Writes about winning fanciers past and present
BOLTON & WILLIAMSON
While on a recent video tour or the North of England, Albert Taylor and I made a special 150-mile drive up to the east coast of Yorkshire to visit the premier loft in the region - Bolton and Williamson of Bridlington. Seeing the set-up on our arrival, I knew it was well worth the long drive. I stated directly after my visit and several seasons later I’m still of the same opinion today, Bolton & Williamson’s loft is one of the best I’ve ever had the pleasure to visit! Brian Bolton gave me a list of the partners Federation wins, which is impossible to reproduce in this article because it’s far too long, but recorded 76 times 1st. Federation, including 13 times in the 2005 season. The distance of the races range from 70 through to 500 miles, with birdage up nearly 6,000 birds and many times the partners have taken the first three or four positions in the Federation result. In recent seasons Bolton & Williamson have competed in the Midlands National Flying Club, recording 1st. East Section 3rd. open Tours, 1st. East Section Picauville, 1st. East Section Falaise, plus many times 2nd. and 3rd. Section. A young bird won 1st. G.B., equal 1st. in the Las Vegas Classic in November 2005 and the loft has won four R.P.R.A. awards in recent seasons. Fantastic fanciers, with brilliant pigeons!
Brian Bolton and John Williamson were two outstanding fanciers in their own right even before joining forces 20 years ago, Brian racing pigeons since he was a schoolboy. On developing pigeon fanciers' lung, he formed a partnership with John Williamson, although they housed their stock birds together a long time prior to this. Brian has been in the sport 30 years and was always the long-distance man and John the short- to middle-distance fancier. In the two years of my visit, the Bridlington Loft had won the Federation section 14 times and 1st Open ten times with up to 6,000 birds competing. The loft housed two Royal Pigeon Racing Association (RPRA) award winners, won in the North-East Region, which is the biggest region. The partners had won countless club firsts at all distances through the years.
The first pigeon we handled was a Planet Van Loon blue cock that had won eight club firsts, 1st Section, 1st Open in the federation, 1st Scarborough Championship and lifted two RPRA awards. This brilliant cock was raced on the roundabout system, handled medium apple-bodied and looked like an oil painting. Another ace racer we looked at was the blue Van Loon cock which had won three Club firsts and twice 1st Open Federation, with 5,000 birds taking part and scored up to 400 miles. He was small, apple bodied and full of feather quality. A champion long-distance cock we handled, a blue chequer Bob McDonald / Ko Nipius, had scored many times from the Channel including 4 x Ists up to 500 miles and 1st Open Scarborough, York and Hull Combine, Abbeville (300 miles). This cock had all the brilliance of the Bob McDonald of Fraserburgh pigeons - wonderful handling, feathering and eyesign.
Bolton and Williamson raced 40 pairs on the roundabout system and paired up on 14th February. The pairs reared one young bird, then the hens were taken away after sitting eight days on the second round of eggs. The racers flew out around the loft for one hour each, morning and afternoon, and Brian says they always flew well as long as the loft doors were shut. The racers got a few training tosses before the first race – cocks one day ,hens the next- but they didn't need much basket work because they flew so well around the loft. If the birds were fit, they would race every weekend, right through to 500 miles, and both sexes went to the same race. Brian said if they came together from the race they never messed around, but went straight into their nest boxes.
The partners were heavy feeders and extra maize and peanuts were added to the mixture for the long-distance races. I noted that their birds were all medium or just below medium size, at which John told me that they don't like big pigeons, because they believe the smaller type birds keep themselves fitter. Something I found very interesting was that they fed a different com mixture in each of the three old bird sections.
Brian and John kept 60 young birds each season and raced them on the darkness system with outstanding results. They were put on the system at weaning and taken off it about five weeks before the first race. The young birds' loft had two sections and the sexes were split and allowed to run together on a Friday in the racing season. They started training early and during the season the young birds had three chucks a week. They all flew through to 200 miles and were fed as much mixture as they want. The partners kept 12 pairs of Planet Van Loons and 12 pairs of McDonald/Ko Nipius in their very smart stock loft, which had a nice big flight. They had the Bob McDonald pigeons for 25 years and Planet Van Loon birds were obtained more recently, with outstanding results. One of the main racing hens, a daughter of the number one Planet Van Loon stock cock, was put to stock. This blue chequer hen had won an RPRA award, winning many club Ists and 1st Open Federation with over 5,000 birds taking part. Many other fancier all over the U.K. have done well with stock obtained from the Bridlington loft. The Bolton & Williamson pigeons are brilliant racers and are wonderful to look at. I must say thanks to Brian and John for showing us around their set up that day, their pigeons and lofts were a credit to them.
Bolton and Williamson sold up at the end of 1999 because of Brian's pigeon fanciers' lung, but retained a few birds to form a small stud. It's a shame they had to finish up, but Brian re-started racing again a couple of seasons later and John Williamson decided he no longer wanted to participate in racing pigeons. Brian’s new pigeon partner is his girl friend, Michelle, but they still race under the name Bolton & Williamson. Brian tells me Michelle is at the loft a lot of the time and handles a lot of the loft management because of his Pigeon Lung problem. In fact she only started helping out because of his breathing problem, but is now totally ‘hooked’ and when she is in the loft the birds are all over her. She feeds and cleans out and has a great relationship with pigeons. Brian says, he would not be able to look after the birds so well if it wasn’t for her. Michelle told me, ‘we work as a team, I’m very happy with Brian and the pigeons’. Well, the team had a brilliant season in 2005, they were premier prize winners in the Federation, winning 13 times 1st. open. Well done to Brian and Michelle!