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' Magazine


Edwin Kentfield

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 Players.

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.


Mr. Bartley 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 'english')

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 Senior.

portrait of Kentfield 

Painting of Kentfield in the Billiard & Snooker Heritage Collection

When Kentfield first began to play Billiards, the tables and equipment were very primitive the cushions

List Billiard Cushion 

Photograph of a list cushion - from the Billiard & Snooker Heritage Collection

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.

Billiard Table Wood bed 

Photograph of a wooden Billiard Table bed - from the Billiard & Snooker Heritage Collection

 Kentfield Signed

Photograph taken of the first page of Kentfield's book - note this copy signed by

'the proprietor - John Thurston'

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)

Thurston Standard Billiard table 

Photograph of the original letter selecting a THURSTON table as the 'STANDARD'

Future articles in this series will report upon many other well known "Past Masters" of 'yesteryear'


© Norman Clare 1990. © E.A. Clare & Son Ltd. 2018.
Reproduction of this article allowed only with the permission from E.A. Clare & Son Ltd.

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