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Escape to the Country - Awesome billiard table.

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  • Escape to the Country - Awesome billiard table.

    I've literally accidentally caught an episode of Escape to the Country (which I think originally aired in 2009) and the guests were being shown round pretty much a manor house. One of the rooms was a billiard room with an absolutely wonderful looking table, apparently original from 1850 - with under slate heating built in AND electronic scoring via buttons built into the rails, attached to a scoring system on the wall.
    I can't find any information on the internet about it; does anyone know what I'm talking about, and better yet does anyone have an information/history on such a table? I'm absolutely intrigued!

    I can't remember much about it as it was only in shot briefly, but other than the buttons built into the rails, distinguishing features included pockets that stood really proud out the side of the rails (probably about an inch or so on the middle pockets) and the heating pipework underneath was big, several pipes that could have easily been 2 - 3" diameter.
    Last edited by Kryten; 26 November 2016, 04:36 PM.

  • #2
    Whoop - found a pic!

    Absolutely stunning. It's apparently in Tyntesfield.
    Last edited by Kryten; 26 November 2016, 04:55 PM.


    • #3
      That is a very nice looking table, not too sure about the scoring built into the rails though. Scoring should be kept away from the table IMO


      • #4
        It's a weird system - the scoreboard is at the back there (a piece of art in itself) - the buttons in the rails send a signal up to that scoreboard. They didn't explain more than that in the program. They did say 1850 in the program although the National Trust website states it's 1876.


        • #5
          Is the scoring electric? Was it retro fitted or was the table made with it, I only ask as I was curious as to when electric was in houses and if it is electric I think the table is younger than both these dates.
          This is how you play darts ,MVG two nines in the same match!


          • #6
            I'm taking what was said on the program with a pinch of salt - they said the table was 1850 and the scoring system was electronic. I'd be inclined to believe the National Trust who own it on the dating (1876) but I'd like to know much more about the scoring system & heating. It's certainly feasible that there is a basic electrical system from mid to late 19th century, especially in a property of that stature; certainly it's closer to a mansion than a house. The balls are certainly original too, I'd imagine almost certainly ivory.


            • #7
              I had a scrounge around google and the dates may be right, the earliest full supply of electricity into homes was in 1881 ,a whole town was converted as an experiment but it did say it wasn't uncommon before that for wealthy folk to install their own supply into their factories or large homes ,usually run by steam generators, so the table could easily be the second date and quite possibly the first, although that seems a stretch.
              This is how you play darts ,MVG two nines in the same match!


              • #8
                Originally posted by jonny66 View Post
                That is a very nice looking table, not too sure about the scoring built into the rails though. Scoring should be kept away from the table IMO
                from how I read it (and sure seen this before) you press a button on the rail and the score is changed on the display at the end of the room
                Up the TSF!


                • #9
                  Sp what if you nudge the button while you're on the shot? Foul!


                  • #10
                    The table is not 1850 or even 1876

                    any table built before 1895 would have billiard finger top plates showing coming out of the leathers rebated into the top capping of the wood , concealed plates arrived after this date
                    look at 2nd photo down her for an example of pre 1895 top plates

                    the wood mappings also would look very thin on a 1850 table and not have the depth of this table , also the legs would be very thin in early Victorian design like this pre 1830s gillows

                    The slates would have been a 3 or 4 section 1 inch thick slate in the 1850s .

                    around 1860 to 1870 they went with 5 section and started to make them thicker .

                    the table in your photo has steel cushions on although these could have been replacements the design of the table makes me think they are original to the table , and we know steel cushions where not around until late 1895/6

                    the electric scoreboard and button feature make me think early 1900s was the original period of this table set up .

                    the under heating is cast iron finned radiators .
                    Last edited by Geoff Large; 27 November 2016, 11:58 AM.


                    • #11
                      Is it not possible the pocket plates are covered by the raised wood around the pocket Geoff?
                      This is how you play darts ,MVG two nines in the same match!


                      • #12
                        Given how things are shaping up in UK, perhaps there should be a sister programme called "Escape the country".


                        • #13
                          Cragside House, a National Trust Property in Northumberland, has the nicest vintage snooker room I have ever seen. It also has a matched set of six Macassar Burwat Champion cues in the rack. Well worth a visit.


                          • #14
                            Great info, Geoff. I might have to take myself to see it one day. Of all the things I've seen, I love the artistry and workmanship that goes into these tables.


                            • #15
                              A little more info found:

                              "This grand billiard table was made by James Plucknett and Co. for Antony Gibbs. The table is heated from below by hot-water pipes; this ensures that the cushions and baize are free from damp. The scoring was controlled by electrically activated buttons around the cushion that linked to the scoreboard on the wall. The whole table is encased in oak, incorporating twelve panels with traditional British sports and pastimes.
                              The billiard table was originally situated in Charlton, Antony's personal residence. After inheriting Tyntesfield, Antony moved the table into the Billiard Room that was built by his father William in 1865."


                              So again, if those dates are right, it would have been in it's original location for a few years prior to 1865 and a specially commissioned build; however again contradicting the own article source, the inscriptions state 1887.
                              Last edited by Kryten; 27 November 2016, 05:47 PM.