Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Bar Billiards and a little bit of Mini-Golf in London

A hunt for three Bar Billiards tables and a revisit to Camden’s Crazy Golf course

While in London on Monday 27th February I thought I’d take the opportunity to check out some of the Bar Billiards tables in pubs in the city.

Prior to my trip I had a look on the excellent Bar Billiards table map, put together by AEBBA.

I saw there were well over twenty tables within easy reach and I planned to get to at least three of the tables on my Barmy Bar Billiards Trail.

My first stop was at the Electricity Showrooms pub in Hoxton.

The Electricity Showrooms pub in Hoxton

Upon arriving I asked the barman if they still had a table, he said they did, but it was “just for decoration”. I had a look at the table and one of the other barmen said he thought it still worked and to put a quid in to give it a go. I asked if they had any cues, they didn’t!? The table was also peg-less! However, the table did appear to be in good condition and the felt/baize was all intact.

The Bar Billiards table at the Electricity Showrooms pub in Hoxton

While chatting to the second barman he also mentioned they have a dartboard too. One for the Capital Arrows London Dart Board List perhaps.

The Dart Board in the Electricity Showrooms pub in Hoxton

My next stop was to Kings Cross and the King Charles I pub. Unfortunately on a Monday it’s not open until 5pm. I decided to head back later in the evening after a visit to Camden.

After refuelling with a new Gluten Free Chicken Salad Sandwich from the Kentish Town Sainsbury's and spotting a sign for an Eternit supplier (sadly un-minigolf related) and prior to visiting the next pub Emily and I had a wander to Camden Market. On our way there had a look to see if the Clarence Way Crazy Golf course was still there. We've previosuly visited in October 2009, May 2011 and August 2011. It is still there and remains unplayed by us on our Crazy World of Minigolf Tour. The sign at the course has had some graffiti added to it since our last visit!

The Clarence Way Crazy Golf sign

The Clarence Way Crazy Golf course in Camden

We then set off to find the Fiddler’s Elbow pub for the first game of Bar Billiards. We found the pub, but finding the entrance was trickier. Eventually we spotted a door that let us in and had a hunt for the table. The pub no longer has one. We decided to have a drink anyway, the pub had some great 80’s tunes playing, including Ghost Town by The Specials – the pub was something of a ghost town as there was just us two and a couple of other punters in there!

The Fiddler's Elbow pub in Camden

Although there wasn’t a Bar Billiards table there I did notice a poster for a band that our friend Brad ‘The Fist’ Shepherd and his band, Monkish, knows. You can check out the website of the naughtily named band here. Brad told me he has played at the Fiddler's Elbow music venue three times before and never seen a Bar Billiards table.

A poster for an upcoming performance from a band at the Fiddler's Elbow pub


With a thirst for Bar Billiards unsatisfied we headed back down the Northern Line to go to the King Charles I. Prior to that though we made a stop off at the Hurricane Room on Grays Inn Road as a quick web search while in the Fiddler’s had shown that they had a Bar Billiards table.

When we enquired within we found they didn’t.

The Hurricane Room - no Bar Billiards there, but lots of Pool and Snooker tables

On a wall outside we did however spot a poster for an upcoming Chess Boxing tournament!

Chess Boxing in London!

We eventually reached the King Charles I and through the window I spotted some illuminated green baize! The pub did indeed have a Bar Billiards table and no one was playing on it when we arrived!

The King Charles I pub - not yet open on my first visit

The pub is fairly small but the table is very playable (one of the great things about Bar Billiards is the minimal amount of space required). The table was of the 3-pin/peg variety and was in good condition, albeit with a slight tear on the felt just to the right of the black peg.

The Bar Billiards table at the King Charles I - with lots of balls in play!

The King Charles I even had its own ‘House Rules’ for the Bar Billiards table, with some interesting rules on fouls! More on that later...

The 'House Rules' at the King Charles I

The pub was nice and warm, with a real fire on the go, and there was a nice atmosphere in the wood panelled pub. There were certainly some interesting decorations in the bar , with lots of mounted animal heads on the walls. One large Deer head stared at you while you played on the Bar Billiards table!

Emily and I decided to play a best-of-three game match.

In game one I managed to reach a score of 450 points before wiping-out with a black-peg knock down, with Emily winning 370 points to nil.

Emily plays a shot on the Bar Billiards table at the King Charles I

In game two I won with a score of 440 points to nil. Emily had racked up a nice break of 420 points, however this was lost by knocking down a white peg. Emily had made a claim that I perpetrated a foul on her during play. If there was an independent Umpire for the match I may of been declared as a ‘perpetrator of a foul’ due to 'Goosing', but as we had no referee, the loss of points stood.

In between games we noticed that the pub also has a selection of board games for customers to play. I spotted there was a Shove Ha’penny board behind the bar and we saw some of the other board games atop the jukebox. They included Scrabble, Travel Scrabble and a 1000-piece Jigsaw Puzzle. Emily was tempted to break out the Jigsaw puzzle, but being as we were part way through a match and with a visit to ‘Jigfest’ coming up soon we continued with the Bar Billiards.

The Shove Ha'penny Board behind the bar

The third and final deciding game in our match saw me come out the winner with a score of 200 to Emily’s 170. The closely fought match was slightly notable as I managed to clear the last two balls from the table without the game being decided by a sudden-death last-peg shoot-out as has been the norm in our matches to date. I scored a 20 and a 50 to close-out the game.

Me playing Bar Billiards at the King Charles I

The ‘Committee Board’, above the scoreboard next to the table, shows the ‘Table Record’ held by a Julian Coles, which was made on the 13th of October 2009 and stands at 3,040 points. Including a break of 2,860.

After the main-event we threw another pound in the table and had a bit of ‘training’ before a five minute game. In this quick match I won with a grand total of 20 points.

Commenting on the evening out Emily summed things up by saying “We had a drink in ‘that’ pub, you had a sandwich, we did quite well.”

- All England Bar Billiards' Association
- Crazy World of Minigolf Tour
- Previous Bar Billiards Blog Posts
- Minigolf and Crazy Golf courses in and around London


Lemony said...

Richard was indeed the perpetrator of serious goosing foul, but without a proper authourity in place for the match no offical sanctions could be imposed

Richard Gottfried said...

Brad 'The Fist' Shepherd sent me the link to this great music video of a song that'll be played at the gig on Friday 23rd of March at the Fiddler's Elbow pub!

Bangers and Mash