G W Ellis - Ivory Turner
G. W. Ellis Ivory Ball
In September 2023 after Mrs. Gibbs (nee
Ellis) had seen a repeat of the BBC programme "Flog it" which
feature a visit by the presenter Paul Martin to the Snooker
Heritage Collection. She phone in to say that she had some
interesting items concerning Ivory Billiard Balls. Her father and
grandfather had been in the business of working with Ivory and had
produced and renovated Ivory Billiard Balls.
She kindly donated the information to
the Collection as she was pleased that a history of Billiards &
Snooker existed and wanted the items she had from her farther to be
part of that collection. She had put together a brief history of
the family business as follows :-
THE FIRM OF G W ELLIS
Founded in 1885 by George Ellis
(1847-1911) and his eldest son George William Elhanan Ellis
Robson's Directory of 1886 and
1887 record George Ellis, Turner, at 78 Blythe Street, Bethnal
Green Road, Bethnal Green, London.
However, by 1890 George William E.
Ellis is recorded as living, and indeed marrying in Stratford,
Although his father, George, continued to live in Bethnal Green
until his death in 1911.
The 1891 Census shows G.W. And his
wife , living at 152 Major Road, Stratford, but, by 1894, when his
second daughter was born he was living at 3 Selby Road,
Kelly's directory for 1899-1900
shows him at 37 Union Road, Leytonstone, where he advertises as an
"Ivory and Hardwood Turner". The 1902-1903 Directory lists him as a
"Billiard Ball Manufacturer", and by the 1906 Directory he had
moved across the road to 140 Union Road (now Langthorne Road),
Leytonstone, from where the work continued to 1953. The family
lived in the house until sometime during the 1st W.W.,
when they moved to Vicarage Road , Leyton, and later to Broadmead
A brick built 2 storey workshop
was erected at the bottom of the Garden at 140 Langthorne Road,
sometime around 1912. Working premises prior to this are unknown,
but probably took place in the shed in the garden! In earlier years
the machinery was driven by a gas engine, although later an
electric motor was installed . Certainly in later years the
'workshop' contained several lathes, two circular saws, and a
cupboard with a gas ring, where the necessary 'brewing' for dyeing
(the ivory) was done. (Hearsay ;- George William's wife used to but
offcuts of red material from the Army & navy stores for the red
George William was joined in turn
by his son William Stanley Elhanan (1902-1953), when he left, aged
14, Leyton County High School (then in Connaught Road). William
Stanley took over the business in January 1928 when G. W. retired,
although he did continue to assist from time to time. William
Stanley moved back into 140 Langthorpe Road after his marriage in
1933 and remained there until his , early death in 1953.
William Stanley's letterhead
describes him as a Billiard and Bagatelle Ball Manufacturer, and
Ivory, Hardwood and Mathematical Ivory Handle Turner.
William Stanley buffimg Billiard
Balls circa 1948
Stanley, the fifth know generation of turners, came a craftsman of
the highest order. Already turning collar studs by the age of eight
or nine, he reached the perfection of the ancient craft
- as mentioned by
two of his customers following his early death in 1953.
buffimg Billiard Balls circa 1948
"One might say
that your husband was almost the last of the London Ivory Turners
and easily the best. His work was was always so perfect and he took
pride in it too (F. Friedlein & Co. Ltd.)
"I feel that I
have lost a personal friend and the Ivory trade in addition has
lost a Craftsman that cannot be replaced" (C H Harris of H. Harris,
St Ives, Cornwall)
William Stanley's death the business closed, as he son William
Malcolm Elhanan was only 8 years old at the time.
Muriel Gibbs (nee
Ellis) May 1994
Below are the two
letters sent to Mrs. G.W. Ellis on her husbands death.
The article below is from a The
Express & Independent - a Local Newspaper in about
Note in the penultimate paragraph
in the article the mention of a 'meal from ivory' which is again
mentioned in the next article!!
Not sure if it really sounds
something you would want to try !!!
Also donated, along with the
papers, to the Snooker Heritage Collection were a couple of sets of
Ivory Billiard balls and a picture of some items turned from Ivory
along with example of items turned fro wood.
Examples of turned Ivory
The two sets of Ivory Billiard
Turned wooden chalk
Examples of turned wooden
Thanks to Mrs. M Gibbs and W.
Malcolm Ellis for donating the items to the Snooker Heritage
Reproduction of this article
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