Kentfield & Carr
Past Masters No 1 - (circa 1982)
This seems to be the
first article that Norman put together but was not published until
he was asked to write a series of articles for the 'Cue World'
The first player who
can be looked upon as the Professional Billiards Champion must be
Edwin (sometimes also called Johnathan) Kentfield of Brighton.
Although the names of other good players, such as a Mr. Bedford and
Mr. Pratt are mentioned in early writings, there does not seem to
be any indication that they could be looked upon as professionals
i.e. players who earned their living solely as Billiards
There was, however, Mr. John (better known as
Jack) Carr who some might consider to be a professional player, but
without wishing to be unkind, we might refer to him as the first
'Hustler', as although he earned his livelihood as a player and
Billiard Room Keeper, he was an inveterate gambler who had a rather
'sharp' approach to business matters.
Carr was the Billiard marker at Mr. Bartley's
Billiards Rooms in Bath. Mr. Bartley himself was able to place the
red ball on the centre spot on the billiards table and then screw
the white cue ball 'in off the red' into the centre pocket.
passed on his skill to his Marker, John Carr, showing him how the
stroke was achieved by striking the cue ball off centre, and so Mr.
Bartley is looked upon as the inventor of 'side' and 'screw'
(or as they say in the USA
Carr became even more skilful than his Master and
amazed the Billiard Room Patrons to whom he explained that it was
necessary to use his special 'twisting chalk' which he then sold to
them in small boxes at the very high price (during the 1830's) of
two shillings and six pence (12 ½ pence) per box.
Carr was backed to play any player for 100
Guineas (£105 - again a huge sum at that time) a side. The
challenge was accepted by Kentfield, but Carr became ill and the
match never took place, so Kentfield claimed the title of
'Champion' and held it for 24 years until he avoided a challenge
for the title which was taken by the well known John Roberts
Kentfield in the Billiard & Snooker Heritage
When Kentfield first
began to play Billiards, the tables and equipment were very
primitive the cushions
Photograph of a
list cushion - from the Billiard & Snooker Heritage
were stuffed with list of horse hair - the table
beds were made from wood, the balls made of ivory and the cloth was
very coarse and heavy. So it was a case of playing the equipment as
well as the opponent.
Photograph of a
wooden Billiard Table bed - from the Billiard & Snooker
of the first page of Kentfield's book - note this copy signed
'the proprietor -
As a Professional
Player, Kentfield co-operated with Mr. John Thurston, (as shown by the famous book
published by Kentfield, which shows it was 'published and sold by
the proprietor J. Thurston at his Petrosian Billiard table
manufactory, 14 Catherine Street, Strand, dated 1839'),
whose Company introduced all the major
improvements on the construction of Billiards tables that still
exist to this day. (a Thurston table was
selected in 1892 as the 'Standard Table' on which all Billiards
& Snooker Tables are still based)
Photograph of the
original letter selecting a THURSTON table as the
Future articles in this series will report
upon many other well known "Past Masters" of
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allowed only with permission from E.A. Clare & Son Ltd.
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