Open up pockets on a modern snooker table for teaching aid in Nottingham, plus coaching scheme for up and coming younger players

Today I have been over to one of our regular clients whose table I have recovered around three times now.  My client has recently passed his coaching course and is awaiting DBS clearance to work with young snooker players to coach them to a higher level of play.

In readiness to coach these younger players, it was recommended to him that to keep them interested in the game, they should play on a table with wider pocket openings.  As our client has his own personal table, he decided to widen the pocket openings from match play 3.5 inches (as seen on TV) to 3 3/4 inches, a 1/4 of an inch wider.
The pocket opening after the alteration is now 3 3/4 inches at the drop of the slate fall.

We will keep you informed about our client’s new venture, and if any young person, male or female, wishes to have a personal snooker coach, then our client has the facility to coach one-on-one or to small groups of 2 to 4 persons.
The excellent Riley Aristocrat snooker table in light oak is now ready for coaching, having just undergone pocket widening and the fitting of a brand new Strachan 6811 Tournament 30 oz all wool cloth.  The room is fully heated and the table plays very fast and true.  It also benefits from pro-style lighting and Aramith Pro 1G snooker balls.

Replace standard Snooker cushions with steel block cushions on this Oak Riley Square leg in Derby

The majority of Snooker / Billiard tables were made in Mahogany, so finding second hand cushions in oak is not an easy thing to do, finding them with steel cushions is almost impossible.  But I managed to track a set down for my second cousin and old school friend Mick Kirkham.

Last Christmas I installed a snooker table that Mick had bought many years previously from Anthony Hamilton, the snooker player from Nottingham, and had it installed in an outside barn.  This time he was having it put in a new extension basement purposely built for the table. Mick and his Brother totally stripped and renovated all the wood work on the frame and the standard Riley cushions, before I re-rubbered them and erected the table.

Here are a few photo’s of that install last year. Before I show the upgrade to Burroughs and Watts period steel cushions circa 1895.
slate in basement lowering in
Mick used a crane to load the slates into  the basement before he capped a floor over the basement

When first installed Mick had the original set of Riley cushions on.  He had heard of steel block cushions and he said if I ever came across a period set of steel cushions with oak surround he would upgrade to these.
Above photo: the table when finished in December 2013.
Again a photo of his original Riley oak cushions in December 2013 when I put new Northern rubber onto them and cut the pockets for this Riley table .
Kirkham cushion son before recover of steels
11 months later November 2014 , and above you see the same table but this time I have just fitted the steel cushions and had re-rubbered these cushions and re-cut the pocket openings and  angles to Professional template size.
The above photo shows the cushions after this successful operation.  I call this the dry run fitment to make sure everything aligns up.  It is always best to re-rubber on the table the cushions are going on and not to guestimate the pocket openings on a work bench.
You will see we are protecting the bed cloth with sheets of cardboard during this fitting process.
kirkham corner template uncovered steels in position
This next photo shows the replacement second hand steel cushions on the table with the template fitted snug within the jaws of the pocket opening.
Note the thickness of the steel plate, on this early prototype steel set the plate is 1/2 inch thick, on late steels they are 3/8th thick.  Also the end of the steels is angled on early sets and straight on later sets as the next two photos will show.
There are not many early 1/2 inch thick sets of steel cushions around so an even rarer find with this set.
Kirkham early type angle steel ends
In this photo my finger is pointing to the angle of the steel plate where it meets the end tack wood block.   These end blocks are very difficult to make as you have to work to angles and rebates to make them.
As you cans see from this later edition steel cushion the angle is now not here and the steel is longer to almost come to the end before the end tack block is seen.  You can also get other variations of steels with compound angles where the actual steel is also bevelled at the ends, this is how the modern steel block cushion you see on star tables today have evolved.  Burroughs and Watts were experimenting as they went along in production, so it is easy to spot an early type built around the time they first used steels in the year 1895/6.
Early type had thicker steel and angles on the end.
Kirkham shavings with slips on table
I add this photo to show my fitting friends in Canada that you actually shave slips of wood down to trap the cushion cloth into the back routed out slot in the steel cushion and not use spray on glue contact adhesive
Kirkham slip in back of steels
This photo shows the planed down slip inserted by tapping in with a flat thin plate into the rear of the steel cushion, that is what the slot on the rear of steel cushions is for.
Note the Strachan 6811 tournament cloth, this is what we recommend for good quality play and good life span. 100% pure new wool no man made fibre mix with this cloth, as Tina Turner sang, it’s simply the best !
Kirkham corner steels template in
Kirkham centre steels template in
The above two photo’s show the cushions fitted tot he Riley table, and with the templates in position fitting snug.  We also fitted a new set of Peradon leathers and best quality nets.
When mick tried to strip the cushions of the oak Steel surrounds, they would not stain up light oak, this was down to the age of the oak and the stains it had taken before not coming out, so he stained it a honey oak and also re-stained the frame to match.
kirkham riley steels finished spot endkirkham-finished-table-610x457
As you can see the table in 2013 with standard cushions and the table in 2014 with steel cushions fitted
Kirkham old cushions stacked up
This leaves Mick with a problem with what to do with a fantastic condition set of Riley oak cushions that will fit a Riley table with welsh slate and 5 bolt holes on the side cushions.  I have instructed him to put them up for sale on my web site for £350 the set.
They come with new Northern rubber fitted in December 2013 at a cost of £325, all the wood work repaired some with new bottom mouldings, sealed and finished and come complete with the original pocket plates and nets and leathers.
Anyone who has an old oak Riley table with knackered cushions that require a re-rubber and also broken wood work, then look no further. These cushions would be a much better buy than having your old cushions re-rubbered and the wood renovated.
Kirkham set of old riley cushions and pocket plates

They come with all slide in panels and an end Riley name plate period to the table, and the cushion cloth has not had more than 40 games played on it.

I will be advertising this set of cushions for sale in the for sale section of our web site so if you are interested in them please phone Geoff on 07753466064 , it will be cash on collection from Ockbrook near Derby.

Wanted 2 x 7ft second hand mechanical coin operation supreme winner pool tables

DOUBLE 8 POOL our rental side of GCL Billiards  are looking for two second hand 7 foot  Supreme winner pool tables , they must be coin operating tables and mechanical coin operation type not battery operated although the battery type may be considered .
prefer Black finish cabinets , but we cannot be too fussy so mahogany oak beech or even white will do .
Remember we are trade and can get the tables  at a competitive price new , when we buy these tables we have to take into account the cost of pick up ( van and two men ) and delivery back to base , plus new cushions and re-cover . and new balls and cue’s etc
we normally get the tables in like the second photo below with all stains on the cloth plus dead cushions .

If you have a Supreme winner or even a Prince coin op table or tables for sale then contact Geoff on 07753466064 if I am busy leave a message I will get back to you , also email

winner green mahoganyworn cloth supreme

These two tables are for a special low rental short 6  month period, we normally put brand new tables into establishments that we think will have a long rental period from us , so with the low rental agreement or high risk premises from damage ,we are not putting our brand new tables into these establishments  , so we are looking for tables to refurbish , if you have say a batch of 6 of these tables in need of restoring with new cushions and cloth we will also consider buying all 6 . all we ask is the cabinets are in good cosmetic order and the slate is in good condition .
Torn or stained cloth or dead rubber is not important we can replace these items .
Remember we are looking for COIN OPERATING tables only !

Local Nottingham club with carved Thurston snooker table gets two recovers

The last two days, Friday and Saturday, I have been working in a local club in Nottingham re-covering 2 full sized snooker tables.  One is very interesting, being an oak carved scroll type Thurston table circa 1920 /30.  The other a Riley Imperial also circa 1930s with new Riley Aristocrat standard cushions which they use as the match table.

Below a few photos of the carved oak Thurston table and two of the match table and pocket opening.

oak thurston decor leg 3
The carved oak Thurston table leg and side frame.
Oak thurston decor 1
This club has plenty of cue room around the tables.
oak thurston decor panel 2
These highly carved cushion panels hide the cushion bolts and slide on and lock into place.

Below the match table.
oakleigh match table riley imperial

The match table in this club has new Riley Aristocrat cushions which were fitted around 10 to 15 years ago.  The original table is an oak Riley square leg Imperial with good 2 inch thick welsh slates.  The pockets on this table are very generous, being 3 3/4 inches at the slate fall.  This is a full 1/4 of an inch larger than the standard match size 3.5 inches at the fall.

The carved oak Thurston table has 3 5/8ths at the fall, 1/8th of an inch larger than standard match size.
oakleigh match table three quarter
3 3/4 inches at the fall pockets.  I have fitted new nets and leathers, but I ran out of leathers for the oak carved table so I will call back and fit new ones at a later date.

I will also point out that the last fitter used a compressor stapler with 12mm staples which took an age to dig out.  6mm and 4mm infills would have done the job and made for an easy strip down, which is what I have done.  I always do a job with the intenton that it is going to be me who has to strip down the table next time.  Using smaller staples not only helps me to achieve this, but the blockwork that the cloth is stapled to also lasts longer when you do not have to dig the old staples out.

I have advised them to replace the light shades with the new High Frequency lighting (like the photo of some in a Derby club below) and they are looking into it.
pro lighting old shade under

Installed rare 9ft Riley Viceroy in oak, fitted new rubber and cloth in Lincolnshire

Todays work was to set up a 9ft Snooker table, a rare 9ft Riley Viceroy in oak.  The cushions having been picked up and re-rubbered at the weekend, we returned today to set the table up.
Oak 9ft  viceroy
You may notice that this square leg Riley table has very deep archways fitted between the legs, giving the Viceroy its distinctive look, of a very solid table.  There are not many Viceroys about and this 9ft one must be a very rare beast indeed.  I have seen plenty of the Riley Imperial which is almost the same table with only small archways, but not many 9ft Viceroys in my 37 years of fitting.
Oak 9ft re-rubber woodhall spa
The re-rubbered cushions with best Northern Rubber UK manufactured not your Chinese rubbish.
oak 9ft viceroy cloth draped

The new cloth just before fitting, note it has the embroidered logo of Strachan and is 6811 Tournament quality, again made in the UK from the finest of wool.  The archways veiwed from this angle really look impressive and for anyone not too keen on square legs, picture this table or its full size version, in a barn conversion with matching oak beams.
oak 9ft viceroy fitting cushions on
The cloth has been hand stretched on, marked out and spotted then ironed.  Next job was the refitting of the cushions and those brand new nets, leathers and ball rails.
oak 9ft viceroy finished balls on

The finished table set up and ready for play.  Note the brand new condition pool table on its side in the background.  If anyone is looking for a nice attractive pool table this one is going for less than half price complete with new lighting shades cues and rests etc at £450.  It is the home play version and retails at around £899 plus delivery and shade which this one has, a three section brass one.
oak 9ft viceroy end shot balls on
The table looking from the black end.  Notice all the pool trophies on the far wall, the client is a local pool shark by the looks of it.
oak 9ft viceroy matching roller scoreboard
Our client was lucky enough to get the original matching roller scoreboard worth around £500 on its own retail in a billiards shop in this condition (also made by Rileys) and a vintage cue wall rack with original bone clips.
oak 9ft viceroy rubber plate sheffield
When our client first contacted GCL Billiards, he informed us that the table was a Fitzpatrick & Longley of Sheffield.  I put him right when I first looked at the table on the cushion collection day that is was a Riley Viceroy.  The end plate you see here was put on by this firm and the original Riley one has been taken off.  If you look slightly to the right of the plate you can see where the original screw holes for the larger Riley plate used to be.  The firm should not have removed the Riley plate.  This badge was put on becuase they did a re-rubber, probably in the 1950s as the table is circa 1920/30.  The plate is just advertising the Eclipse frost proof cushion by Fitzpatrick & Longley.  They should have fitted it to the other end panel and left the Riley plate on the table.
oak 9ft viceroy fitted new GCL lighting by dextra
To round things off the client also had a new light fitted, the new twin tube High Frequency type by Dextra with COOL WHITE LIGHT tubes fitted.  This being a 9ft table a 6ft twin version is all that was required to light the table up.  The table is situated in a special games room at the bottom of the garden.  It is one of the better built buildings I have seen for such use, a real man cave … but I think his partner has other ideas about its use.

If you have a table you would like setting up or dismantling, moving and setting up, then ask GCL Billiards for a quote, or phone 07753 466064.