Table 1 refurbished at the Nottingham Snooker Academy

Today we brought forward a recover that we should be doing next week, but with a holiday booked we moved it forward.

Table one, the first table as you enter the Nottingham Snooker Academy, is a Riley Club circa 1920/30.  These are one of Rileys most popular tables off the production line.  You may notice that the legs have some rings turned into the middle section.  You will find this type of table in nearly every snooker club in the country.  They made them in their thousands and must have been the most popular model Riley have ever made, along with the basic square leg Imperial model.
NSA Table 1 Nottm snooker Academy
NSA practice on new cloth table 1
Lined up for practice, the new recover gets a try out before a match.  Note the table in the foreground, this is the next table lined up for a refurb next month.  This really shows the old nets and leathers and old cloth up with a fresh re-covered table next to it.
NSA close up practice on T1
A close up of the re-furbished playing surface in Strachan 6811 Tournament 30 ounce cloth plus new nets and leathers.
acadamy finished table
Just to show the difference, above the old lighting in the Academy before the fitment of the modern lights.  This is yellow light and dingy showing bright spots of the bulbs on the cloth.  Below the new lighting, bright white light, high frequency non-flicker.  Which would you rather play under ?
NSA all 4 with lights and seating
The new look Embankment cue sports room, now hosting the new Nottingham Snooker Academy, with plush seating on a raised plinth for good viewing.  Plus the new high frequency twin tube lighting with cool white lighting tubes, less shadow, better sightlines, better for the fitter to see what he is re-covering.  It’s a win-win situation, a great snooker venue for serious match play and to learn the game from a qualified coach.

GCL Billiards are proud to be associated with the Nottingham Snooker Academy.  We even wear the new NSA logo on our black polo shirts, along with the NBSA logo.  We also display both logos on our new van.  We like to do our bit to promote the venue.
polo shirt logos

Back to work after 5 day holiday break

Having been solid for work for the last 11 months (time has flown by).
new movano 3500 125 van

I am ready to start the month of June with a large amount of work already booked in, including two pool table re-covers and another full size snooker table to re-cover at the Nottingham Snooker Academy.  A full size snooker table to dismantle in Skegness and two more full size tables to re-cover in Nottingham.
A new van has been ordered to reduce the hassle of moving full sized snooker tables.  We used to rent the vans out for these removal jobs, but now we are fully equipped in-house to do it ourselves.  This makes for less wasted time collecting and returning hire vans and we can be on a job as early as 6am ready to start, rather than at the hire van company coming out with a van by 9.30am.

My smaller van was capable of moving anything up to a 10ft snooker table, but just could not manage a full size 12 foot table.  The new van is equipped to carry 1610kg, well within the weight limits of a full size snooker table plus tools plus two men.  I got a fantastic deal on the new van discount wise and a good part exchange price for the old van.

We will be sign writing the new van up with a special photo wrap and sign writing, so look out for us on the road.
academy logo nottingham
acadamy 3.5 inch pocket

The second week we will be moving 6 x 9ft Sam K steel American Pool tables and re-covering them in speed cloth 3 red 3 purple.

The third week of June we are fitting light units, relocating a table and possibly a re-cover on a full size.
oak 9ft viceroy fitted new GCL lighting by dextra

If anyone requires work doing in June and July we still have a few days left to fill for work.  Please contact Geoff on 07753 466064 or by email

Snooker or pool tables re-covered and re-rubbered.  we also supply.  Cool white light high frequency cue sports lighting  this lighting is sweeping the country at the moment , replaceing those coffin shades  .  our sister company double eight pool for Pool table Contract hire etc.

GCL Billiards are proud to be associated with the NEW Nottingham Snooker Academy at The Embankment, Trent Bridge

The Nottingham Snooker Academy opens its doors today with phase one of the refurbishment of the tables by GCL Billiards.

acadamy finished table
Please read the following article from the Nottingham Snooker website for full details of this exciting news to hit the Nottingham Snooker scene.
academy logo nottingham

The Embankment, 282-284 Arkwright Street, Trent Bridge, is pleased to announce the launch of Nottingham Snooker Academy.
The Academy is the brainchild of Steve Butler, who runs the Nottingham Snooker website and is also on the Committee of the Nottinghamshire Billiards & Snooker Association.
“I remember reading an article by Ray Yeomans back in 2009.  Ray was asking where all the young snooker players in Nottinghamshire had gone.  It made me realise that very few youngsters were taking up the sport and someone needed to do something about it.” said Steve.
Steve has persuaded sixteen local players to help him by putting their hands in their pockets in order to raise enough funds to bring the snooker tables and accessories up to the required standard.
“That is phase one of the plan” said Steve. “We will have all four tables re-rubbered and re-covered by Long Eaton based GCL Billiards.  We’ll also invest in new balls and equipment, including new TV style lighting.  In the autumn a few of us will be going on a coaching course so that we will be able to start coaching local children in the basics of the game.  We have Barry Stark firmly on board.  He is a WPBSA qualified coach and he has agreed to help us devise a coaching scheme for the youngsters.”
“This is a brilliant idea and I’ll support it in any way I can.  It’s just what Nottingham needs and hopefully we’ll help to discover the next Ronnie O’Sullivan right here in Nottingham.” said Barry.
Andrij Jurkiw, Operations Manager at The Embankment, is very excited about the Academy.  He commented “When Steve approached me with this idea I thought it was wonderful.  Our snooker tables were under-used and we were not sure how we could attract new players to come and use them.  This idea of Steve’s will benefit The Embankment, local youngsters and the founder members, who will all receive free table time in return for their investment.”
Nottingham Snooker Academy launched on 1st May 2013 and it will hopefully start recruiting youngsters for coaching sessions in the Autumn.  You can keep up to date on the developments by visiting or by popping along to The Embankment (see for opening hours).

The following photographs show some of the work that has been done to bring the tables up to a good playing standard using best Northern Rubber made in the UK in Retford, Nottinghamshire and Strachan 6811 Tournament cloth.

All that is now required for the first table is pro match lighting which is being sorted ASAP.  All of the tables will have this new lighting as they get the refurb of cloth, nets and leathers in the coming weeks.

Below the pocket opening before re-rubbering.  We noticed that they were far too tight, having 3 1/4 inch at the fall and 2 3/4 inch at the rear of the pocket.  They should be 3.5 inch at the fall to be as close to the steel block Star TV tables as possible.
Acadamy before re-rubber old pockets openings

Below the pocket opening after the re-rubber, cut as close to steel block openings as the woodwork would allow.  They are now 3.5 inch at the slate fall and 3 inch at the rear.  A 2 1/16th ball at the pocket opening to compare for size.  We also renewed the nets and leathers.

acadamy 3.5 inch pocket

Below the table checked for level and slate joints filled, although I must say they did not require much filling, just a couple of slight chips out of the slate thats all.  Notice the raised seating, this makes viewing the play very good.  There is plenty of cue room around the tables and I am sure Barry Stark will make good use of the venue to teach up and coming players the art of the game.

Once the old fashioned Joe Davis endorsed Hartley engineered metal billiard shade lighting is replaced with the new high frequency white light twin tube units, the club will have a first class venue for staging league snooker and exhibitions.
acadamy table leveling

Below the new rubber fitted to the blocks, date of manufacture is February 2013.

acadamy new rubber

Some history of The Embankment and the billiards tables located there

The Embankment (formerly The Embankment Club) used to be called Boots Social club and is a listed building.  The tables have been in situ for many years and Geoff Large has worked on them in the past.  Two of the tables (number 1 & 2) are E J Riley make (circa 1910).  Tables 3 & 4 (circa 1920) were locally made in Nottingham by John Gent who had showrooms and office on Broad Street and a factory on Convent Street.  This was later to become Elstons of Broad Street.

In 1938 Elstons joined forces with another local Nottingham billiard hall owner called John Stewart Hopkin of Hyson Green and became Elston & Hopkin Billiards Ltd.  They moved to the Empire Theatre building on Goldsmith Street as the main head office and billiard hall.   That is why they named their cushions the ‘Empire Match Cushion’.  You can see this nameplate on many tables that were re-rubbered by Elston & Hopkin Billiards Ltd up until 2004.

Geoff Large of GCL Billiards was time served trained at Elston & Hopkin Billiards Ltd and worked for the company until the Limited Company ceased trading in March 2004.   This was when John Hopkin jnr officially retired in his 80s!  John Hopkin jnr  is still alive and lives in Wollaton, Nottingham.

In  1980 the Empire Snooker Hall was closed down and demolished to make way  for the new Royal Concert Hall building.  Elston and Hopkin Billiards Ltd relocated to Newark Street and had the top floor with an 18 table snooker hall and office showrooms and workshop.  This was sold off in 2002 and is now the Spot On snooker club.  I have many fond memories of working out of the Newark Street premises.

As you can see there is a direct link from John Gent who made two of the tables at The Embankment, through Elston’s who took over Gents, then to Elston and Hopkin Billiards Ltd and finally to GCL Billiards.  A continuation of billiard fitting in the Nottingham, Derby and East Midlands area.

Anyone requiring work on their cue sports table could not wish for a better firm than GCL Billiards, with such a rich history of billiards fitting handed down from fitter to fitter for over 100 years.  You can be assured that we know what we are doing.