W. Jelks & Sons
As result of and email to the 'Snooker Heritage ' web site
asking about a table supplied and installed by W. Jelks & Sons
and finding that there was only a couple of letters and a brochure
or two in the collection, it seemed further research was
This article about W. Jelks & Sons has been written with
information supplied by Peter Ainsworth, without which the article
would have been a lot shorter!
The earliest mention of the business indicates it was
established in 1835 by Arthur and William Jelks' father. There is
an advert in 1877 of Mr. Jelks of 275 Holloway Road N. London
selling a horse! It also seems that the business almost failed in
1886 when a "Receiving Order' against William Jelks , Holloway
Road, furniture dealer was issued but that order was rescinded.
In the early years the business did seem to mainly dealing in
domestic furnishings as in 1893 there is reference to the sale of
linoleum and the business description was 'furniture dealers' of
Holloway Road, Finchely.
The two picture above were kindy
supplied by Margaret Edwards a relative of the Jelk's family who
sent the picture for inclusion from her home in Australia.
However in the early 1900's the
"Challenge" Combined Billiard Dinning Table was patented and the
business stated that it was made entirely in their works at
By 1909 W. Jelks & Sons were
manufacturing full size Billiard tables as shown by the fact that
in January 1909 a Billiard match between W. Cook and J. Mack was
played on a Jelks table. In the report of the match, which was 750
up and played at the Holloway Station Hotel, Holloway Road. It
states "this was the first full size table built by them (Jelks)".
Mr. Picard is the manager of the Jelks Billiard Dept. at 263 to 275
An advert in January also offered "Second hand Portable Tables
as well as two full size Thurston & Bennett, a 10ft by Wright
& Co and a Riley Billiard Dining Table by E.J. Riley. All the
tables on offer could be bought on easy terms.
In April of that year (1909) there is a report that 'the funeral
took place of Mr. Arthur Jelks, one of the partners of the well
known firm of W. Jelks & Sons house furnishers and billiard
table manufacturers of Holloway Road'.
Whilst in 1911 they listed second hand tables by other makers
such as Burroughes & Watts, Cox & Yeman and Thurston. They
were also keen to promote their second hand furnisher sales as
adverts from 1914 & 15 show - "The showrooms comprise 250000
square feet of floor space with £50,000 stock of high grade second
hand furniture of all kinds on view.
After the 1914-18 War they ran an advert in 1919 as follows -
"W. Jelks & Sons will be please to tender for the purchase of
the entire contents of Officers' mess or surplus furniture from
Camps, recreation huts etc. "
Although they still prompted the second hand furnisher side of
their business it does seem that they were still making and selling
Billiard Tables as the letter sent to the "Billiard Player"
magazine in July 1922 shows
This letter also includes the 'new'
additional business address of Eden Grove.
From the 1920's Jelks seem to have
moved into the Billiard market in quite a big way as the following
adverts indicate. They not only supplied Billiard Tables but
offered all the accessories and a recovering service as well.
a 1922 advert
A 1931 advert claiming to have the
largest stock of secondhand Billiard tables in the Trade
Another 1931 adverts claims to be
'The largest stock of reconditioned Billiard Dining tables in the
This 1936 advert now claims to be
the 'the World largest Billiard Table Dealers'.
Although during that period they still ran adverts for their
second hand furnisher boasting the showroom was now 800000square
feet with £100,000 worth of stock. The advert below is we believe
circa 1930 based on the mention of the Billiard Dining Tables.
In 1936 the firm became a Limited Company so the following
picture of a page from a sale leaflet listing the second hand
combined Billiard Diners is circa 1930.
The next picture is from the front of a sales leaflet produced
by Jelks sometime before the death of William Jelks as the
Directors list still has his name in it.
The sales leaflet not only list some full size tables but had a
fine spread of seven Combine Billiard Dining Tables as well as a
Bar Billiard Table. The next three pictures are from that sale
(Note the statement - "Cannot lend
itself to gambling" !! see also the bar billaird story)
In 1942 the death of William Jelks was reported in the May
addition of the Billiard Player
In the report there is reference
to the Billiard table used by Joe Davis during his 'fund raising'
for the War Effort. A picture of the table shows Joe Davis lining
up a shot and the huge mirror which was angled over it so that the
audience could see the shots that were played.
The next advert is after they became a
limited company circa 1946 and they started to call themselves
"Jelks of Holloway".
In 1947 a consortium made up of Mr. W.M. Jelks, Joe Davis &
Sidney Smith re-opened the Leicester Square Match rooms that
Thurston had moved out from in 1940. The opening was reported in
the Billiard Player as follows -
It must have been quite a night!
It also seemed that in 1948 they used
the Leicester Square address as additional showroom as the business
card pictured below. It still list "Fine Furniture" in the main
body of the card.
We also have a couple examples of letters one from 1948 the
other from 1949 both of which show that the company was able to
offer 'term payments' for Billiard tables.
The a couple of pictures are taken from a small sales leaflet
listing the accessories and it seems they had reduced release some
business space in Eden Road as it list only 3-5 Eden Road rather
than nos. 1 to 16 listed in early docuements.
In 1954 there is a report - Notice of Appointment of Liquidators
- W. Jelks & Sons Ltd. Nature of business House furnishers,
warehousers, removers and billiard table builders. The liquidators
were listed as William Murray Jelks and Frank Arthur Jelks both of
263-275 Holloway Road. Date of appointment 31st March 1954 - from
the fact that the Jelks were the liquidators it must be assume that
they had decided to cease trading.
In October 1957 the following appeared in The Billiard Player
"We regret to report the death of (W.M.) "Bob" Jelks, member of
the firm W. Jelks & Son Ltd. of London. Mr. Jelks was
co-director, with Joe Davis and Sydney Smith of Leicester Square
Hall, and his firm organised the Professional Snooker Championship
Final of 1946 between Joe Davis and Horace Lindrum. The Match was
staged at the Horticultural Hall, and attracted large crowds
throughout its 12 day duration. Bob Jelks was a true enthusiast of
The final note published in December 1958 reads - Appointment of
Liquidators - Liquidators names and Addresses : Frank Arthur Jelks
formerly of 263-275 Holloway Road, London N7,now of Lower Farm,
Cottered , Herts., and Leslie Frederick Couzens, 38 Manchester
Road, Tottenham, London N 15 (in place of William |Murray Jelks,
Acknowledgement - Peter Ainsworth - for supplying much detail
and pointing out which copies of the Billiard Player magazine in
the collection to look at for some of the pictures used.
All pictures & scans from Heritage Collection sources.
©2013 Peter N. Clare & E.A.
Clare & Son Ltd.
This article can only be reproduced with the permission of E.A.
Clare & Son Ltd.