Leicester Square Hall (from 1947)
Thurston's Hall in 1903
|Address||45–46 Leicester Square |
|Current use||Fanum House|
|Years active||1901–1940, 1947–1955|
Thurston's Hall was a major billiards and snooker venue between 1901 and 1955 in Leicester Square, London. The hall was in the premises of Thurston & Co. Ltd which relocated to Leicester Square in 1901. The building was bombed in 1940 and reopened under a new name, Leicester Square Hall, and new management in 1947. The venue closed in 1955 and the building was demolished to make way for an extension to Fanum House. The Hall was used for many important billiards and snooker matches, including 12 World Snooker Championship finals between 1930 and 1953. It was also the venue of the first World Snooker Championship match in November 1926.The hall was sometimes referred to as "Thurston's Grand Hall". There was also a "Minor Hall" in the same building.
English billiards, called simply billiards in the United Kingdom, where it originated, and in many former British colonies such as Australia, is a cue sport that combines the aspects of carom billiards and pocket billiards. Two and a red are used. Each player or team uses a different cue ball. It is played on a billiards table with the same dimensions as a snooker table and points are scored for and pocketing the balls. English billiards has also, but less frequently, been referred to as "the English game", "the all-in game" and (formerly) "the common game".
Snooker is a cue sport which originated among British Army officers stationed in India in the later half of the 19th century. It is played on a rectangular table covered with a green cloth, or baize, with pockets at each of the four corners and in the middle of each long side. Using a cue and 21 coloured balls, players must strike the white ball to the remaining balls in the correct sequence, accumulating points for each pot. An individual game, or frame, is won by the player scoring the most points. A match is won when a player wins a predetermined number of frames.
Leicester Square is a pedestrianised square in the West End of London, England. It was laid out in 1670 and is named after the contemporary Leicester House, itself named after Robert Sidney, 2nd Earl of Leicester.
In 1900 Thurston & Co. Ltd. were forced to relocate from their premises at 16 Catherine Street because it was in the way of a new street from Holborn to the Strand. They moved to 45-46 Leicester Square and built new premises there, including a "match room" which became known as "Thurston's Hall".The first important event hosted at the new venue was the Billiards Association American tournament. This was a round-robin handicap event featuring 8 professionals and ran from 7 to 12 October 1901. The event resulted in a tie between William Peall and Harry Stevenson, with 6 wins out of 7. There was a play-off on the Monday. Peall received 100 start but Stevenson won 500–395.
Holborn is a district in the London boroughs of Camden and City of Westminster and a locality in the ward of Farringdon Without in the City of London. The area is sometimes described as part of the West End of London.
Strand is a major thoroughfare in the City of Westminster, Central London. It runs just over 3⁄4 mile (1,200 m) from Trafalgar Square eastwards to Temple Bar, where the road becomes Fleet Street inside the City of London, and is part of the A4, a main road running west from inner London.
On 16 October 1940, during The Blitz, the Leicester Square premises were destroyed by a parachute mine which demolished the south-western corner of the square. Only two minor injuries were reported.The building was housing an "exhibition of billiards antiquities" at the time and many of the items were destroyed. The last major event at the hall was the English Amateur Billiards Championship which was won, on 5 April, by Kingsley Kennerley for the fourth successive time. A "summer" professional snooker tournament was started on 15 April but was abandoned in May.
The Blitz was a German bombing campaign against Britain in 1940 and 1941, during the Second World War. The term was first used by the British press and is the German word for 'lightning'.
The English Amateur Billiards Championship, organised by the English Amateur Billiards Association (EABA), is a billiards tournament dating back to March 1888.
Kingsley Kennerley was an English billiards and snooker player.
The hall reopened under new management as the Leicester Square Hall in October 1947.Joe Davis and Sidney Smith played an exhibition match from 6 to 11 October. Davis, conceding 10 points per frame, won 38–33. This was followed by the final of the 1947 World Snooker Championship between Walter Donaldson and Fred Davis. The match was over 145 frames and was played from 13 to 25 October. Donaldson won the match 82–63, having taken a winning lead of 73–49 on the previous afternoon. Fred Davis made a 135 clearance in frame 86, just one short of the championship record.
Joseph Davis, was an English professional snooker and English billiards player. He was the dominant figure in snooker from the 1920s to the 1950s. He won the first 15 World Championships from 1927 to 1946.
Sidney Smith was a professional billiards and snooker player from the 1930s to the 1950s. He was born in Killamarsh, Derbyshire, England.
The 1947 World Snooker Championship was a professional snooker tournament. The final was held at the Leicester Square Hall in London, England from 13 to 25 October. The semi-finals had been completed on 15 March but the finalists agreed to delay the final until the autumn so that it could be played at the rebuilt Thurston's Hall which had been bombed in October 1940.
The last competitive match at the hall was played from 13 to 15 January 1955 between Joe Davis and his brother, Fred. This was the final match of the 1954/55 News of the World Tournament. Joe won the match 19–18 but the tournament was won by Jackie Rea, Joe finishing in second place. Joe made a 137 clearance on the final day.
Fred Davis, was an English professional player of snooker and billiards, one of only two players ever to win the world title in both, the other being his brother Joe. He was one of the most popular personalities in the game, with a professional career which lasted from 1929 to 1993. He was an 8-time World Snooker Champion.
The 1954/1955 News of the World Snooker Tournament was a professional snooker tournament sponsored by the News of the World. The tournament was won by Jackie Rea who won all of 8 matches. He finished ahead of Joe Davis who won 6 matches. The News of the World Snooker Tournament ran from 1949/50 to 1959 but this was the last to be held at Leicester Square Hall, which closed soon after the end of the tournament.
John Joseph 'Jackie' Rea was a Northern Irish snooker player. He was the leading Irish snooker player until the emergence of Alex Higgins.
Joe Davis compiled the first officially recognised maximum break at Leicester Square Hall on Saturday 22 January 1955 in a match against 68-year-old fellow Englishman Willie Smith.The match between Davis and Smith was played as part of a series of events marking the closure of Leicester Square Hall. The Billiards Association and Control Council initially refused to accept the break since the match was not played under their rules. At the time the professionals played using a rule (now standard) whereby after a foul a player could compel the offender to play the next stroke. It was only at a meeting on 20 March 1957 that they recognised the break. Davis was presented with a certificate to commemorate the event. From 17 to 22 January Joe Davis played Willie Smith at both billiards and snooker. In the snooker match Smith received 28 points in each frame but, despite this handicap, Davis won the match by 23 frames to 13. The final match was a snooker contest, played on level terms, between Joe and Fred Davis from 24 to 29 January. The contents were auctioned off on 2 February with the match table on which Davis had made his maximum break being sold for 270 guineas.
Willie Smith was an English professional player of snooker and English billiards. Smith was "by common consent, the greatest all-round billiards player who ever lived".
The World Snooker Championship is the leading snooker tournament both in terms of prestige and prize money. The first championship was held in 1927 and was won by Joe Davis. Davis won the first 15 championships before retiring from the event, undefeated, after his 1946 success. In the 1950s snooker went into a period of decline and the championship was not held after 1952, although an unofficial championship was held until 1957. In 1964 the championship was revived on a challenge basis and in 1969 the championship became a knock-out event again. Since 1977 it has been played at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, England. The tournament is currently played over 17 days and ends on the first Monday in May. In the modern era, the best record is that of Stephen Hendry, who won the title seven times. Steve Davis and Ray Reardon both won six times while Ronnie O'Sullivan has won five titles. The current champion is Judd Trump, whose 2019 win was his first.
Horace Lindrum was an Australian professional snooker and billiards player. The dominant snooker player in Australia, he lived in Britain for long periods and played in the major British tournaments. From his arrival in Britain in 1935 he was regarded as the second best player in the world, behind Joe Davis. Lindrum contested three World Championship finals against Davis, in 1936, 1937 and 1946, losing all three to Davis but coming close to beating him on several occasions. Horace Lindrum won the 1952 World Championship which, because of a dispute between the governing body and the players' association, was only contested by himself and New Zealander Clark McConachy.
The 1927 World Snooker Championship was a snooker tournament held at various venues throughout the season. This was the inaugural edition of the tournament and was organised by Joe Davis and Bill Camkin. The final took place at the Camkin's Hall in Birmingham, England with Joe Davis winning the title by defeating Tom Dennis. Originally called the Professional Snooker Championship, it did not become the World Championship until 1935.
The News of the World Snooker Tournament was one of the leading professional tournaments of the 1950s and widely considered as being more important than the world championship due to the involvement of Joe Davis. The event was sponsored by the Sunday newspaper News of the World. The highest break of the tournament was four times 140 or more, which was unusual at that time.
The 1939 World Snooker Championship was a snooker tournament held at the Thurston's Hall in London, England.
The 1940 World Snooker Championship was a snooker tournament held at the Thurston's Hall in London, England.
The 1949 World Snooker Championship was a snooker tournament held at the Leicester Square Hall in London, England.
The 1953 World Professional Match-play Championship was a professional snooker tournament with the final held at the Leicester Square Hall in London, England.
The 1955 World Professional Match-play Championship was a professional snooker tournament, the final being held at the Tower Circus in Blackpool from 14 to 19 March 1955. The entries did not include Walter Donaldson who, after his heavy defeat in the 1954 final, had joined Joe Davis in "retiring" from the Championship.
The Daily Mail Gold Cup was an important professional cue sports tournament from 1935 to 1940. In the first two tournaments it was contested as a billiards event before becoming a snooker event. It was sponsored by the Daily Mail. The tournament was suspended following the 1939/40 event and not played again. The concept of a handicap snooker tournament was revived for the 1948 Sunday Empire News Tournament.
The 1948 Sunday Empire News Tournament was a professional snooker tournament sponsored by the Sunday Empire News newspaper. The tournament was won by Joe Davis with John Pulman finishing in second place. The tournament saw the re-introduction of the popular round-robin handicap format had been used for Daily Mail Gold Cup before World War II. Thurston's Hall, the home of the Daily Mail Gold Cup, had re-opened in late 1947, although renamed as the Leicester Square Hall. It was the only time the tournament was held although the format continued with the News of the World Snooker Tournament.
The 1952/1953 News of the World Snooker Tournament was a professional snooker tournament sponsored by the News of the World. The tournament was won by Joe Davis who won all of 8 matches. He finished ahead of Jackie Rea who won 5 matches. The News of the World Snooker Tournament ran from 1949/50 to 1959.
The 1951/1952 News of the World Snooker Tournament was a professional snooker tournament sponsored by the News of the World. The tournament was won by Sidney Smith who won 6 of his 8 matches. He finished ahead of Albert Brown who also won 6 matches but won one fewer frame overall. The News of the World Snooker Tournament ran from 1949/50 to 1959.
The 1950/1951 News of the World Snooker Tournament was a professional snooker tournament sponsored by the News of the World. The tournament was won by Alec Brown who won all his 7 matches, finishing ahead of John Pulman who won 5 matches. The News of the World Snooker Tournament ran from 1949/50 to 1959.
The 1953/1954 News of the World Snooker Tournament was a professional snooker tournament sponsored by the News of the World. The tournament was won by John Pulman who won 7 of his 8 matches and finished ahead of Joe Davis who won 5 matches. The News of the World Snooker Tournament ran from 1949/50 to 1959.
Burroughes Hall was an important billiards and snooker venue in Soho Square, London from 1903 until it closed in 1967. The hall was in the premises of Burroughes & Watts Ltd., who had been at 19 Soho Square since 1836. Burroughes & Watts opened a new billiards saloon in 1903, known as the Soho Square Saloon. This was re-opened as the Soho Square Hall in 1904 and was renamed Burroughes Hall in 1913. In 1967, control of Burroughes & Watts Ltd. was taken over by a group of property developers. The assets included 19 Soho Square, which was demolished and replaced by a modern office block.