Norman Clare and Roger Lee



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Norman Clare gathered together a wonderful collection of Snooker and Billiards memorabilia that is kept at the Liverpool offices of Thurston.

Amongst this collection is a group of cues that span the later years of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th.

I visited the museum about two years ago with my friend Andy Hunter; this trip was made on an appointment basis and lasted for almost half a day. Sadly Norman Clare is no longer with us but Andy and I had the pleasure of meeting his son, Peter Clare, Peter was a very polite, courteous and friendly host.

After looking at the collection at Thurston’s I managed to get hold of Norman Clare’s book “Billiards and Snooker Bygones” and some of his Cue World magazine articles from the early 1980’s. The articles and the book are tremendously well researched and quite an informative read for anyone that is interested in the history of billiards and Snooker.

Norman probably considered that anything from the 1920’s onwards was too modern to be included in his writing, in any detail, that is why I have felt the need to write in some detail about the cues that I have owned and seen that continues right up to the 1950’s. Not that my writing should necessarily be compared to his.

Clive Everton’s Books are equally well written and researched but having more than one view of these now historical figures is always welcome.

Norman Clare wrote in his book about the equipment and innovations of the Billiards and Snooker industry, the collection at Thurston also reflects his interest in the gimmicks of days gone by. There are cues made of metal, odd shaped tables and balls made from various materials.

If you are interested in the history of the game, I would recommend a visit to Thurston as it is something of an all the year round snooker and billiards heritage collection.

Another attraction that is well worth visiting is Roger Lee’s Billiards and Snooker Heritage Room, this is set up each year throughout the duration of the World Snooker Championships at the Crucible Theatre Sheffield.

Roger sells books and has a few old cues as well. This celebratory display is particularly good for viewing old posters, trophies and some antiquated equipment along with Roger himself of course.

Roger also sells a selection of videos that show old film of the greatest billiards players of the 1920’s and 1930’s, these videos are a must for anyone interested in Walter Lindrum, Joe Davis or any of the other top players of their era.

Roger has also produced an album of historical postcards that relate to Billiards and Snooker, which is reasonably priced and quite an interesting read.

David Smith

Links to selected articles from Cue World magazine – Norman Clare Retrospective: