Writes about winning fanciers past and present
THE WORLD FAMOUS LOUELLA LOFTS (PART 1)
I think every pigeon fancier has, at sometime, enjoyed a good day out at the Louella Pigeon World in Leicester! I’ve had several through the years and had some very interesting phone conversations with the late, Louis Massarella, owner of this wonderful pigeon stud. Louis passed away several months ago and the sport of pigeon racing lost one it’s great fanciers and characters. He gave a lot to our sport through the years and made quality pigeons affordable to the working man. I first visited the Massarella stud in 1977, when I was scribing for the Pigeon Racing ‘Gazette’ and was invited up to Leicester, with an article in mind. The Massarella family were so helpful that the finish write up was over six pages long and ran over two months. The articles are nearly 30 years old now and for bit of interest, I’m going to run them again over the next two weeks!
I made my visit to the Louella stud in mid-June and because of the freedom I was given in the lofts, and the wealth of matter I received this report will be in two parts, to be continued next week. I made the 100 miles trip up the Ml to Leicester with three good friends and we arrived at Louis Massarella's farm at 12.30hrs, to be welcomed by the newly appointed loft manager, Jack Paley. I had spoken to a Mr. Paley many times on the phone when arranging this visit but I didn't know until I met him that he was the Jack Paley of 'Woodsider' fame.
He ushered us into the new showroom where fanciers come on Open days and purchase first class stock at very reasonable prices. This light and airy place was very nicely set out with show pens and photos of the many champions at the stud, around the walls. It was opened in November and open weekends take place in the winter, when about 250 old birds are for sale every open weekend. During the summer, open days take place on Sundays, (as fanciers are racing on Saturdays) and about 100 young birds are put up for sale on these days. There is a large car park surrounded with green fields and coach parties are welcomed. After we had inspected the showroom, Jack took us to his cottage for a meal which his wife, Shirley, had prepared for us, after which we sat and talked about the sport in general.
Jack looks after the continental strains and Louis Massarella's son, John, runs the British families. Stocks of most corns and seeds are kept and they make up their own mixtures to what they think the birds need. Only first class corn is fed and Jack says it's better than the corn he used to give champion 'Woodsider.' The pigeons for sale are housed in 16 sections behind the showroom and are split into their different strains, etc. The champions and their sons and daughters are bred in what Louis Massarella calls the racing loft, which is by the side of the stock sections and, in fact, this is the old Massarella loft which Louis used to race to. John lives 12 miles away and a lot of breeding goes on at his home. Louis also has five stud stallions at the Kirby Park farm, two of which are direct sons of Derby winners, and these stallions serve about 300 mares between mid-April and mid August.
Louis Massarella started up in the sport at the age of nine with sub-standard birds obtained from everywhere, including the local fish market. The first good birds were obtained from Louis good friend, George Jarmy of Norwich, an Ace flyer of the 20's. When he was 17-y-o he had to give up pigeons to join the family's Ice Cream business, although the young Louis wasn't keen on the trade. At 21 he was manager of the family farms at Hugglescote and he visited a lot of fanciers in this area, although it was many years before he started up again. Louis finally began again at the age of 32, with birds purchased from Reg Hamblin of Leicester, and they included some of his best birds, such as `Newmarket King' his six-times Lerwick cock and sons and daughters of 'Newmarket Queen,' the King's Cup winner.
Later, Louis obtained `Newmarket Queen' but previous to this Mr. Hamblin bred the dam of champion 'Twilight' from this hen. He purchased a pair of Hansenne x Jurion Blue Pieds from Mr. Brookes of Bromsgrove and the cock NURP 42 K 3532 was the winner of 11-lsts and three times lst. Federation. This pair bred `Champion Snowball' for the Massarella loft and he was 20 times a prize winner in 22 races including twice Ist. South Section, 2nd Open G.N.R. Thurso Combine and Spitfire Trophy winner 1953. He was always on the look out for good pigeons and many more champions were introduced, including champion 'Twilight' at the cost of £625 in 1960. John Massarella rates `Twilight' as the greatest Pau King George V Cup winner ever. Louis didn't only purchase the great 'Twilight' for her outstanding performances, but also because she was a granddaughter of his first King's Cup purchase, 'Newmarket Queen,' and would strengthen his original Hamblin family.
In 1961 the great `Solway King' was purchased from Irving & Johnstone and John Massarella rates him as the all time great of Louella lofts, and I second that! Not only was he a champion racer, winning lst. Section, lst. Open S.N.F.C. Rennes, l lth. Section, 31st Open S.N.F.C. Rennes, 17th Section, 96th Open S.N.F.C. Rennes, but he was a champion breeder and it's said his best mating was with the great `Griselda.' Champion 'Solway King' died 2nd January 1977 at the age of 22-years and was filling his eggs up to the age of 18 years old. `Townfoot Goodboy III' and 'Lancashire Rose' were purchased in 1964 and 'High Noon' in 1965. Champion 'Lancashire Rose' was bred by Hugh Sutton and raced by J.O. Warren & son, and was the record long distance Pau National King's Cup winner, flying 722 miles. The great Rene Boizard hen, `Louvre II,' was introduced in 1967 and she was the winner of lst, 4th, 5th. & 9th. Open Barcelona (590 miles) National four consecutive years. 'Ramses' the champion Dordin cock was imported from France and 'Mausi' from West Germany in 1968. Louella lofts saw the great champion `Stranraer Simon' introduced in 1969 and one of the reasons for purchasing this Ist. open S.N.F.C. Rennes winner, was because his pedigree goes back on four lines to one of the Massarella early purchases, `Galabank Producer.'
Louis Massarella finished his very full and highly successful racing career in 1964 and has been selling progeny off his champions since. He was an `ace' from all distances, North and South, having timed three birds in from the Shetlands in 18 seconds and three birds from Pau to win the Orchardson Trophy for best average in the National in the North Road Federation. He won 120 times in the first six in four consecutive seasons. His last year of racing (in 1964) was an outstanding year on the road winning 28 positions out of a possible 30 in the South Section of the Derbyshire N. R. Federation in three consecutive weeks, in the N.R.C.C. young bird race winning 19 Open positions in the first 63, taking 7th, 14th, 16th, 23rd, 24th, 25th, !6th, 29th, 30th, 34th, 38th, 48th, 50th, 52nd, ,3rd, 54th, 59th, 62nd, 63rd, flying in the great North Road Berwick Combine, winning 5th, 11th, 16th, 9th, 22nd Open and finishing the season winning 1st. Leicestershire Federation Lerwick and 2nd Derbyshire Fed Lerwick. Great stuff!
The Louella lofts give a tremendous amount of pigeons to charity sales every year and this year Louis donated a Vauxhall Chevette G.L.S. Estate car and 19 other prizes for a Grand Draw in aid of the 1977 Blackpool Olympiad. The nineteen other prizes were direct children from he Louella champions, 'Bliksem,' 'Motta,' ‘Argenton’, 'Workman,' etc, and in terms of cash the donation totals approx £5,000. The Chevette was won by Mr. Fred Griffin of Chippenham, Wilts, and Louis Massarella presented the car to him at one of the Louella stud open days. The stud has started a new thing this year to help Feds and clubs raise money for transporter funds, etc., by giving them six top class young birds for a special reduced price and the Federation or club can auction them off. About 10 clubs have gone into it this season with great success and in one batch a very inbred young bird to `Motta' was sent out and raised £78.
Champion `Townfoot Good Boy 111’ died on the 22nd June, in fact, two days after my visit, 17 years old. This great old Mealy Cock was bred and raced by David Angus of Symmington and he won lst. Open S.N.F.C. Rennes (524 miles) in 1962. He was bred down from Bricoux bloodlines and was introduced into the Louella stud in 1964 at the cost of £600.
This week we have had Louis Massareila the 'ace' racer and next week we have a report on my inspection of the Louella stud and the champions at the Leicester establishment in 1977. I also interviewed John Massarella, so read about his ideas and views next week. I can be contacted on telephone: 01372 463480. See yer!
TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT.