Lindrum's billiards performances were a show

Walter Lindrum was always going to make his mark in the sport of English billiards, when you consider his grandfather Frederick William Lindrum I was Australia's first World Professional Billiards Champion having defeated the English master, John Roberts Sr, in 1869. Then Walter's father, Frederick William Lindrum II, was an Australian Billiards Champion at the age of 20.


Walter and his older brother Fred were trained by their father and Fred would then go on to become professional Australian Billiards Champion in 1909. Born in 1898 in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, he was named Walter Albert to carry on the initials of the state he was born in.


If you watch videos of Walter when he is playing billiards, it's very noticeable that he plays left-handed. This is because he lost the tip of his index finger on his right hand in an accident in 1901 and his father taught him to play billiards left-handed.



He would train up to 12 hours a day and was so young when he started that he would stand on a crate to reach the top of the table. His first professional game was played when he was 13 years old.


At 16, Walter was regularly making breaks of over 1,000 points during practice at the London Tavern, Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, where his father was running a three-table billiard parlour. By 1921 Walter was defeating his brother, Frederick who was the Australian Billiards Champion at the time. Walter refused to play his brother for the title.


As Walter's skill became well known during the mid-1920s his standard of play was so high many players refused to play against him. As a result, exhibition matches were often organised, especially with New Zealand Billiard Champion Clark McConachy.


Walter Lindrum in action. Courtesy The National Library of Australia


In 1929 Walter came up against Willie Smith, World Champion in 1920 and 1923, and one of the best English billiards players of the time when he visited Australia. The men played three even matches. In the third match when both players were a match up, Lindrum was forced to abandon the game midway through, when he heard the news of the death of his wife due to heart failure. While technically the match was a forfeit, Smith refused to accept the trophy and insisted it be awarded to Lindrum.


In the same year on 7 December Walter made a world record break of 3,262. Between 1929 and 1933 Lindrum dominated the English billiards scene. With games usually being played to 24,000 points, he would concede as many as 7,000 points to his opponents. In his final match of the tour against Smith in London, Lindrum's performance set numerous records: the highest individual aggregate (36,256), the largest winning margin (21,285), a record match average (262), and a record number of four-figure breaks (11).


Lindrum and his main rivals, McConachy, Smith, Joe Davis (World Champion 1928–1932) and Tom Newman (World Champion 1921–1922, 1924–1927), became known as 'the big five'.


His games drew a crowd including Donald Bradman and members of the touring Australian cricket team in 1930. He finally won the World Championship cup from Joe Davis in May 1933 in his fourth international season and insisted on defending it in Australia. In 1934 in Melbourne he retained it against Davis and McConachy and in 1938 against McConachy.


Billiard champion Walter Lindrum's final resting place. Courtesy Wikipedia


On 30 July 1960 Walter died suddenly while on holiday at Surfers Paradise, Queensland. He was survived by his third wife Beryl Elaine (formerly Russell, nee Carr). He was buried in Melbourne general cemetery after a funeral service at St Paul's Cathedral.



References

  • 'Walter Lindrum', Wikipedia, accessed 22nd October, 2021, Walter Lindrum - Wikipedia

  • Evan Jones, 'Lindrum, Walter Albert (1898–1960)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/lindrum-walter-albert-7755/text12453, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 24 October 2021.

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