The Founder

The Norman Clare Collection at Thurston (formerly E.A. Clare and Son), St Anne Street, Liverpool, is probably the largest collection of billiards and snooker memorabilia in the world. Only the Heinrich Weingartner Museum in Vienna compares with it, and that is devoted to carom billiards (the European / American version of the game played on pocketless tables).

Anyone who visited the Snooker Heritage Room, which used to be set up each year at Sheffield during the World Snooker Championships, will have seen items from The Norman Clare collection, as Thurston not only supplied many of the items on display but also help set the room up each year.
Yet only the keenest collectors and snooker cognoscenti are aware of it and of the vast range of fascinating and historical pieces to be found there. It includes the weird and the wonderful - ancient cue tips, a variety of tables, ivory and early composite balls, Eralc chalk, maces and even pocket plates damaged during prison riots! So for those of you previously unaware of this collection, perhaps a little background information will be of interest.

Norman Clare

Norman Clare
The founder of the Billiard & Snooker Heritage Collection

Norman Clare, who died in 1990, was Chairman of E.A. Clare & Son Ltd having followed his father (Edward Arthur) into the business as a young school leaver in 1930. The company [whose interest in the billiards and snooker industry encompasses the historic Thurston name as well as those of Thos. Padmore and Sons, Ashcrofts, Peradon, Weilding, and many others] is the home of Norman's collection. His interest in setting up this collection stemmed from when E.A.Clare & Son bought Thurston & Co. and he found many interesting items at their old factory site at Waterloo Works, Cheyne Walk, Chelsea. For example, he recognised this original and rare wooden billiard table bed which was being used to board up a broken window at these premises and so he rescued it!

Some additional pictures of the collection of Billiard and Snooker memorabilia that Norman Clare founded and has been maintained in his memory.


A view of the main room


Part of the cue collection in the main room


Another view of the main room


The corridor outside the main room


 a view of the second room with the MIP Table and in the back ground can be seen the original Victorian Patent papers


A-room 2_BilliardBall

a display in the second room on the Harris cast iron table


A_Royal Warrant 

The Thurston Royal warrant granted in 1907

A_Dickens Cheque

The original cheque signed by Charles Dickens dated 29th January 1866

 Thurston Liverpool

some of the collection id displayed in Thurston main showroom in Liverpool

Joe Davis Liverpool 

main Thurston showroom, part of the Joe Davis display

 Joe Davis

main Thurston showroom, another view of the Joe Davis display. His cue and snooker ball case can be seen above his portrait


© Norman Clare 1990. © E.A. Clare & Son Ltd. 2024. © Peter N. Clare 2024
Reproduction of this article allowed only with the permission from E.A. Clare & Son Ltd.