Bar billiards is a historic game, widely thought to be based on bagatelle, the same game that spawned modern pinball tables. This particular antique table was originally produced by William Jelkes and Son; the manufacturers of the finest (and first) bar billiard tables in the world, and is currently undergoing a painstaking restoration by our craftsmen here in Weybridge.
The game involves scoring points by potting balls in holes on the playing surface of the table rather than in pockets and was originally developed from the French billiard, providing a less expensive option for those who were unable to afford the the very costly tables used by the French aristocracy in the 15th century. The game was transformed into Billiard Russe during the 16th century for the Russian Tsars.
Bar billiards was first imported into the UK in the early 1930s when David Gill, an Englishman witnessed a game of Billiard Russe taking place in Belgium. It immediately found favour in the pubs because it required far less space than a game of pool, which needed a much larger cueing area on all sides. With bar billiards all the shots are taken from one end of the table so it could often be squeezed into the nooks and snugs of country taverns.
Its name derives not from its association with bars, but because a wooden bar drops after a timed limit, preventing any more balls becoming available for use. After the balls remaining on the table are potted, the game is over. In England, games are allowed to last up to nineteen minutes and it’s possible for a skilled starting player to play for the entirety of the time available without allowing his opponent a shot. This is called running the clock out, and can result in some large breaks.
A full length competition table, the Jelkes Bar Billiards is six feet long, outfitted with its original thick Welsh slate and an oak finish. It is sold with its original timer clock, wooden scoreboard, wooden skittles and a set of bar billiards balls, along with two premium cues.
Our founder, Reginald Waldersmith, was attracted to Bar Billiards for its quintessential Britishness. Although he himself admitted he was far from skilled, he became a keen player after he was introduced to it in 1958, and ran the clock out for the first time in 1980, a feat he contentedly described as ‘my own personal Crucible.’ We’ve been selling tables since 1962, so know a thing or two about our products! Our showroom will gladly assist you on any questions you may have before or after you purchase any Games Room Company equipment.