Peradon

Billiard & Snooker Cue making in the UK.

Peradon -Weildings - MacMorrans -E.L. Fletcher

A short history of the firm with mention of the other firms (J.Nidd, MacMorram, Weildings & E.L.Fletcher & Son) that help make it as it is today.

This article has been assisted by the book compiled by Mr. J.R. Mitchell titled ' A Trade History' addition information has been added and the story brought up to date, also the pictures have been added.

The development of Snooker & Billiard cues is covered in Norman's article - 'the Days of Old No.9 Mace to Cue' - in the UK the principal firm involved in making cues from the early 1880's that still survives today is Peradon.

Prior to the mid 1880's most cues were imported from France in the rough state and were then hand finished by the Billiard firms that existed at that time.

It was in 1885 that the Peradon business was founded by Leopold George Peradon, whose father, a skilled cabinet maker specialising in church furniture, had come to England from France some 20 years earlier.

Leopold Peradon began making cues in the finished state, the first were plain ash followed by one point, two point and then four point hand spliced cues. It was some years before the solid butted four point machine spliced cue was introduced which later became the standard type of butt, generally used today, although superior hand spliced cues are still being manufactured.

Leopold Peradon The firms founder 

The founder of the firm - Leopold G. Peradon

In the early days the cues were made by Leopold Peradon at his home in Linacre Road, Willesden, with the assistance of his wife, who helped with the polishing and packing of the cues. He then delivered the cues by pony and trap at the same time he was able to accept orders with exact requirements from the various London billiards traders.

The following information is taken from an early Peradon catalogue -

A director of one of the oldest Billiard Makers, who had seen his work, invited him to make some cues for them. At that time he was employing three or four men.

His work proved so satisfactory that cue making subsequently became the predominant line of his activity, so much so that in 1885 he concentrated solely on making cues.

In 1890 a move was made to Neasden in North west London and in that year the famous "Peall Record" cue was made.

Leopold Peradon's two sons Fredrick George and Louis Fraser, were brought into the business. They were sent to work in France in order to gain further experience and then worked back in Willesden in the family business making both machine and hand spliced billiard cues supplying them in the complete finished state to the billiards trade.

F.G. Peradon

Early in the 20th century the first cue lathe was invented which allowed for the tapered turning of the cues so that the output of one man was increased from ten or 12 cues per day up to almost 140 cues per day.

Cue _store

Ash & Maple stock in the square seasoning before being worked on

Hand finished Billiard & Snooker cues 

Hand finishing of Billiard Cues


 lathe turning of Cues

Auto cue lathe work


 lathe turning Snooker & Billiard Cues 

Finish turning of Billiard cue - (by the shape of the lathe legs it is lathe made by Fells of Cumbria)

So great was the demand for Peradon cues that at this time another factory was opened near Beauvais, in France. The additional output being shipped to the United Kingdom until World War I commenced in 1914 which put an end to this operation.

During the 1914-18 war Peradon's made vast quantities of sticks for signalling flags were supplied to the Ministry of Munitions as wireless communication was not in use between units of the military forces.

At sometime after the War Peradon's acquired the stock in trade of J. Nidd & Co. Ltd. another small cue maker (note - another John Nidd business was set up in Kentish Town again in the Billiard trade and the 'collection' has a record of this business in 1934 and another in 1959)

Peradon 7 Nidd Billiard Cue Catalogue 

This 1927 catalogue shows that Peradon had already incorporated Nidd

After World War I during the period 1929-30, there was a tremendous increase in the demand for billiard cues, brought about by the opening of several thousand public billiard halls, and later still came an unprecedented demand for small cues, required to equip the of thousands of under sized home tables which were so very popular in the 1930s. A lot of the cues offered by the different billiard firms with their own brand names were made by Peradon or by their competitors namely MacMorran or Weilding. So the majority of the cues now appreciated by collectors were made by these firms.

MacMorran 1935 Billiard catalogue 

Front cover of a MacMorran catalogue circa 1935 - Note their trade mark of the World with a Crown on top

 MacMorran Billiard Show Stand

MacMorran's exhibition stand

Weilding Billiard Ball advert 

a Weildings advert from 1930

It was during the 1930s that Mr. Fredrick Peradon, ventured into the export market, and then in order to oblige the overseas customers commenced a wholesale distribution service for balls-cloth-rubber and most other accessories for the billiards and snooker trade. In this he was assisted by his sons Mr. L. L. F. (Bill) Peradon, who succeeded to the control of the business following World War II .

L.L.F. Peradon 

Bill Peradon

 Peradon Billiard Cue & Accessories catalogue 1956

Front cover of Peradon's 1956 catalogue

Snooker player endorsed cues 

Some of the professional endorsed cues listed in the 1956 catalogue-
Walter Lindrum, Fred Davis, Joe Davis & Clarke Mconachy.

It was during the post war period that the entire stock-in-trade, plant, goodwill, etc., of two other cue-making companies was acquired, namely MacMorran's of Chalk Farm and Weildings of Acton. Each after the death or retirement of the respective proprietors. This left the Peradon Company as the only surviving manufacturers of billiard cues in the entire British Commonwealth and it is to their credit that they did not exploit the situation but served the trade faithfully throughout many difficult years.

weildings 1956 Billiard Cue Catalogue 

Weildings were still trading as a separate business as late as 1957
Note the their trade mark - the Cannon - in the bottom left corner

 Weilding Professional Billiard Cues

Their range of endorsed 'Professional' cues list quite a few of the top players of the day
as shown in these two pages from the 1957/7 catalogue they include-

Weilding Billiard Cues  

John Pulman, Sydney Lee, Clark McConachy, Fred Davis, Walter Donaldson, Joe Davis & Horace Lindrum. It would seem that the endorsed cue ranges were made by several firms as the 1956 Peradon catalogue also list cues of the same model by some of these players

It was in January 1958 that Peradon and Weilding came together in peradon's Willesden factory. The Weilding customers were sent the letter announcing the change as shown below.

Peradon & Weildings 1958 

After the businesses were brought together the UK. Sales to the Billiard & Snooker trade were made under the Weilding name with the export sales using the Peradon name.

Peradon & Weilding price list 


The Peradon price list of 1958/9 was issued in June 1958 and on the inside front cover mentions the bringing together of Peradon & Weildings

016_W1958_adj 


The list of the top players of the day who had endorsed cues that were made by Peradon's is like a who's who of Snooker & Billiard players of the era. Probably the most famous Billiard player being Walter Lindrum who signed over the use of his name on Cues to Peradon. His nephew Horace Lindrum also had cues as well as such players as Joe Davis - some of these professional endorsed cue ranges must have come with the take over of Weildings - see their 1956/7 catalogue.

Walter Lindrum Letter re Billiard Cues 

Walter Lindrum's letter allowing Peradon to make and sell cues with his name on without any royalty payment! This letter was as a result of a visit to Australia by Mr. Peradon and according to a later letter written in in April 1954 to Walter Lindrum's agent seems to relate to monies owed to Peradon.

In 1966 the company was 'disturbed' as the result of local planning arrangements from their premises in Willesden and so the company was moved to new modern factory premises at Andover in Hampshire, where Mr. Bill Peradon aided by Mr. Charles Gage continued the successful operation of the business.

 Peradon Andover Factroy 

An 'air brushed' aerial picture of the factory - Southway, Walworth Industrial Estate, Andover

It was hoped that Mr. Bill Peradon's son David would join the business, and so carry on the family tradition of cue making to the fourth generation, but although David worked and gained all the necessary practical experience working in the company for several years he finally decided to follow another career. In preparation for retirement Mr. Bill Peradon who was not enjoying the best of health decided to sell his interests, but he did not want the company to be controlled by people outside the billiards trade, and so negotiations began early in 1976 with Mr. Norman Clare, of E. L. Fletcher & Son Ltd.(also E.A. Clare & Son), and quietly progressed but unfortunately Bill Peradon died in April 1977 before final arrangements had been completed. The amalgamation with E. L. Fletcher & Son, finally took place on 1st August 1977. with Mr. Charles Gage, who had been with the Peradon company for over 40 years, being appointed Managing Director.

Part II - E. L. Fletcher & Son Ltd.

It was in the year 1920 shortly after World War I that Mr. E. L. Fletcher, an industrial chemist started to manufacture a special type of wafer for fixing the leather tips to the billiard cues.

Mr. E. L. Fletcher had been severely gassed during the war and at times was only able to supervise production from a couch situated within the works. His special wafers proved to be vastly superior to the gelatine type of wafers usually of French manufacture which had been previously used for cue tipping. The new type English wafer was originally a light yellow colour and Messrs. Thurston & Co., the London billiard table manufacturers had the sole marketing rights.

Thurston Billiard Cue Tip Wafers 

A box of the THURSTON wafers

Wafers Billiard Cue Tip
The above picture shows a few of the Thurston 'yellow' wafers and the instruction leaflet that was included in the box.

 

Once the wafer production was well established Mr. Fletcher then successfully experimented with the production of billiard cue tips and again the first tips were marketed through Thurston & Co. Ltd., as sole distributors.

As the quality became firmly established and as production methods became more efficient the demand for Fletcher tips and wafers within the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, was so great that Thurston,s were approached and agreed to allow their sole agency to lapse so that Fletcher products could then be supplied direct to billiard table makers throughout the world.

E. L. Fletcher letterhead

Baldock greenwafers E.L.Fletcher 

Thurston's however, retained sole right to distribute the 'yellow' wafers, whilst for the rest of the trade the colour was changed to green.

 Baldock billiard cue tips 

Typical box of tips using the brand name Baldock

 The Baldock tips were the only Billiard tips made in the UK and as tips had been invented in France the sizes have always been quoted in metric so a size 10 is 10mm. Joe Davis endorsed the Baldock tips as shown by the letter used by E.L. Fletcher & Son to promote their Baldock brand tips.

Joe Davis letter to E.L. Fletcher _adj 

During all this period as the result of Mr. Fletcher's ill health it had been necessary for his wife, Evelyn and his son Evan Fletcher to assist with the practical work and with the administration.

Evan Fletcher

Evan Fletcher

Thus they then possessed all the necessary practical skill and knowledge that subsequently enabled the company to continue in the years after the death of Mr. E. L. Fletcher. Evan Fletcher was tragically killed in a shooting accident in the early 1950's.

The following items give some idea of how important E.L.Fletcher & Son was to the Billiard Trade, shown by thearticles inthe newspapers and the magazines associated with the trade.

The Billiard Player July 1942

E. L. Fletcher Billiard Cue Tips

Builliard Cue tips Sports Trader

The Sports Trader Exporter April 1955R

 The business then continued under the control of his mother Mrs. Evelyn Fletcher until she was joined in 1954 by her son in law Mr. Arthur Ashmole and his wife Mary (Mrs. E. Fletcher's daughter). Most unfortunately, Mr. Ashmole died suddenly in 1971 leaving his wife, Mary to operate the company.

Iside the Baldock factory

Mary Ashmole is the third from the right with Mrs Gentle to her left and Mrs. Bird on her right

She was very resourceful and took a practical hand in the manufacture of the billiard cue tips, but temporarily the production of the now famous Fletcher English green wafers had to be abandoned, but the closely guarded secret formula was safely preserved. In 1972 Mrs. Ashmole decided to retire from the family business so the company's trading interests were sold to the Directors of E.A.Clare & Son Ltd, but production continued at the factory premises in Baldock, and the manufacture of the green wafers was immediately recommenced, under the control of Mr. Peter Clare as managing director.

8 Hitchin Street, Baldock

The entrance to the E.L. Fletcher factory is through the blue gates - No. 8 Hitchin Street, Baldock, Herts.

8 Hitchin St, Baldock

The factory was from the first section of brick built building on the right of the entrance.

E.L. Fletcher Cue Tip Factory

 The entrance to the factorywas through the double blue/green doors

ELF trade mark 

A new trade mark for E. L. Fletcher & Son Ltd was designed

 Baldock Billiard Cue Tips box

The tip boxes were also re-designed

Later in 1975 following a considerable expansion of the company's trading interests the company was moved to larger factory premises in Liverpool, where the full range of high-class billiard cue tips and the famous green wafers together with brass ferrules, screw tips, continued to be produced and a completely new range of moulded nylon accessories including cue clips, rest heads of all types, pocket plates for miniature billiard tables, a range of rest hooks, etc., was introduced and immediately became a successful addition to the Fletcher range of products.This now also included the wholesale distribution of snooker balls, billiard cloth, cushion rubbers, etc.

As mentioned in the earlier 'Peradon' section it was during the early part of 1976, negotiations for an amalgamation with Messrs. Peradon & Co. Ltd., of Andover commenced which resulted in the establishment of the new company Peradon & Fletcher Ltd., during August 1977.

Part III - Peradon & Fletcher Ltd.

Peradon & Fletcher trade mark 

The new trade mark incorporated the earlier trade marks - The world with the crown on top had originally been the MacMorran's and was modified by Peradon to have the combined name Permac in the band, the Cannon was Weildings along with Fletcher's Elf.

Peradon & Fletcher Ltd. is an amalgamation of Peradon & Co. Ltd., (including their subsidiaries) the leading manufacturer of billiard cues, with E. L. Fletcher & Son Ltd., the leading manufacturer of billiard cue tips of all types, resulting in a powerful combination offering a first class service to the billiards trade in the United Kingdom and with a world wide export trade. Mr. Charles Gage who has been with the Peradon Company for over 40 years is now the managing director of Peradon & Fletcher Ltd., supported by Mr. D. Owen, previously with Fletcher's at Baldock and Liverpool, who joined the Board of Directors responsible for sales and marketing. The administration offices and the billiard cue factory are based at Andover in Hampshire.

 Peradon & Fletcher Liverpool 1978

a 1978 picture of the Liverpool staff - Norman Clare is sitting

The branch factory continues the manufacture of the cue tips and other products at Liverpool. Stocks of all the other billiards and snooker accessories being carried at both factories so that a quick and efficient distribution service is available to the entire billiards trade.

Peradon & Fletcher Trade catalogue 

The 1985 Peradon & Fletcher catalogue promoted the trade counters at the factory sites. The early 1980's were a time when Snooker was expanding quickly and numerous small business set up and were happy to collect their requirements direct from the factory.

 Peradon & Fletcher up-dated trade mark

The trade mark was updated in about 1983 using a stylised version of a 'crown' keeping the association with the crown from the 'Permac' logo.

During these years cues were made for many of the top players and endorsed cues sold through and for the Snooker & Billiard trade. Cues were made for such well know names as - Ray Readon, Rex Williams, Jack Karnhem, Eddie Charlton, Terry Griffiths, Willie Thorne, Mark Wildman, Steve Davis and John Parrott to name but a few. Examples of the butt plates from these cues are on display in the Billiards & Snooker Heritage Collection at Thurston in Liverpool

Terry Griffiths Professional Snooker player 

Terry Griffiths signing with Charlie Gage holding one of the 'new' designed Griffiths cues

 Terry Griffiths Snooker player

One of the Peradon & Fletcher adverts - circa 1980

Many overseas snooker business had cues made for them by Peradon, so the name is known from South Africa to New Zealand, from Hong Kong to Australia, Malaysia to Canada and Europe in other words any where the game of Snooker is played. Again cue butt plates are on display

On Mr. Gage's retirement, Del Owen became the M.D. And when he resigned in 1988 Vince Bendon, the works director, who had been with the cue making side of the business since before the move from Willesden., became the Managing Director. Vince had a vast knowledge on cue making from complete hand work to use of the lathes and his experience was a strength to the cue manufacture.

Vince Bendon a Peradon's Director 

Vince Bendon (on the left) showing Terry Griffiths round the Andover factory

George Hampson who had worked for E.A. Clare & Son in Liverpool and had gained further woodworking knowledge in France joined the cue making business in Andover as the Works Director.

Willie Thorne Professional Snooker player 

Willie Thorne admiring his Snooker Cue range on the Peradon & Fletcher stand at the Sports Trade show circa 1986

John Parrott & Willie Thorne 1986 

John Parrott and Willie Thorne Professional Snooker Cue range as shown in the 1986 Peradon & Fletcher catalogue

In the 1980's there was boom in the interest of snooker and the demand for cues especially for the expanding Snooker Hall market was great. Peradon & Fletcher's re-fitted the factory to mass produce cues to meet this demand. With rapid copy lathes and conveyor spray finishing the production of snooker cues was greatly increased to meet the demand. Also at that time UK based competitors as well as overseas cue makers entered the market. So when the boom in demand came to an end and the market was requiring 'hand made' quality Peradon & Fletcher's had to rapidly adjust. Especially as the demand for the UK made tips had dropped as imported 'blue tips' were in demand. Also the wafers for sticking the tips onto the cues had been replaced by more modern adhesives.

1985 Peradon's 100th year 

In 1985 a celebration dinner was held to mark the 100th Anniversary of the founding of Peradon's.

Peradon staff 1985 

The Andover and Liverpool staff at the 100th Anniversary Dinner

Later that year, in November 1985, the Andover warehouse suffered a major fire, fortunately the factory and offices were not effected other than by smoke and the staff rallied round to get production back very quickly.

The Liverpool branch was closed in the late 1980's with all the stock and administration moved to the Andover site.

In February 1993 Peradon & Fletcher's were proud to sign up Steve Davis to endorse a range of their cues.

 Steve Davis World Snooker Champion

L - R - J. Poulton (Peradon Sales); Peter Clare (Peradon Director); Steve Davis ;

Vince Bendon (Peradon M.D.); John Hines (Sales Director Matchroom)

Steve Davis Professional Snooker 1993 

1993 Peradon & Fletcher Catalogue which feature the Steve Davis collection

Part IV - And back to - Peradon

Later in 1994 when the lease on the Andover factory was up for renewal it was decided to move the complete factory to new premises in Liverpool and at the same time the business name reverted to Peradon dropping the "& Fletcher." Tom Brophy who had been the Bowls production Manager for Drakes Pride took over the running of the Liverpool factory . The official opening of the Liverpool factory was by Robin Squire M.P. - sponsor Minister for Merseyside - on 2nd November 1994. The following year the directors and staff were delighted to have a Royal visitor H.R.H. The Duke of Kent who came to the factory on 25th September 1995.

Duke of Kent visit to Peradon's factory 

HRH The Duke of Kent examining a Cue with Tom Brophy, Works Director of Peradon

Shortly after the move the business became the trade and wholesale department for Snooker,Pool and Billiards of E.A. Clare & Son Ltd. and Mike Eggington the great grandson of the founder of E.A. Clare, took charge of the sales.

John Parrott World Snooker Champion 

pages from the 1998 Peradon Cue & Accessories brochure

John Parrott

In 1998 John Parrott again selected to endorse the Peradon range and a further range of cues were developed. He also wore a Peradon patch on his waistcoat. So two famous names in Snooker had a Liverpool connection.

1998 revised Peradon trade mark 

The current trade mark - only a slight change made in 1998 from the 1983 version

 The Peradon range of cues made in the U. K. is recognised as being reliable and consistent with a full range of hand finished cues, four point butted cues as well as hand spliced cues made in their Liverpool factory. They only supply to the trade (Peradon do not sell direct to the public so for any Peradon Snooker cues or accessories visit - www.thurston.co.uk ) throughout the UK and export worldwide. They do offer the public the chance to buy a bespoke cue direct from them via www.cuewizard.co.uk - see offer below for a discount on a bespoke cue.

The hand made and finished cues rely on well seasoned selected timber and a dedicated staff who have a feel not only for the final product but also for the parts that are brought together to achieve a well balance and finished cue for Snooker, Pool or Billiards.

 CUE1

Selecting the season timbers

 CUE6

Wood planes for shaping the cue shaft

 Snooker Cue making

Fitting the first two splices

 Billiard Cue plates

Fitting the butt plate

 Snooker Cues

The shaft having the finish applied by hand

The pictures show just a few of the stages the a hand made snooker, pool or billiard cue goes through during its production at Peradon's. Their cue making tradition go right back to the very earliest development of the cue and they make sure that that tradition is as important today as it has always been.

The keen Snooker, Pool or Billiard player can design their own Peradon made cue on the www.cuewizard.co.uk site selecting, for example, the shaft timber - the butt timber and veneers - the cues length - tip size etc. and will give you a price for the cue you have designed - if it is acceptable you can then place it on order. The "normanclare" site has negotiated a deal with Peradon to save you some money - all you need to do is mention the normanclare web site in the 'Other Information' box on the cuewizard order form and get a 5% discount off the price quoted.

*****************

© E.A. Clare & Son Ltd. 2009 - All items displayed are from the N. Clare collection. Reproduction of article allowed only with permission from E.A. Clare & Son Ltd.

Please do not hesitate to ask should any advice on snooker, billiard 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 thurston@eaclare.co.uk

Phone - 0870 607 1336

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