Ground Billiards. Some textbooks claim that this is evidence that of the game being played in the 1200s as it is copied from a 13th century manuscript. In fact, although other diagrams before and after are shown as 14th century, only one is listed as 13th century and the picture in question has no date against it at all. None-the-less, 14th century (1300s) seems to be a reasonable bet, and according the Canadian National Billiards website, the manuscript's date has been estimated to be from 1344.

Port and King Billiards. 

At some point in the 1400s, people began to play a version of Ground Billiards indoors on a table as well. It's likely that the green cloth was supposed to represent the lawn from which the game had been stolen. [Adaptation of outdoor sports for the indoors has happened to other games in Northern Europe at one time or another including Quoits, Old English skittles and Western Skittles and Bowls - presumably players did not want to stop playing when the long nights and inclement weather of winter set in]. The earliest evidence found for the existence of Billiards played on a table was in 1470 in an inventory of items purchased by King Louis XI of France. Listed were "billiard balls and billiard table for pleasure and amusement.". Earliest mentions in England were in 1588 when Billiard tables were in the possession of The Duke of Norfolk and the Earl of Leicester as well as Mary, Queen of Scots, who had a billiard table in her prison cell while she awaited execution. The new table Billiards was apparently an extremely popular game across France by 1630 and in England it was described in various publications during the 1600s and 1700s including the first description of the rules by Charles Cotton in 'The Compleat Gamester' published 1674. Although variations probably existed and there were definitely variations in dimensions and type of equipment, the most popular was a two player game played on a table with six pockets. The pockets, called 'hazards', were simply there as obstacles to be avoided - like bunkers in golf. The table featured a croquet-like hoop at one end called the 'Port' and an upright skittle at the other called the 'King'. Each player was allocated a single ball which was pushed rather than struck with a mace (a stick with a special wooden end). The idea was to be the first through the Port in the correct direction (if your ball went in the 'wrong' direction, you were deemed a 'fornicator') and then back to touch the King without knocking either Port or King over. A point was scored for each time you did this and the winner was the first to a number of points - typically 5. If this sounds simple, remember that the tables were rarely flat, the balls often not completely round and maces were hardly implements of great accuracy. Additionally, in common with Croquet, the game was as much about knocking the opponent's ball into penalties as about furthering one's own cause. Pushing the opponent's ball into a hazard, the wrong way through the Port or causing it to knock over the King was as beneficial as running the Port yourself.... It is also important for the modern player to bear in mind that the concept of a 'break', something we take completely for granted, was completely unknown at this time. Players simply took turns to strike their ball. So it can be imagined that this fundamental difference made all of the older games completely different to play compared with those that we are used to. In common with many other pub games, Billiards was was banned from Taverns in England in 1757 due to its seedy reputation.

Billiard Equipment Development. 

The development of the various forms and families of billiards owes much to changes and improvements to the equipment used. This applies to the balls, the maces or cues, the surface of the table and the side cushions in particular. Without radical improvements to all pieces of equipment used in the game, none of the modern variations of Billiards could exist. There were hundreds of new innovations and changes over the next 2 or 3 centuries but here are a few of the more significant inventions: By the early 1600's, people in mainland Europe sometimes used the handle (or 'queue' - 'tail' in French; later 'cue') of the mace to strike the ball instead of the larger mace head. This was more convenient especially when the ball to be struck was near the edge of the table and this method gradually took over. It wasn't so much that an implement called the cue replaced the mace - more that the pointy end of the mace gradually became thinner and more used while the thick end of the mace gradually became less used. Both the mace and the cue ends of the stick gradually changed in shape. England was resistent to this change for some reason - the cue was available in billiard rooms by 1734, but did not gain real popularity until around 1800. It was used by most players by 1810 and by 1820, following the invention of the leather cue tip, the mace was virtually dead. Balls were originally wooden but by the end of the 1600s, most people played with ivory spheres. However, ivory was never a perfect solution - the balls were never consitently dense and the nerve in the elephant's tusk left a small hole in each ball but it wasn't until 1868 that composition balls were invented by John Wesley Hyatt from New York. Initially, composition balls, too, were far from ideal in various respects one of which being that they would apparently explode if struck too hard, but Hyatt produced a new composition in 1893 that solved most of these problems for good. Early billiard tables were uncovered wood. Cloth covering for tables appeared from around 1660 and the quality gradually improved over the ensuing centuries. In 1807, a french prisoner, François Mingaud, perfected the leather cue tip thereby revolutionising the game by allowing significant control of the cue ball through spin. Many texts say that he invented the leather tip but there is evidence that it existed before this time albeit probably in imperfect form. John Thurston began experimenting with slate as the table bed in 1826 and by 1840 slate had generally succeeded wood as the table body of choice. John Thurston also successfully introduced rubber cushions, the first sale being to the officer's mess of the 42nd Royal Hussars in Corfu on 16th May 1835. Prior to that, cushions were stuffed with flax, cotton or other padded materials and the result was fairly deadening. The trouble with rubber was that the cushions stopped being bouncy when cold. On 15th October 1838, Queen Victoria received (from Thurston at Windsor Castle) the first table that included special cushion-warming hot water pans to overcome this problem. On 6th September 1845, Thurston's obtained a patent to apply the vulcanising process, recently invented by the American Charles Goodyear, to the rubber cushions of billiard tables. This alleviated the coldness problem somewhat and the first set of vulcanised rubber cushions was fitted to Queen Victoria's table at Windsor Castle on 15th October 1845. The formula wasn't too successful to begin with but gradually improved to the form we know today.

The sub-families of Billiards. 

The story of billiards in all it's varieties and with a complete lack of any accepted standards was far from clear up to this point but around now began drifting down several differentiable paths.

Around 1770, Port and King Billiards, which had seen astonishing success having survived for probably more than 3 centuries (Pool and Snooker enthusiasts take note - your games haven't lasted a century yet), began to be superceded in England by two new variations - 'the Winning Game' and 'the Losing Game'in which the Port and King did not feature. This was the first step in the convoluted process that led to English Billiards and Snooker. These games that were naturally exported to most of the British colonies (approximately a quarter of the world at the time) and indeed Snooker, the King of all Billiard games was invented in India. 
Meanwhile, the French had also been creative - the game of Carambole or Carambolage had been invented by 1810 and not long afterwards the French started making tables without any pockets at all which was the start of the the second main branch of the Billiards family tree. 
The new concept of the Cannon, Carom or Carombolage was adapted by the English for their Billiards game and variations of Carambole would become popular across much of Europe, the USA and in some parts of Asia. 
In the 1800s, Americans who up to now had been simply importing and copying what was happening in Europe had started down their own path with new games called One Pocket, Four Ball Billiards and Fifteen Ball Pool which was the first of many games in the American Pool family. Finally, the Italians were playing Pin Billiards, a branch of the game that has found it's way through central and Northern Europe as well as to South America. 
Note - the ambiguous term 'Billiards'. The word 'Billiards' has come to mean different things to different people. Presumably, the original word Billiard referred to the game of Port and King billiards played with the hoop and skittle. Later and still today in England it has come to mean the descendent of this game played with two white and one red ball - we'll call this 'English Billiards'. But as other games began to be played upon the table, Billiards could sometimes simply mean any game played on a Billiards table - i.e. the generic 'Billiards family of games'. In America the word Billiards has different meanings. It can again mean the entire family of cue games played on a table. However, because there are two sorts of table - those with pockets and those without, the American games are divided in two. The generic term for games played on a table with pockets is either 'Pool' or 'Pocket Billiards' while games played on tables without pockets are referred to as just plain'Billiards' or 'Carom Billiards' or just 'Carom'. Not only does this further muddle the term 'Billiards', it also overlaps with the quite different Indian game of'Carrom'! This is just too confusing so the word Billiards will not be used when describing American games - games played on tables with pockets will be 'Pool'; games played on pocketless tables will be called Carambole or Carom Billiards
In Europe and some other parts, Billiards or Billard simply refers to Carambole, the primary game that is played there. Again, the term Carambole will be used for this family of games so as to be clear. 

Noteable Members


Norman DAGLEY. (1929-1999) 
The World Champion: 
A Tribute to Norman was held by the Earl Shilton Constitutional Club in October 2005. 
There's a 'Personal View' by Colin White on his 'reflections' further above on this page
And a 'Personal View' by Jim McCann on his 'reflections' further above on this page

More Recognition.
In 2010 the Borough Council recognised Norman's achievements by erecting a 'Blue Plaque' by the entrance to the building.
A permanent tribute to the most notable member of the Institute.
The official unveiling ceremony took place at 2:30pm on Oct 26th 2010. 
Councillor Richards, Norman's brother Ken, and Committee members were in attendance.

The Wright Brothers


Reginald Charles WRIGHT. (Reg) (1914-1988)(Lt) 
There's a profile on the 'Leicestershire Star' page. 
Published 1950 The Billiard Player.

John Trevor WRIGHT. (Jack) (1918-2004)(Rt) 
Obituary Published 2005 The Hinckley Times. 
There's a Hinckley Times report (1932) on the 
National Championship.