The Late Great John Hall
Winner Of 4 x 1st UNC
By Good Corn
The late great John Hall with his 1st UNC Luxembourg silverware.
I have written about the ‘Late Great John Hall’ of Skinningrove a number of times in my reports over the years, John one of the quietest men of the sport and his birds provided a number of top class performances throughout the 50s and 60s. The legend won 4x1st Up North Combines in his time, a recorded shared with Bill Porritt of Staithes and B & K Simpson of Skinningrove. John’s outstanding Up North Combine winning performances started in 1952 when he won 1st UNC Luxembourg with’5166’ a 4y dark cheq cock from a convoy of 6,734 birds, the Combine winning cock recorded a pole position winning vel of 970.3 for the covered 455 miles. The Combine winning cock flew the channel six times and was never out of the first three in the Club, this included scoring 2nd Club Luxemburg and 2nd Club Brussels. ‘5166’ was a granddaughter of ‘7544’ a 1947-bred barless mealy Hansenne x Gits cock; the barless mealy cock was a fantastic Pigeon for he topped the East Cleveland Federation five times in his racing career, with all his racing been from the inland races. No doubt the cock was a great racer and an equally great breeder for he was responsible for John’s rise to fame. His sire was a Hansenne via Golightly Bros of Easington; and his dam was a red cheq Gits hen from the Royal Lofts via Mr Steele. ‘7544’ was a racing machine that bred winners; he bred winners with every hen he was ever paired too, which shows what a fantastic cock he was. In fact the last two eggs he sired hatched winners, he more than proved his worth to the very end. All his offsprings were medium cast Pigeons, with very strong eye sign.
Yearling mealy cock winning 1st UNC Lille in 1961.
It did not take John long to record his second Combine win for the lad beat all the UNC for the second time in 1953 from young bird Welwyn Garden City from a distance of 193 miles with ‘233840’ a young pied cock who recorded a vel of 1530 to top the Combine charts when there were 4,678 birds competing. The baby proved he had something for he won another 1st and 2nd as a youngster, John got the very best out of him that year and put him to stock after the racing season. John knew his worth and also knew what was in his breeding; the Combine winning ‘233840’ was a grandson of the brillient barless mealy cock. John who worked as a burner at Skinningrove Steel Works continued his winning throughout the years; the much-respected man won 1st Club, 1st Fed and 17th UNC Bourges in 1958 out of an entry of 6,615 birds. John enjoyed his third Combine win in 1960 when his 2y blue pied hen ‘5737’ topped the Combine charts from Cormeilles, a distance of 398 miles, from a convoy of 8,463 birds. The chart-topping blue pied hen was a direct daughter of the one and only ‘7544’; once again the barless mealy cock had delivered the top class goods. John topped the Fed for a second time in 1960, this time from the old bird Welwyn Garden City race. John became a living legend in 1961 when he won his record breaking fourth UNC win, all the hard work and dedication resulted in something you only dream of. John’s Combine winning performance was achieved at Lille by ‘4923’ a yearling mealy hen when there were 11,779 birds competing, ‘4923’ recorded a vel of 1111.6 from a distance of 320 miles. The mealy hen was the previous scorer of 2nd Club, 2nd Fed and 6th UNC from the very hard young bird Newhaven Harbour National with a vel of 990.2 from a convoy of 7,228 birds, the lad was beaten in the Club and Fed that day by Downs & Son whose youngster won 4th UNC on 993.1. John continued his winning through the swinging 60s, winning 1st Club and 1st Fed old bird Newhaven Harbour in 1963. 1st Club, 8th Fed and 8th UNC young bird Welwyn Garden City was won in the same year out of an entry of 6,266 birds. Two Fed wins were recorded in 1964 with the first being achieved at Lille (2) when 2nd Combine was won when there were 8,798 birds competing, Fed win number two that year came John’s way from young bird Newark. A good race was enjoyed from Bourges in 1965 when a couple of birds were timed to win 1st and 2nd Club, 2nd and 4th Fed, 4th and 10th Combine from a convoy of 5,089 birds. Porritt Bros of Staithes had the honour of winning 1st UNC and a Combine Gold Medal that day with a cheq pied cock. John enjoyed the channel races which he won many times over the years, the lad won 1st Club, 4th Fed and 10th UNC Lillers in 1966 from a convoy of 10,688 birds to add to his long list of channel wins. John topped his final East Cleveland Federation in 1969 from the old bird Hatfield (4) race; the very hard to beat and modest John enjoyed his Pigeons to the end. John had many good Pigeons through his hands right the way through his racing, who could forget the ‘Champion Black Hen’ 59T8462, who flew the channel 7 times. A direct of ‘7544’ she chalked up 30th Combine Bourges in 1961 and 19th UNC Bourges in 1962, the barless mealy cock must surly be one of the best producers of all time.
Dark cheq pied cock winner of 1st UNC Welwyn Garden City in 1953.
John always housed around 30 old birds and 24 young birds; the old birds were paired up in the first week of March each year and were separated in November. The birds were housed in a loft 22ft 6ins long with 4 compartments; 3 of them for the old birds and the remaining section for the youngsters. The loft was 5 feet deep and each old bird section had 6 breeding pens on the back wall with 10 perches above them, air circulated right through the loft. The birds used to trap through the open door, much different from today’s various ways of trapping. Everything about John’s loft was simple and straightforward and the birds were always in top condition, well they had to be for John to have had such an outstanding record. The birds were fed on beans, peas and tares and were exercised twice a day. There was always someone there with a car on hand to train the birds as often as possible, the youngsters would be often singled up a number of times to give them more experience on a race day. John’s brothers, which included Joe and his friend Jerry Rowe would often be seen at the loft on race days, it always reminded me of a Football manager, his assistants and subs sat on the bench on match days, for there was always a number of people sat there waiting for the birds to arrive. One thing was for sure; they were more often than not satisfied with John’s birds performances. John had a technique-he said “get good stock, get good corn, get a good loft and work on the Pigeons and always test your birds. Don’t keep too many back and breed off the best, mated to the best. Exercise them morning and evening, giving them at least one hour each session when racing. This makes the weaklings crack up and the strong Pigeons win.”
Blue pied hen, winner of 1st UNC Cormeilles in 1960.
John was one of a number of fanciers who qualified and was willing to act as a judge at local shows during the winter months. This was done to save time, also give Clubs the full benefit of good judges. The list of names and addresses of the qualified judges were published each year in the Up North Combine handbook in the early 60s through to the 70s. I can remember my late father George, once telling me of a bird that won and chalked up a number of show cards in Skinningrove’s Club shows. John would often say, “I don’t know what it is but the bird must have something for keep being awarded prizes”. As it happened John offered to judge a Skinningrove show for whatever reason one day and my father’s bird happened to be in the pen, I don’t know if the bird won but it did get a card. John said after the show, “now I have handled the bird, I know why it has done so well in the show pen’. John was always good for the sport simply because he was a winner, the lad put his heart and soul into his birds and rightly so reaped the rewards. Fanciers loved and respected him for what he was; he set the standards other fanciers had to try and better to become the best. I spent many a happy hour sat talking Pigeons with the late Arthur ‘Tecca’ Howard, a Clubmate of John’s. Tecca a very good Pigeon man himself who enjoyed much success over the years from both inland and the channel, with his son Alan and Tecca’s brother, often spoke of John Hall. Tecca always had a good word for John who was a big believer for letting his birds do the talking, and by hell they did just that throughout his successful years. Tecca told me a few times over the years that John, who flew the next loft to Tecca, called at his loft and had a chat about their birds. There was onetime when Tecca’s birds were performing well, the two of them were sat talking when a couple of Tecca’s birds like they often did jumped in amoungst the cabbages and brussels; as soon as they hit the patch Tecca scared them off. John quickly jumped in and said “leave them alone, it’s not doing them any harm the way your birds are coming”. Wherever the four winds take you in Pigeons and you mention Skinningrove in the 50s and 60s, nowt’s so sure whoever you are talking too will mention the late great John Hall. Like I have said John was a very quite man where his Pigeons were concerned, he never gave any of his methods or tactics away. It was always said whatever he learned and knew about Pigeons, he took them with him to his grave.
Let's not forget that John and his Pigeons were delivering the good when there was a number of outstanding fanciers and Pigeons around. The likes of Kilner & Donkin, Horden with the outstanding “The Quite Man” (my all time favourite) the winner of
1st Club, 8th Fed, 67th UNC Bourges. 3rd Club Lille. 1st Club, 7th Fed Bourges. 2nd
Club, 6th Fed, 20th UNC Bourges. 3rd Club Lille. 1st Club, 2nd Fed, 9th UNC Bourges.
2nd Club, 21st Fed Bourges. 1st Club, 9th Fed, 97th UNC Lille and 2nd Club, 2nd Fed, 6th
UNC Angouleme when beat by a loftmate. Rutter Bros, South Hetton with the fantastic “The Thousand Pound Hen” the winner of 4th Club Lille. 1st Club, 1st Fed, 4th UNC Bourges. 4th Club, 4th Fed Ashford. 1st Club Welwyn. 4th Club, 11th Fed, 71st
UNC Bourges. 2nd Club, 7th Fed Peterborough. 1st Club, 4th Fed, 9th UNC Bourges. 4th
Club, 18th Fed Bourges. 1st Club, 4th Fed, 7th UNC Lille. 1st, Club, 3rd Fed, 16th UNC Bourges. 1st Club, 2nd Fed, 9th UNC Bourges. Taylor & Sons, Ashington with the very impressive “The Thousand Pound Cock” (“Blue Boy”) the winner of 3rd Club Lille.
1st Club, 11th Fed Lille. 1st Club, 3rd Fed, 27th UNC Bourges. 1st club, 4th Fed, 53rd UNC Lille. 3rd Club, 7th Fed, 63rd UNC Bourges. 1st Club, 1st Fed, 9th UNC Bourges. 1st Club, 1st Fed, 3rd UNC Bourges. 1st Club, 5th Fed, 39th UNC Bourges. 1st Club, 1st Fed, 7th UNC Lille. 1st Club, 3rd Fed, 23rd UNC Bourges and 56th UNC Lille. R Middleton, Pelton Fell with the brillient “Chester Express” the winner of 4th Club Ashford. 1st Club, 3rd Fed, 80th UNC Orleans. 1st Club, 1st Fed, 46th UNC Lille. 1st Club, 1st Fed, 44th UNC Cormeilles. 1st Club, 2nd Fed, 10th Section Lille National. 2nd Club, 6th Fed Lille. 1st Club, 1st Fed, 2nd Section, 11th UNC Lille National. 1st Club, 1st Fed, 3rd UNC Lille. 1st Club, 1st Fe, 35th UNC Lille, 80th UNC Lille and 13th UNC Beauvais. John flew against many more top class fanciers and their stars of their lofts, far to many to mention but will be always talked about of years gone by.
John’s Dark cheq cock, winner of 1st UNC Luxembourg in 1952.
John’s brother Joe kept the loft on after John’ death, Joe himself won 1st Club, 1st Fed and 7th UNC Bourges in 1971 from a convoy of 5,320 birds. Like his brother, Joe was a very nice and understanding man who was always going to be in John’s shadow. Joe raced for a while then decided to leave the sport, he was not getting any younger and as he was living out of the village and I believe was a non-driver, you cannot always get through the things you once could. Joe did spend sometime at the loft of his former Clubmate late Tash Cuthbert at Carling How; I can just imagine them sat there with Tash taking a draw of his fag while talking about the good old days. Downs Bros, Steve & Terry took over the loft when Joe left the sport, the two lads’ were left one of John’s old 1st Up North Combine winners. I’m not too sure but I believe it was the mealy hen that topped the Combine from Lille in 1961, the hen who had more then earned her corn was a good age and was left to see out the rest of her days where she started her life on the road to her Combine winning performance. Times up for this week, any news to Good Corn 139 Zetland Row Skinningrove Saltburn Cleveland TS13 4BN. Tel; 01287 643624 or Email; firstname.lastname@example.org