History of the British Association of Pool Table Operators (B.A.P.T.O)
The British Association of Pool Table Operators (B.A.P.T.O) was established in 1975 by a dedicated group of UK pool table operators. Their aim was not only to promote the game of pool but also to standardise its rules, using a 2″ object ball and a 1 7/8″ cue ball.
The membership of B.A.P.T.O spanned across large national, regional, and family-owned businesses not just within the UK, but also in Eire, France, and Spain. Besides the commercial sector, the association represented players through several bodies, such as the Welsh Pool Association (WPA), England Pool Counties Federation (EPCF) – each having its referee bodies. Associations from Ireland, France, Spain, as well as manufacturers of pool tables and suppliers to the industry, including cue makers, were also a part of this comprehensive network.
Known as the premier event in the UK Pool calendar, the B.A.P.T.O Grand Finals were first introduced in 1977 with the 7-Person Team event. As the years went by, additional events were added – Men’s Singles and 3-Person Team events in 1981, the Ladies event in 1982, and the Professionals event in 1990. The most recent introduction was the UK Fours in 1996, held outside of the Grand Finals. The same year, B.A.P.T.O also teamed up with Macmillan Cancer Relief to organise a charity fundraising ‘fun’ pool weekend.
The primary goal of B.A.P.T.O was straightforward – “To develop the potential of the sport of 8-ball pool and ensure its recognition in all its forms as one of the leading leisure and sports activities.” Key objectives included promoting and developing the sport, gaining greater sponsorship, introducing new competitions for competitive players, fostering greater UK-European interaction, and providing amateur players with quality events. B.A.P.T.O, through its members, continually worked towards being the “Investors in Pool.”
B.A.P.T.O was led by an esteemed line-up of Chairmen:
- A. Charles Buck (1975-1980)
- George S. Muncaster, Marlmoss (1980-1983)
- Bob Blakeborough, R Blakeborough & Co. (1984-1986, 2001-2007)
- Jim Murphy, Bell Fruit Services (1987-1988)
- Malc Ferris, Associated Leisure (1989-1993)
- Tim Drew (1994-2000)
- Alan Boswell (2008-2014)
Even as the association itself is no longer operational, its legacy remains. At its height, B.A.P.T.O was more than an organisation – it was a community of pool enthusiasts seeking to elevate the game to new heights. This commitment is preserved today, as the B.A.P.T.O Grand Finals continue under the management of the UK Pub Pool, ensuring B.A.P.T.O’s vision continues to influence the future of pool.