Raper & Sons
Founded in Manchester in 1845
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
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
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
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
Copies from the 1889 Patent
Application showing it was Accepted on 1st February 1890 also
confirms the business address as 10 Hilton Street,
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.
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,
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.
When the article was written the business was located at 2/10
Cavendish Street, Stretford Road, All Saints, Manchester, M15
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 :-
As the price list are not dated it
is only by the address that the possible issue dates have been
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'
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.
The Office &
The Workshop - In the foreground you can see a traditional
frame for a snooker table being converted into a Raper 'Olympic'
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
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.
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
The trade mark was all so up-dated :-
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
'Billiard & Snooker - A Trade
History' complied by J.R. Mitchell
Snooker Heritage Collection
© E.A. Clare & Son Ltd.
2018. © Peter N. Clare 2018
Reproduction of this article allowed only with the permission from
E.A. Clare & Son Ltd.
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.
to contact us by phone
0151 482 2700
email - firstname.lastname@example.org
copyright E.A. Clare
& Son Ltd 2009. & 2011