Raper & Sons

Founded in Manchester in 1845


Thomas Raper the founder

Picture of Thomas Raper - founder of the business - taken from a Raper sales leaflet circa 1988


The Billiard & Snooker Heritage Collection, sadly, does not have much information or catalogues of this once famous Manchester Billiard firm. What we can glean from the papers is that it was founded in 1845 in Spear Street, Piccadilly, Manchester.

According to one advert it was founded by Thomas Raper, who had moved from York and set up the business and whose two sons Thomas and James then joined him. In a an article that was published in the "Manchester Evening News", when the business moved in the early 1970's, it states that brothers Thomas Eachus Raper and James Richardson Raper set up the business in 1845. However as the firms business name was Raper & Sons, it is perhaps correct to assume that the Thomas Raper set up the business and his sons then joined him.

From the book 'A Trade History' compiled by J.R. Mitchell the information on the business was supplied by Gordon Raper Ingham, who was a direct decendant of the founder.

The article from that book confirms that Thomas founded the business after moving from York and that when his sons Thomas & james joined the business. James was the salesman with Thomas being a skilled craftsman work at the bench.


In 1861 there is a reference to a Burroughes & Watts Billiard table being supplied for a Match between Roberts & Bowles at the Manchester Corn Exchange, with the table being 'fitted' by Mr. Raper of Manchester.

There is reference to the business moving in the 1880's first to Friday Street, Manchester and later in that decade to larger premises in Hilton Street, Manchester.

A patent for a cushion bolt with a screw thread for the cushion button was registered to the business in Novermber 1889 - patent number 18875

Raper patent 1889

Raper 1889 patent for Billiard Table

Improvement of Billiard table

Copies from the 1889 Patent Application showing it was Accepted on 1st February 1890 also confirms the business address as 10 Hilton Street, Manchester


Sometime in the 1890's the business moved to lager premises in Lever Street, Manchester and in the early 1900's they moved again to Stevenson Square and it was reported in World Billiards magazine dated October 1903 as following comments.

Raper World of Billiards 1903
So it would seem that they had moved back to Hilton Street but had kept their factory in Lever Street.

Sometime after the 1914 -18 war the business looked for smaller premises as the trade had declined and so they moved to 2 Cavendish Street, Stretford Road, All Saints, Manchester 15.

In 1949 Tom Raper decided to retire and the business was taken over by his nephew Gordon Raper Ingham and he formed a new company called Raper & Sons Ltd.

In 1957 an article appeared in the "Manchester Evening News' giving a description of the renovation/ repair work that the firm carried out in its work shop. Rapers used the article as an adevertising flyer.

Raper Manchester Evening News


When the article was written the business was located at 2/10 Cavendish Street, Stretford Road, All Saints, Manchester, M15 6BP.

The price list from the late 1950's and 1960's shows how the Billiard & Snooker Trade was reliant on the Clubs for their business. So just as others in the Trade Raper & Sons offered not only Billiard & Snooker services but Bingo, Club Furniture and even glasses for the bar. As the following pictures show :-

 raper & Sons Snooker Table Maintenance

 

Raper Club Games

Raper & Sons Tombola

Raper Glassware

As the price list are not dated it is only by the address that the possible issue dates have been estimated.


In the 1960's the Snooker trade tried to modernise the design of the tables. Raper offer to convert existing tables to a 'modern' design which they called the 'Olympic'

Raper & Sons Olympic Snooker table Raper & Sons Olympic Billiard table

Olympic Snooker table by Raper & Sons Olympic Snooker Table



The A4 sales leaflet for the'Olympic' table was four page

In March 1974 the company moved to a new build factory and showrooms. These were situated at 2 Hansworth Street, Chancellor Lane Estate, Ardwick, Manchester, M12 6LH.

Raper & Sons Ltd. Office

The Office & Showroom

Raper & Sons Ltd

The Showroom

Raper & Sons Ltd.

The Workshop - In the foreground you can see a traditional frame for a snooker table being converted into a Raper 'Olympic' table.


The above new premises also ,originally, had set aside a room for private coaching. in the late 1970's early 1980's they were offering 'Snooker's most exciting and talented young player in the North' for exhibition matches & coaching as per the following leaflet :-

Tony Knowles snooker professional


Raper's trade stand and promotional 'Beat the Clock' game with the professional player Jack Rea circa 1975. Famous celebrities were also at the show as can be seen from the picture below.

Rapers stand for Beat the clock

Gordon Raper Ingham
L -R

Raper & Sons Ltd. logo

Letterhead showing Raper & Sons Ltd. trade mark

In 1987 Gordon retired and sold the business to a group of businessmen who had a lot of experience in the Snooker & Billiard trade. The relaunched the business a 'The New Force' as per the picture of the front of their catalogue.


Raper Catalogue 1987


The trade mark was all so up-dated :-

Raper 1987 Logo

Sometime in 1989 the business was moved to an new address , Unit 15, Lyon Industrial Estate, Lyon Road, Springfield Road, Kearsley, Bolton, BL4 8TR.

Sadly the following year this long established Manchester business ceased trading

 

Acknowledgements

Peter Ainsworth

'Billiard & Snooker - A Trade History' complied by J.R. Mitchell

Snooker Heritage Collection

*********************

© E.A. Clare & Son Ltd / Peter Clare 2012. Reproduction of the whole or part of this article allowed only with the permission from E.A. Clare & Son Ltd. and relevant copyright holders.

Please do not hesitate to ask should need any advice on snooker, billiards or pool or wish to make a purchase. Thurston has the most comprehensive range of tables and accessories available.

www.thurston.co.uk  

 to contact us by phone  

0870 607 1336 

or  

email -  thurston@eaclare.co.uk 

  copyright E.A. Clare & Son Ltd 2009. & 2011