Marsden & Saffley Cast Iron Billiard Table
MARSDEN & SAFFLEY Cast Iron Billiard
If you have looked at the article under the heading Norman's
Lectures call the 'The Construction of a
Billiard Table' you will have read a brief paragraph, shown
below, on the Marsden & Saflet Cast Iron Billiard Table.
"Billiard Tables were also made in Liverpool during the
second half of the 19th century by a firm called Marsden and
Saffley, in which the under-frames were entirely made of Cast Iron.
These tables stood on 6 legs only, and I have with me an actual
photograph of one of these under-frames, and you will note the
Liver Bird borrowed from the Liverpool Coat of Arms has been cast
into the end rail. One of these tables existed in the Tate and Lyle
Staff Recreation Club in Liverpool until a few years ago, when on
our advice it was scrapped.(Norman later regretted that he had
obtained the table for his collection. In 1998 Norman's son Peter
was delighted to accept a donation of a cast iron table frame to
the collection. However it wasn't a Marsden & Saffely but from
a London firm called Harris & Sons)
Picture shows the under cast
iron under-frame of a Marsden & Safley Billiard
table Note Liver Bird motif cast into end rail
I also have with me for your
inspection a Sales Leaflet published by Marsden and Saffley,
containing testimonials as to the quality of their Billiard Tables,
and so it is that you will note their tables were also fitted with
patent composition beds. In these days we would in fact call them
"Concrete" beds. You will note that they claim that wooden frames
and slate beds are now entirely superseded, only the wooden cushion
rails being retained.(We have a concrete bed from this period in
the collection, which we believe came from a Marsden & Saflfley
table. It was found in the old Ashcroft & Co. premises in
Victoria Street, Liverpool .The bed has another unusual feature in
that the sections have tongue and grove joints and bolts that go
through from the end slates to the middle slate to 'bolt' the bed
The latest development is that in September 2013, an email was
received from Mr. Bailey, who lived in Cheshire. He had found the
'Snooker Heritage' web site when searching for information on his
Marsden Table and so got in touch with Peter Clare. It transpired
that the Bailey family had the table in store at his home and as he
was wishing to downsize was wanting to sell the table. Peter and
his colleague Mike Atherton went to see the table and check it was
actually a Marsden cast iron frame, Mr. Bailey had already assured
Peter that the table had the Liverbird on one of the end rails the
other end rail had a plaque confirming the makers with the number
18, so it is safe to assume that this was the 18th fame made by
Marsden & Saffley.
The table was examined and all the parts were there although
rather than a composition bed it had at some time been fitted with
a slate bed. It was agreed that the table could be collected and
displayed at the Thurston showrooms in Liverpool until a buyer
could be found. So a few weeks later the table was collected and
brought to back, to its home City, Liverpool.
As it was the first time such a table had been seen a trial run
at assembling the frame was undertaken and it was like a giant
maccano set and as it had been stored for a few years a few sprays
of WD40 were required!
As we were not convinced that the composition bed, which would
have made the table more originally correct, that we have on
display is actually level it was decided that the slates that had
been with the table would be used. If we had used the composition
bed no one would have been able to see its unique features. Which
are tongue & grove joints between the sections and the fact the
the sections are bolted together. In their sales leaflet (shown at
the end of this article) in the third paragraph under the 'Details'
they describe their 'patented Composition Slabs'.
Once we knew were all the bolts fitted the table was installed
in the Liverpool showroom. It will be used for anyone trying out
cues from the extensive range that Thurston stock.
Billiard table ready for the
cushions to be fitted
Marsden & Saffley Billard
table now on display in Liverpool at THURSTON showroom
The end rail plaque showing the
Marsden name and we presime that this table was the "18th"
table that they had made.
The other end rail had the Liver
The above picture was taken professionally and shows
the table off in all its glory. Any one visiting the Thurston
Showrooms to buy a cue will currently be trying it out on this
The the Marsden & Saffley sales leaflet circa 1880 is quite
interesting and list a number of testimonials as well as where they
exhibited their table.
Front cover - Page 1
page 4 -back cover of sales
Many thanks to Mr. Bailey for loaning
us this unique and rare table. Should anyone be interested in
making an offer for the table please use the contact form on this
In 2018 a relative of Thomas Saffley
provided some background information on Mr. Saffley and also a
picture of the gentleman. He was a farmer's son who came from a
small village in Dimfrieshire. He headed to Liverpool in his mid
20s (around 1850) and became a bolt manufacturer with Marsden.
also see the information on the Harris
Cast Iron framed table in the collection
© 2010 © 2013 E.A. Clare & Son Ltd. - All items displayed
are from the N. Clare collection unless otherwise stated.
Reproduction of article allowed only with permission from E.A.
Clare & Son Ltd.
Please do not hesitate to ask should need any advice on snooker,
billiards or pool or wish to make a purchase. Thurston has the most
comprehensive range of tables and accessories available.
see our e-shop - www.thurston.co.uk
email - email@example.com
44(0)151 482 2700