When the smoking ban was introduced more than a decade ago, a lot went out with it.

There was the aroma, the ashtrays students loved to pinch, and the angry punters who couldn't see the point of a pint without a fag.

Other casualties included landlocked pubs with no space to adapt, gaming machines and pool tables.

The latter started to dwindle in numbers when pubs realised the space tables took up could make a better return if used to home a dining area instead.

Nowadays, seeing a pool table in a pub has become akin to seeing bar billiards being played: a novelty that harks back to a different era.

But it doesn't have to be like that according to some involved in the sport.

Julia Jefford-Flewitt is the chairman of the Walkley Friendly Pool League, for teams in the north west of Sheffield.

"It's getting more difficult to get teams in the leagues. A lot of pubs have gone and others have become gastro-pubs," she explains. "We are now having to travel further and further to play different teams."

She is keen to see landlords reconsider introducing pool and outlines the benefits.

"Each team has between six to 12 players and we will be in the pub from 8.30pm up to 11pm. There is an opposition as well and everyone will be drinking, be it beer or soft drinks. Most people will eat, whether or not that has been put on by the home team."

With various leagues running such as male, mixed and women's, you could have teams playing in the pub as much as once or twice a week.


Pool potential

The potential for pool doesn't end there.

"Players will go to their local to practice and playing in the league has introduced us to some new pubs we have returned to just because we like them.

"Pubs can also host tournaments for teams which can raise money for prizes and for charity."

Teams and leagues also often hold their presentation nights in pubs in the division.



Marion Ferns is landlady at The Forest, which has teams in the Walkley Friendly Pool League.

She says: "We are one of the only pubs in the Kelham area with a pool table so it is a novelty and a benefit to us. We get the league players in and if they come in to practice we will give them a free table.

"It does get used through the week, so although ours is only 50p a game it generates revenue from playing and drinks."

Another pub that can see the benefits is The Cleveland Arms in Wolverhampton.

The Mitchells & Butlers pub has five English pool tables that are regularly used. One is covered in signatures from cue sports stars such as Steve Davis, Jimmy White and John Higgins.

Mike White, who has been at the helm of the pub for the best part of 30 years, explains: "We have had some fantastic exhibition nights here. The players play each other and then the customers. It gives them a great chance to meet stars of the sport."

Mike (below) says take from the tables can be "up and down" but it does increase dwell time in the pub.



"We have a league team but we also have lots of families, couples and friends who like to play, so the tables are well used."

Pubs considering introducing a pool table need to decide whether to rent or buy. Buying a table from new will cost around £1,000. If you rent, a percentage of every £1 you take for a game will go back to the owner.

Not charging at all is a good way of ensuring you get people in to try pool, according to Julia.

"Free pool nights are a great way of getting people in to play," says Julia. "The pool teams will often go to these to look for players to recruit and if people know there's a place they can play pool they will probably come back to the pub."

Give it a try, it could be worth a shot.


How to be a winner at the pool table


Make sure you have clear rules about who is next on the table. This can be managed with pounds on the table or names on a blackboard


Don't overspend on communal cues
Serious payers will bring their own and the others could go missing


Display the rules
A poster with the rules of the game on the wall should help settle disputes


Arrange other games
As well as classic pool or tournaments, try popular games such as Killer or One Pocket pool


Make the most of your table
Pool tables can be covered to help out at buffets or even used as temporary table tennis tables with conversion kits available to buy