An international snooker player from Cambridgeshire is making his "retirement dream" a reality - to open a snooker and pool club in the town he grew up. 

Joe Perry, who has lived in Chatteris since he was a teenager and reached the semi-finals of the world championships in 2008, has taken over former Turkish restaurant Pera Palace.

Having always wanted to open his own club, Mr Perry says the building provided the perfect opportunity for him. 

Although he had previously looked at several potential locations elsewhere, he was passionate about opening a premises in his hometown. 

"I've been here since I was 14 so wanted to do it where I live," he said. "And when the old Pera Palace came available, it was a no-brainer for me."

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Having got the keys in mid-December, following Pera Palace's closure in October 2023, he and the team have been working on the transformation "for what seems like 24 hours a day". 

He hopes that JP’s Snooker and Pool Palace - which will have five pool tables, three snooker tables, two dartboards and a lounge area - will give the town a boost too.

"In terms of recreation, there is literally nothing to do unless you join a sports team or go to the pubs to drink," he said.

"We're trying to bring something to the town that people can do. I'm hoping that it's a real plus for Chatteris, because it definitely needs something."

Mr Perry added that he is hopeful the club will prove popular as "a lot of people I know currently go elsewhere to play".

The building, which used to be a night club, holds particular memories for Mr Perry too. 

"It's synonymous with the town, and I spent many nights up here when it was a club," he added.

"We didn't want the Palace to sit empty because it's what the town's known for."

He hopes that the club will help to inspire the next generation of pool and snooker players, too. 

"Having the club is one step to my retirement dream. And if we can unearth another professional snooker player in the area, that will be brilliant." 

Having coached people of all ages - from nine to 90 - Mr Perry is excited about the prospect of finding an aspiring player "who doesn't know they have the talent. 

"I think that could happen now, someone might come in and love it. And I'll be there to give them the confidence to help them be the best they can." 

This stems back to Mr Perry's childhood years, most of which was spent in local snooker and pool clubs. 

"It's all I know. I've only ever played snooker," he said, having become a professional player in 1992.

"I did A-Levels but had no intention of using them."

Mr Perry added that he has already had many inquiries about local pool league clubs relocating their team, and that he hopes to start one himself .

"We want to be really active in terms of leagues across the county," he added.

Perry's Palace, which is essentially a private members' club, will be open for all ages.

Children aged 18 and under will be allowed in alone until 7pm. Afterwards, they will need to be accompanied by an adult.

"We want all ages, male and female, and people of all abilities to come," he said, adding that the building's disability ramp is being fixed.

With the new ceiling being fitted this weekend and the pool and snooker tables being installed later this month, JP’s Snooker & Pool Palace is planned to open in early March.

Wisbech Standard: Joe Perry's Snooker & Pool Palace is opening in Chatteris at the former Turkish restaurant Pera Palace.Joe Perry's Snooker & Pool Palace is opening in Chatteris at the former Turkish restaurant Pera Palace. (Image: Joe Perry)