W. Jelks & Sons

As result of and email to the 'Snooker Heritage ' web site asking about a table supplied and installed by W. Jelks & Sons and finding that there was only a couple of letters and a brochure or two in the collection, it seemed further research was required.

This article about W. Jelks & Sons has been written with information supplied by Peter Ainsworth, without which the article would have been a lot shorter!

The earliest mention of the business indicates it was established in 1835 by Arthur and William Jelks' father. There is an advert in 1877 of Mr. Jelks of 275 Holloway Road N. London selling a horse! It also seems that the business almost failed in 1886 when a "Receiving Order' against William Jelks , Holloway Road, furniture dealer was issued but that order was rescinded.

In the early years the business did seem to mainly dealing in domestic furnishings as in 1893 there is reference to the sale of linoleum and the business description was 'furniture dealers' of Holloway Road, Finchely.

Jelks building

Jelkd Holoway Road

The two picture above were kindy supplied by Margaret Edwards a relative of the Jelk's family who sent the picture for inclusion from her home in Australia.

However in the early 1900's the "Challenge" Combined Billiard Dinning Table was patented and the business stated that it was made entirely in their works at Holloway Road.

By 1909 W. Jelks & Sons were manufacturing full size Billiard tables as shown by the fact that in January 1909 a Billiard match between W. Cook and J. Mack was played on a Jelks table. In the report of the match, which was 750 up and played at the Holloway Station Hotel, Holloway Road. It states "this was the first full size table built by them (Jelks)". Mr. Picard is the manager of the Jelks Billiard Dept. at 263 to 275 Holloway Road.

An advert in January also offered "Second hand Portable Tables as well as two full size Thurston & Bennett, a 10ft by Wright & Co and a Riley Billiard Dining Table by E.J. Riley. All the tables on offer could be bought on easy terms.

In April of that year (1909) there is a report that 'the funeral took place of Mr. Arthur Jelks, one of the partners of the well known firm of W. Jelks & Sons house furnishers and billiard table manufacturers of Holloway Road'.

Whilst in 1911 they listed second hand tables by other makers such as Burroughes & Watts, Cox & Yeman and Thurston. They were also keen to promote their second hand furnisher sales as adverts from 1914 & 15 show - "The showrooms comprise 250000 square feet of floor space with £50,000 stock of high grade second hand furniture of all kinds on view.

After the 1914-18 War they ran an advert in 1919 as follows - "W. Jelks & Sons will be please to tender for the purchase of the entire contents of Officers' mess or surplus furniture from Camps, recreation huts etc. "

Although they still prompted the second hand furnisher side of their business it does seem that they were still making and selling Billiard Tables as the letter sent to the "Billiard Player" magazine in July 1922 shows

Jelks of Holloway

This letter also includes the 'new' additional business address of Eden Grove.

From the 1920's Jelks seem to have moved into the Billiard market in quite a big way as the following adverts indicate. They not only supplied Billiard Tables but offered all the accessories and a recovering service as well.

W. Jelks Billiards 

a 1922 advert

Jelks rcovering billiard tables

1923 Advert

Jelks Billiard Table builders

1926 Advert 

Jelks Largest Stock of Billiard tables_4

A 1931 advert claiming to have the largest stock of secondhand Billiard tables in the Trade

Jelks Billiard Dining Tables

Another 1931 adverts claims to be 'The largest stock of reconditioned Billiard Dining tables in the Trade'

Jelks 500 Billiard tables in stock 

1935 Advert

W. Jelks & Sons advert 1936 

This 1936 advert now claims to be the 'the World largest Billiard Table Dealers'.

Although during that period they still ran adverts for their second hand furnisher boasting the showroom was now 800000square feet with £100,000 worth of stock. The advert below is we believe circa 1930 based on the mention of the Billiard Dining Tables.

Jelks High Grade Secondhand furniture 

In 1936 the firm became a Limited Company so the following picture of a page from a sale leaflet listing the second hand combined Billiard Diners is circa 1930.

 Jelks secondhand Billiard Dining Tables

The next picture is from the front of a sales leaflet produced by Jelks sometime before the death of William Jelks as the Directors list still has his name in it.

Jelks colour sales leaflet

The sales leaflet not only list some full size tables but had a fine spread of seven Combine Billiard Dining Tables as well as a Bar Billiard Table. The next three pictures are from that sale leaflet.

Jelks full size Billiard Table 

Jelks Billiard Dining Table

Jelks Bar Billiard Table

(Note the statement - "Cannot lend itself to gambling" !! see also the bar billaird story)

In 1942 the death of William Jelks was reported in the May addition of the Billiard Player

William Jelks

 In the report there is reference to the Billiard table used by Joe Davis during his 'fund raising' for the War Effort. A picture of the table shows Joe Davis lining up a shot and the huge mirror which was angled over it so that the audience could see the shots that were played.

 Jelks _16

The next advert is after they became a limited company circa 1946 and they started to call themselves "Jelks of Holloway".

Jelks of Holloway

In 1947 a consortium made up of Mr. W.M. Jelks, Joe Davis & Sidney Smith re-opened the Leicester Square Match rooms that Thurston had moved out from in 1940. The opening was reported in the Billiard Player as follows -

Match Room Leicester Square 

It must have been quite a night!

It also seemed that in 1948 they used the Leicester Square address as additional showroom as the business card pictured below. It still list "Fine Furniture" in the main body of the card.

 Jelks Leicester Sqaure Business Card

We also have a couple examples of letters one from 1948 the other from 1949 both of which show that the company was able to offer 'term payments' for Billiard tables.

Jelks 1948 letter 

 W.Jelks & Sons 1949 letter

The a couple of pictures are taken from a small sales leaflet listing the accessories and it seems they had reduced release some business space in Eden Road as it list only 3-5 Eden Road rather than nos. 1 to 16 listed in early docuements.

Billiard Accessories 

Jelks _23

In 1954 there is a report - Notice of Appointment of Liquidators - W. Jelks & Sons Ltd. Nature of business House furnishers, warehousers, removers and billiard table builders. The liquidators were listed as William Murray Jelks and Frank Arthur Jelks both of 263-275 Holloway Road. Date of appointment 31st March 1954 - from the fact that the Jelks were the liquidators it must be assume that they had decided to cease trading.

In October 1957 the following appeared in The Billiard Player magazine-

"We regret to report the death of (W.M.) "Bob" Jelks, member of the firm W. Jelks & Son Ltd. of London. Mr. Jelks was co-director, with Joe Davis and Sydney Smith of Leicester Square Hall, and his firm organised the Professional Snooker Championship Final of 1946 between Joe Davis and Horace Lindrum. The Match was staged at the Horticultural Hall, and attracted large crowds throughout its 12 day duration. Bob Jelks was a true enthusiast of the game".

The final note published in December 1958 reads - Appointment of Liquidators - Liquidators names and Addresses : Frank Arthur Jelks formerly of 263-275 Holloway Road, London N7,now of Lower Farm, Cottered , Herts., and Leslie Frederick Couzens, 38 Manchester Road, Tottenham, London N 15 (in place of William |Murray Jelks, deceased.

Acknowledgement - Peter Ainsworth - for supplying much detail and pointing out which copies of the Billiard Player magazine in the collection to look at for some of the pictures used.

All pictures & scans from Heritage Collection sources.


© 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.

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