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Billiards, Snooker and Pool

Following Queen Victoria's installation of a billiard table at Windsor Castle in 1836, many private homes made provision for a 'billiard room'. Billiards and snooker, originating from France and India respectively, and American pool, were generally played in private clubs and saloons, Mechanics Institutes, and later in RSL clubs.

At its most popular, the Victorian Billiards Championship in 1922 attracted more than 10 000 entries, with Melbourne as the hub. Frederick Lindrum operated a billiard hall at 317 Flinders Lane from 1912 until his death in 1943, and in the 1930s the sport was dominated by his son Walter, whose records, including his highest break of 4137, have never been approached. Major billiards matches of the period often attracted 1000 spectators. Walter Lindrum's grave in the Melbourne General Cemetery features a marble billiard table complete with balls and cue.

In the latter half of the 20th century, snooker and pool had a surge in popularity. Snooker received a boost with the advent of colour television and the program 'Pot Black', featuring Eddie Charlton. The introduction of the 'pool table' to hotels enjoying extended trading hours attracted a new and younger clientele to a game requiring a lower skill level, raising pool to its current pre-eminent position.

Bill Deacon