They’ve been potting blacks and racking up century breaks at the Abbey Snooker Club for nearly 100 years...
But now players at the much-loved venue, which has been running since 1920 in the basement of the iconic Abbeydale Picture House on Abbeydale Road, are to switch off the table lights for the last time this weekend.
And lifelong members of the atmospheric club – which staff say is more like a ‘confession booth’ than just a place to pot balls – have chalked their last cues.
“The closure of the club is particularly sad for some of our older members who have been coming for more than 30 years,” said manager Andy Rushworth.
“Some of the old boys who play remember going to the cinema when they were younger, and they met their wives in the ballroom – it’s much more than a snooker club to so many people.
“I would often joke that the reception counter was more like a counselling area as people would come here to chat, relax and make friends as well as play snooker.”
During its nearly 94 years in business the club has attracted a loyal customer base, with members aged up to 94 regularly taking to the baize.
But an era is ending after the ‘Picture Palace’ was bought at auction in 2012 for £150,000, with plans to renovate the building as a climbing and sports centre.
Andy said: “We were under the impression we would be given first refusal on the lease when it came up for renewal, but instead the landlord gave us our notice.
“Unfortunately we couldn’t reopen the business elsewhere as we would need a huge venue to accommodate the snooker tables, plus it would cost in the region of £8,000 to move and re-cloth the tables alone.”
Already dismantling work has begun beneath the grand auditorium, first opened by the Lord Mayor of Sheffield in December 1920.
The baize has been unfurled, the heavy slate bases have been removed, and the wooden scoreboards which have totted up countless breaks have been unscrewed from the walls.
Some of the tables are even being shipped out to India to begin new lives there.
Andy said: “While the new people have some great ideas to renovate the space, their plans don’t include snooker, so it feels like we’re losing a little piece of Sheffield history.”
New owner Phil Robins said the new tenants plan to invest heavily in the building and will reopen a music venue in the basement. He said plans are still progressing to convert the former cinema upstairs into an indoor climbing and sports centre.