SamsBros . Its part in the Bar Billiard
an early Sams Table
Whilst trying to research the history of
Bar Billiards and its origins three U.K. business names come to the
Billiards Ltd, Jelks and Sams Bros. These three business are the
names originally associated with the introduction of the game of
Bar Billiards into the U.K. Both Jelks and Bar billiards Ltd. have
been covered in other articles but Sams story has not.
Sams-Atlas factory at Hoddesdon -
Interestingly both Sams Bros. & Bar
Billiards Ltd. claim to have been the first to introduce Bar
Billiards to the U.K., with similar stories of seeing the tables in
Northern Europe. Sams didn't call their tables Bar Billiards until
(perhaps) the name became associated to the the game. There was
always an argument between Sams & Bar Billiards as to who
introduced the game to the U.K.!! Other companies used other names
such as Snookerette and Russian Billiards.
Pictures in the Sams Bros 1935 catalogue
show that they offered a range of tables that we would recognise as
Bar Billiard tables.
During the research into the game Peter
Clare was introduced to Denis Brisley, who had joined Sams Bros.in
1967 as Sales Manager later becoming its Managing Director . After
leaving Grays in 1983 Dennis stayed in the industry first with
Playday then with Sussex Bar Billiards before finished his career
at Bar Billiards Ltd. in 2005. So Dennis was able to provide some
interesting information about bar billiards and especially some
history of Sams Bros. which had been published in a U.K. Sports
Magazine in May 1980.A period when small snooker tables sales were
booming. The basics of that article follows with additional
information that Dennis has passed on.
The original Sams Bros Ltd. was founded
by two brothers in 1919. The trade name SAMBROS was registered in
1948. By 1980 Sams was part of the Grays empire and was run by
Dennis Briesley, Managing Director, and Ron Sams, son of one of the
original founders and consultant to the business.
Initially the company manufactured just
tennis, badminton and squash raquets and only started to make
billiard/snooker tables , the product they are so well know for,
later in the company's history. Ron Sams also ran J. B. Halley
& Co. Ltd. that specialised in Golf equipment.
Grays took over Sams Brothers in 1969.
At that time Sams had themselves been negotiating to take over a
company - Atlas Ltd., a company which specialised in minature
billiard/snooker tables. A year after Grays had bought Sams they
took over Atlas and amalgamated the two companies to form
During its history Sams has produced a
wide range of product lines associated with sport and leisure.
Other ventures the company has been involved with, before being
taken over, were bar billiard table manufacturing plant in
Dennis was able to tell us that the
factory in Jamaica was set up in the late 1950's and assembled over
2000 bar billiard tables and over 1000 bar billiard tables were
exported from their U.K. Factory.
Apart from their main product line
of miniature billiard/snooker tables Sams-Atlas also make miniature
pool tables and bar billiards tables, the latter mostly for pubs
and clubs. They also operate a renovation service for bar billiard
tables and often get tables back that they made more than 30 years
Dennis was also able to advise that Sams
ran a operating division supplying bar billiard tables to sites on
a shared basis. These tables were the 'league' tables and were the
Also in the article it mention that up
to the late 1970s Sams -Atlas made all their own Billiard/Snooker
balls. This side of the business had been part of Atlas but
accoriding to the article it was the cost of the raw material,
which was in rod form, andso resulted in a large amount of wastage
that resulted in this part of the manufacturing business coming to
Dennis was also
able to passed on that when Sams bought out Jeffery Bros in the
1980's that there were 4 crates of containing some 5000 to 6000
IVORY BALLS in Jeffery Bros. City Road building, which were at that
time basically worthless!
Sams made and
supplied Bar Billiard Tables for some of the better know names in
the Billaird Trade such as Thurston and E.J. Riley. These would
have been the narrower tables as the wider ones were for operators
and use in the Bar Billiard Leagues.
The early Bar
Billiard clocks used by Sams were sourced from France but Ron Sams
then had their clocks made in a local engineering business. When
demand fell for the clocks the
Heathersedge) with the knowledge to make the Bar Billiard clocks
had moved to the Isle of Man where he continued to make them for a
few more years.
Briesley - providing much of the background information
article 29th May 1980
Collection - Samsbros early catalogue
© 2016 Peter
Clare-©E.A. Clare & Son