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“ON THE ROAD” WITH KEITH MOTT.

 

LOOKING BACK OVER THE YEARS (PART 5.)

 

Stan Edgington of Eashing

The name Edgington has long been connected to the pigeon fancy of the Godalming and Guilford area of Surrey. It all started with Harold Edgington who passed away in 1961 and who was an ‘ace’ at the art of racing pigeons. Harold started up in 1924 and was one of the founder members of the Godalming & District F.C. which was formed in1926. He was the secretary for 20 years and held the posts of President and Chairman at one time or another. His son, Stan, started up racing pigeons in 1932 when he married his wife, Evelyn, and the start was made with pigeons from Fred Seaman of Woking. Because of his heavy business commitments, he had to retire from the sport in 1947, but started up again with pigeons from Chick Clarke in 1957. Stan was a carpenter and joiner by trade and had his own building firm in Eashing. He was President of the Godalming club several times and inherited his father’s gift of racing pigeons with outstanding success.

 

 

After many phone calls between Pat McFadden, my late friend Alec Martin and myself, I finally visited the Eashing home of Stan Edgington in mid-October 1976. I made the visit with Alec Martin as he had been a good friend of Stan’s for many years and I would never have found the Edgington’s home deeply set in the Surrey countryside. Stan’s house was in seven acres of grounds, wonderfully set out with a pond, willow and fir trees, and about ten large aviaries filled with hundreds of birds. Stan was an all-round bird lover and kept foreign finches, canaries, quail, doves and pheasants, as well as his ‘ace’ team of racing pigeons.

 

 

Stan’s very neat self-built lofts looked a treat with nice big, well-kept lawns in front. The birds drop in on race days was great, with no trees near the lofts to obstruct their flight path to the traps. The families kept in 1976 were Clarke’s red chequers, Seaman’s gay pieds and Schumann dark chequers, which Stan had imported that season direct from Schumann in the U.S.A. Stan liked a nice pied pigeon and his family were bred down from his Fred Seaman 1968 gay pied stock hen. She was medium, with deep cast in the hand and was the dam of many winners, including a longest old bird race winner from Bergerac (450 miles). The birds were fed on a mixture of peas, beans and maize. The yearlings were paired up in mid-February, with the older birds being paired at the beginning of March. Bob-hole traps and deep litter were used in all three lofts and Stan said loft dryness is a must to maintain good health and performance. The 40 pairs of old birds were housed in a 26ft x 8ft loft, the 60 young birds bred each year lived in a 26ft x 5ft structure and the four pairs of stock birds had a compartment each in a 26ft x 4ft stock loft, which was divided into four sections.

 

 

The loft had recorded many outstanding performances, the highlights of which were: 1962: 1st club, 1st Surrey Federation, 1st London S.R. Combine Poitiers (4122 birds), 1969: 1st section, 188th open N.F.C. Avranches (7986 birds), 1970: 11th section N.F.C. Avranches (1309 birds), 1971: 12th section N.F.C. Pau (606 birds), 1st club, 2nd Surrey Federation, 2nd open S.M.T. Combine Nantes (3376 birds), 1972: 27th section, 171st open N.F.C. Nantes (9907 birds), 1st, 17th section, 163rd open N.F.C. Avranches (8271 birds), 1974: 19th, 71st section, 22nd, 118th open N.F.C. Avranches (10,683 birds). These brief details are all I could get out of Stan as he didn’t keep pigeon records because of the lack of time, but showed me a stack of diplomas, which included scores of firsts from all distances. The London S.R. Combine winner was the dark chequer cock, ‘Eashing Pride’, which was purchased as a young bird from Ron Ralf of Peaslake. This great pigeon won many other premier positions besides 1st open Combine, including Best in Show at the Surrey Federation Show. The 2nd open S.M.T. Combine Nantes pigeon was a Clarke / Seaman cross gay pied cock, which was beaten by Peter Notridge’s grizzle cock, ‘Canterbury Silvermist’. Stan had no favourite birds, they were all the same to him and they got the same treatment. The birds didn’t get much training because of the lack of time and Stan hated driving. He was very anti eye sign and said it was rubbish and a waste of time. He parted his old birds at the end of racing, in July and when we visited the Eashing loft in mid-October the pigeons look in mint condition, being almost over their moult. That visit to Stan’s garden all those years ago was very interesting; he really was the ‘bird man of Eashing’.

 

 

Geoff Snelling of Aldershot.

During the Christmas holiday I arranged to make the 25 mile drive to Aldershot, Hants to visit Geoff Snelling who had enjoyed an incredible season in 1980, winning many major positions including 1st open Southern South Road Amalgamation (8,687 birds) Saintes and winning the Ash Vale R.P.C. Old and Young Bird Averages, the Solent Federation three longest races Average, and the Southern SR Amalgamation Average. Geoff's 1st open Amalgamation winning pigeon was his yearling red grizzle cock called 'Magri' which won the Amalgamation by 31 ypm, earning him an RPRA Southern Region Award. 'Magri's' sire, a Denys Brothers grizzle, was bred by Bernard Miles from the two champion stock pigeons 'Grey Flight II' and 'Little Mo', both from Denys Brothers in Belgium. The dam of the Amalgamation winner was a red chequer hen bred by the late Alec Martin of Godalming from his red Janssens family which were highly successful. Geoff raced his pigeons on the natural and widowhood systems, 'Magri' won the Amalgamation on widowhood.

 

 

Geoff has been in the sport since 1969 and got hooked on pigeons when feeding flown out strays at the bakery where he worked. He obtained birds from most of the local fanciers around the Godalming area and said Arthur Engel let him have some good stock at no expense. On starting up the performances of Eric Cannon and Alec Martin both of Godalming drew his attention to the sport and said he had some birds from the north of England in those early days which were moderately successful around the middle distance. His first club was the Godalming & Dist FC, with most of the members encouraging him, but in particular Bill Marshall. He said he made many mistakes early on, but hopefully he has learnt by them. His biggest mistake he said was probably lack of attention to detail. His first loft was a converted shed and looking back on it, says it was a terrible shamble’s.

 

 

Another key pigeon in winning the Southern SR Amalgamation Averages was the two year old blue cock 'Troy', he won in 1980, 5th club, Exeter, 1st club, 9th Solent Federation, 27th SSR Amalgamation (12,174 birds) Nantes, 5th club, 35th Solent Federation, 53rd SSR Amalgamation Saintes. One of Geoff's best hens at that time was the wonderful blue chequer pied hen, 'Joanne', and her racing and breeding record was out of this world. On the road she won:-1975: (YB) 4th club Weymouth. 1976: 1st club, 9th Surrey Federation, 21st SMT Combine Niort. 1977: 2nd club, 47th Surrey Federation, 77th SMT Combine Niort, 8th club, 35th Surrey Federation, 93rd SMT Combine Bergerac. 1978: 35th Sect, 371st open (8,659 birds) Nantes NFC, 22nd Sect, 114th open (4,515 birds) Pau NFC. 1979: ­101st Sect, 204th open (10,567 birds) Nantes NFC. 1980: 1st club, 15th Solent Federation, 30th Southern SR Amalgamation (6,815 birds) Bergerac, and she was the dam of many prize winners including 'Bright Eyes', granddame of 'Noble Saint', great-grand dam of 'Troy' and is a sister to 'Little Annie', winner of 3rd club, 3rd Surrey Federation, 3rd SMT Combine Le Mans in 1979.

 

 

The main Snelling loft was 14ft x 8ft, with three sections, one for young birds, one for natural old birds and the other for the cocks on widowhood. The birds were trapped through drop holes and were scraped out regularly. He kept about 20 pairs of old bird racers and his five pairs of stock birds were housed in a small stock loft. The stock birds were paired the second week in February and the racers late in March, with about 30 youngsters being bred each season. The Snelling birds were mainly raced on natural as Geoff likes to send hens to the longer races and said he has had 10 cocks on widowhood for two years and had proved very successful. The birds were sent every week, providing they were sound, and were given a week's rest between the longest races. He took young bird racing very seriously, as his aim was to turn them eventually into Channel winners.

 

 

Geoff's family was based around Eric Cannon's pigeons, combined with his champion stock cock 'Vaguely Noble' which was bred by Louis Massarella from champions 'Whitehaven King' and 'Premonition'. 'Vaguely Noble' had bred pigeons to score to Pau on the south and Berwick on the north and was the sire of 'Joanne' and 'Little Annie'. Geoff said his main family race and win at all distances but were best on the longer Channel events. He said his most thrilling experience was when he clocked his only entry 'Joanne' to win 22nd sect, 114th open Pau NFC in 1978. His wife Ann took an interest in the birds and looked after the birds when Geoff was working away from home. The first time she ever clocked in was the Le Mans smash of 1979, the hen was aptly named 'Little Annie' won 3rd SMT Combine.

 

 

The birds were fed on a mixture of beans and maize, with a little barley in the winter. They also got Red Band and linseed during the moulting period. The old birds got a weekly toss from the coast whenever possible and the youngsters were only raced and trained lightly. Geoff considered eyesign a very interesting subject, about which he would like to learn more. He said for specialised distance racing, the late Eric Cannon of Godalming, was the most consistent fancier in the south of England and nothing was too much trouble for his birds. Geoff enjoyed showing during the close season as this helps pass the quiet months and gives him something to aim for. He told novices to take note of the birds that win shows and discuss the whys and wherefores with both owner and judge. Geoff inbred to maintain a basic family from which he out crossed. Occasionally late breds can be of use to maintain certain bloodlines for stock purposes, said Geoff, and when selecting producers, he firstly looks for a good pedigree.

 

 

The 1976 season was another outstanding year for the Snelling loft, winning the Godalming Channel Average, with the star bird being the mealy cock 'Minstrel' winner of 1st club, 1st Surrey Federation, 10th SMT Combine Angers. In 1977 Geoff won the Godalming Channel Average and the Surrey Federation Channel Average. Geoff maintained that his racing was geared to winning Channel races only and inland racing was only used as a means to condition birds for their main objectives. He had been racing from his Aldershot address since 1978 and says he was still rebuilding his team. He envisages in the next few years that he will gradually have a crack at the International events.

 

 

The 1988 Cancer Research Amalgamation event saw 2,821 birds entered for the 280-mile race from Tours. The race was a stiff one after liberation in a NE wind, only two pigeons recording over 1000ypm. Winning pigeon was a two-year-old Widowhood blue chequer cock owned by Geoff Snelling and he named his new champion 'Heron Wood Researcher'.  His latest Amalgamation winner was bred down from 'Magri' and the sire of 'Researcher' was Geoff's good blue chequer cock 'Heron Wood Hat­ Trick', the winner of nine times 1st club for the Snelling loft. There you have it, Geoff Snelling, a brilliant fancier with wonderful loft of pigeons!

 

 

Ron & Chris Cox of Godalming.

Year after year Ron & Chris Cox of Godalming had put up outstanding performances in the National Flying Club and Combine, but in 1978 they won the ultimate in Combine racing by recording 1st open from the SMT Combine old bird Vire event. Ron and Chris' combine winner was a Gunn grizzle cock, ‘Rowly Jim’, which was bred from two of the best pigeons at Rowly Lofts. The Mr & Mrs partnership were Godalming Club champions in 1976 and 1977, with many outstanding positions in the South Coast and Surrey Federations. The main foundation of the loft was seven pigeons purchased from the late G. L. Gunn of Farnham in 1957, when the partners had just started up. These Gunn pigeons had been successful for the Cox's from the word go and had shown their best on hard days when the chips have been down. Chris said some of their best birds were bred down from these originals, including their champion red cock, winner of  41st British Section Barcelona 1965, 31st British Section Barcelona 1966, 15th British Section Barcelona 1967. Another was the red cheq cock, ‘146’, winner of 180th open Pau NFC and 1st Federation Nantes, plus a hen to win 63rd open Pau NFC and more recently a hen to win 11th open Nantes NFC. They had introduced several gift birds from Alec & Molly Martin of Worplesdon, which also raced well. They obtained four gift birds from Mr Chinnielinski of Woking and two of these birds won 1st Federation for Ron and Chris. Several Cattrysse pigeons were introduced with outstanding results. Their set-up consisted of two lofts, one 24ft x 6ft for the racers and another 21st x 9ft with flight, which housed mostly stock birds and some old favourites. The birds were trapped through drop holes and the lofts were kept spotlessly clean.

On my visit to the Cranleigh Loft the first of the stock birds to be inspected was an old grizzle hen named ‘Rowly Duchess’. She was medium size, long cast in the hand and she was the dam of many winners, including ‘Rowly Jim’ and three other 1st Federation winners when paired to the champion stock cock ‘Rowly Duke’. The partners bred their 11th open Nantes NFC hen from ‘Duke’ & ‘Duchess’. ‘Rowly Duke’ was a handsome Gun red chequer cock and was the sire of countless winners including four 1st Federation winners. After looking at several other gems we moved onto the racing loft which at that time housed eight 1st Federation winners and 15 birds which had flown Bergerac on the day of liberation. I handled the dark chequer cock ‘Rowly Supreme’ and he was a firm favourite at the Rowly Lofts. He was a handsome apple-bodied cock and was the winner of 1st club, 16th Federation, 28th Combine Nantes, 1st club, 1st Federation Exmouth, 2nd club, 12th Federation Rennes. Supreme was of the Gunn strain and was the sire of ‘Rowly Jim’, the Vire Combine winner. Ron and Chris ran their own Butcher's shop in Cranleigh and didn't find much time for training, but the birds got an open loft on most days. The feed was a good mixture of beans, maple peas, tares, maize, wheat and barley which they mixed themselves. Linseed was given once a week. Grit and clean water were always before the birds. The stock birds and birds which were wanted for the shorter races were paired the third week in February, with the distance team being paired up later. The race birds were left to run together and were allowed natural love pairings. Over the years they raced the young birds hard and then raced them very lightly as yearlings, which wasn't the case with the loft's 1977 star ‘Rowly Princess’. She won 1st club, 1st Federation, 9th SMT Combine Bergerac in 1977, previously having very little racing. Princess was a two-year-old Gunn blue hen and both her sire and dam had flown Bergerac on the day of liberation.

 

 

The partner's performances in the Nationals were outstanding as follows: 1962: 140th open Pau; 1965: 180th open St Malo; 1967: 63rd open Pau; 1971: 11th open Nantes, 56th, 66th and 123rd open Avranches; 1973: 80th open Pau; 1974: 146th and 181st open Pau, 19th open Aranches; 1975: 154th open Pau, 124th and 165th open Vire; 1976: 274th open Avranches; 1977: 148th open Nantes (Pau not flown in 1976 and 1977). Ron and Chris' performances in the Federation and Combine were endless but they won the South Road Federation Averages Trophy 1970-1972, runner-up 1975 and South Coast Federation Continental Trophy 1970-1972, runner-up 1976. They won the Surrey Federation Longest Old Bird Race Shield (1st Federation Bergerac) and the ‘50th Anniversary Trophy’ (1st Federation Weymouth young bird) in 1977. Many major trophies had been won in 1978, including the E. Matthews Trophy for 1st open Combine Vire.

 

 

As well as having an excellent year racing in the SMT Combine in 1978 the partners enjoyed a great season flying in the London & South Coast Combine with the Cranleigh Club. A wonderful blue chequer pied yearling Gunn hen recorded 2nd club, 2nd Federation, 4th open London & South Coast combine (6,272 birds) Rennes and Chris had named her ‘Rowly Lady’. This hen was real class, being medium apple bodied, with excellent feathering and eye, and her sire, a blue pied, recorded 15th SMT Combine Vire in 1978. Another star of the 1978 season was the yearling Gunn mealy cock ‘Rowly Pride’ and he chalked up 1st club, 1st Federation, 4th open London & South Coast Combine (5,422 birds) Nantes. His dam was the Cox's good red hen ‘Rowly Lass’, winner of many major positions in the NFC and Combine. The partners had differences over the birds and Chris called Ron 'a pigeon hoarder', as he liked to save the birds and not overtax them. The fancier they most admired was the late Fred Seaman of Cranleigh. They said he kept a small team of pigeons but was always in the early times from Pau, Palamos and Bergerac in spite of Fred's illness. In 1977 he recorded 1st section, 11th open Pau NFC and 7th open Palamos BBC and he was always willing to pass on useful tips. A true gentleman fancier, they said. When I visited Ron and Chris' home the pigeons and lofts were in wonderful condition and full of real class. The partners are no longer with us, in later years moved to Farncombe, near Godalming and still raced their pigeons with outstanding success. There you have it, Ron and Chris Cox of Godalming.

 

 

Alec & Molly Martin of Worplesdon.

I first met the late Alec & Molly Martin in the early 1970s being drawn by their fantastic performances in the National Flying Club and SMT Combine which I covered in the fancy press. A 20-mile drive to Worplesdon, near Guildford in Surrey took me to the outstanding lofts of Alec & Molly Martin. Alec was nick named 'Mons' Martin and his loft 'Little Belgium' as Alec was a student of the Belgian families and the lofts housed the Belgian strains of Pol Bostyn, Denys Brothers, Descamps Van Hasten, Janssen of Arendonk and Fabry. I asked Alec why he preferred the Belgian pigeons and his answer was that he believed the best criterion when buying stock is pedigree with a family history of winning pigeons. Where else do we find so many crack lofts that make a habit of winning national and international races? Most of the Belgian champions are raced on after national events and prove they are not flukes, but most English national winners never see the light of day after they win. Alec maintained the main factor is birds bred from winners paired to winners. The racing records of these great Belgian champions show they are not just one-off performances, the list is endless. He said look at the racing records of ‘Benohi’ (Bostyn), ‘Bliksem’ (Denys Brothers), ‘Prins’ (Denys Brothers) and ‘Motta’ (Van Hee) to name a few, whose racing careers were long and strong, being second to none in the world for quality. Alec said there had been a marked take over with Belgian pigeons in this country in the early 1970s. Look at the Busschaert pigeons in the sprint events and the Cattrysse NFC winners in the early 1970s. Many of the top fanciers in England today owe their success to the Continental breeders. Alec always said if you can't beat them, join them, which seems to be very good advice. Everyone is trying to breed that champion and Alec took what he hoped to be a short cut with the best of the Belgian pigeons.

 

 

The Martin's loft record in short and long-distance race since the 1970s and 1980s was second to none and must have rated as one of the top south of England lofts, scoring premier positions in the Federation, Combine and National every season. The partners had been premier prize winners on numerous occasions in the Godalming DFC, which was the strongest club in the RPRA Southern Region, with a membership of 70 and every position was hard earned with a club radius of 10 miles. Alec and Molly had many great seasons but 1979 was a bumper year recording many firsts with the highlights being: 2nd SMT Combine Le Mans (smash), 42nd SMT Combine Angers, 5th SMT Combine Niort, 23rd SMT Combine Bergerac, 6th SMT Combine Plymouth (young birds), 1st Surrey Federation Exeter, 1st Surrey Federation Weymouth (young birds), lifting ten cups and trophies including the Surrey Federation Continental Average, SMT Combine Continental Average and the SMT Combine Old Bird and Young Bird Combine Average. One of the principal pigeons in lifting the Federation and Combine Averages was the Fabry blue cock ‘Radar’ and he recorded 2nd SMT Combine (3,011 birds) from the Le Mans smash. In the early part of the season he was on widowhood and Alec named him ‘Radar’ because he homed in thick mist from Le Mans. The Martin's 5th SMT Combine winner from Niort was The Warren x Medway blue cock ‘Rising Star’. The pigeon to tie up the averages was the Young Janssen x Fabry red cock ‘Milo’ and he was 6th SMT Combine (2,451 birds) Plymouth. This little cock was a grandson of Alec's ace Janssen stock cock ‘Chief’, which bred many good pigeons for the Martins and he  was purchased from Roger Timmermans of Strombeek, Belgium, and was a grandson of ‘Oude Voss’ and the world-famous ‘Merckx’, both of Janssen Brothers of Arendonk. Another golden year for the Martins was 1975 when they won 1st club, 1st Surrey Federation, 3rd SMT Combine Bergerac, 1st club, 2nd Surrey Federation, 15th SMT Combine Avranches, 2nd club, 3rd Surrey Federation, 9th SMT Combine Niort, 16th section E, 55th open Pau(NFC). As well as many other firsts, they lifted the Surrey Federation Old Bird Average Cup, Surrey Federation Channel Average Cup, Surrey Federation Longest Old Bird Race Shield, 55th open Pau NFC and 3rd SMT Combine Bergerac was recorded on the same day. A brilliant performance!

 

 

The Martin's first birds were obtained from Stan Edgington and Ron & Chris Cox of Godalming in 1959. The Belgian families in the loft were obtained at considerable trouble and expense and as the records show, bred birds to race and win Federation and Combines from 70 to 500 miles. Alec always told novices to buy stock from one of the successful one-family specialists, seek his advice and stick to that one strain. One of Alec's all-time best pigeons was the old pencil blue cock ‘77’ and he was off the Martin's old original family. This nice cock recorded 1st Hersham open Weymouth, being 60ypm in front of the next loft on the result sheet and the Martins recorded 1st, 2nd and 3rd  open, 209th open Avranches Young Bird National, and flew Pau four times, three times on the winning day. His sire was Alec's ‘The Nantes Cock’, which scored four years in succession from Nantes including 6th section E, 36th open Nantes NFC. Another favourite at the Martin's loft was the Fabry blue pied cock ‘White Nose’, which won several outstanding club firsts against 500 birds. He had many top Federation positions and scored in the 1979 Nantes National.

 

 

The main racing loft was 18ft x 7ft with three compartments, one for young birds, two for old birds, with a corridor running the length of the loft. The birds were trapped through bob wires and there was always food before them because the Martins didn't believe in keeping the birds short of corn. All the birds in the main racing loft were raced on the natural system. His stock birds were housed in a nice 16ft x 6ft loft with a flight and half this loft housed six pairs of widowhood pigeons. Molly cleaned and dressed the loft with lime every day and also changed the water twice a day. Molly Martin was a natural with pigeons, one of the best lady fanciers I have ever met! The birds were fed on a good sound mixture with extra maize being added just before Pau and Bergerac and they were given condition seed. Alec was the director in an engineering firm and had a fair bit of freedom for training, which he gave regularly at about 15 miles. He said he has given birds long training tosses, but they seem to perform better with lots of short training tosses. The stock birds were paired up on February 14th and the racers in March. About 60 youngsters were bred every year as Alec thought the more youngsters bred, the better his chance of breeding a champion. He said that two of the main factors in success with pigeons is: '100% dedication12 months a year and go for the strongest competition’. Alec wasn't eyesign minded and said if he thought it was important, he would study it and only keep one pair with the breeder's eyesign and a few feeders to rear all the winners. Molly was a great work force generally, managing and cleaning the birds and lofts. She clocked the first arrivals and paired up the race team. Alec maintained his most thrilling experience in the sport was in 1964, when he sent two birds for his first crack at the Pau National and recorded 160th open with very few homing locally on the winning day.

 

 

The Martins won the Surrey Federation twice inland in 1979; one was an old bird and the other a young bird. The old bird was a Fabry dark cheq cock called ‘Monty’ and he recorded 1st club, 1st Surrey Federation, 2,611 birds Exeter. The youngster, ‘Well Away’, a Janssen cross blue cock, won the very strong Godalming Club by a very large margin and recorded 1st club, 1st Surrey Federation, 2,153 birds Weymouth. Alec lived in a hot-bed of great fanciers and said he had respect for a lot of them. In the 1970s he thought Cyril Medway of Southampton was a great fancier, because of the size of the Medway team and the outstanding success he enjoyed. Alec liked the idea of the thing Louis Massarella was doing and said it's a good bet for the beginner to purchase birds from him because he offers good stock at fair prices. Alec said local small clubs should amalgamate, centralise their HQ, thus cutting expenses and providing better competition. Alec and Molly are no longer with us and were a brilliant pigeon racing team.

 

 

A smashing email from Bob Parkin.

Hi Keith,

My name is Bob Parkin and I’m a fancier now living Horndean in Hampshire. I was interested to see your piece in the BHW recently about Peter Notridge, which brought back so many happy memories for me when I was a novice fancier (aged 13) in 1962 flying in the old Hackbridge DHS and the Surrey Federation. At that time, it was not Peter I knew (although he must have been around) but his uncle Archie and his loft on the Mitcham Road in Hackbridge. It was Archie who really taught me how to really fly pigeons, how to care for them and the important factors when breeding. As usual in those days a youngster starting had gift birds from all and sundry. On the Estate where I lived there where lofts everywhere and all small affairs serving the back-garden fanciers that filled the clubs in those days. But going around those lofts as I did regularly, I saw some beautiful birds, so well cared for and flying the distance from very modest setups. Even all these years later I can remember every member of the Hackbridge Club, many of whom entrusted me to time their birds if they were working on Saturday race days. I soon learnt how to operate the Toulet puncher clock and the old printer clocks. I also used to cycle round to some members to tell them the liberation times because they never had telephones! Training was mainly via the Railway; Sutton Station was my nearest for the south road birds. But to compete with my pigeons Archie instilled in me the value of good birds, a family that could be relied upon to come up with the goods. He suggested going to an auction to buy a pair a of birds for me, so my Dad handed over £25 and week later Archie presented me with a pair of Vandeveldes, I can still see them now, stunning blue pencil cock and pied hen. I followed his advice to the letter, feeding, training, when to send, even how to break them to the loft. He was with me the day I nervously open the door, but all went fine. Needless to say, the very next young bird season I was collecting cards and won the ‘Novice Cup’ two years running. I still have one of those cards a copy of which I have attached, looking on the back in my schoolboy writing I have written ‘Vandie cock Notridge’.

 

 

I have, over the years, been in and out of the sport, for all the usual reasons of work responsibilities, family and moving home. I have retired now and although I have all the time I want, I only maintain a very small set up. A 6ft x 8ft loft with a box aviary, with all birds very natural, being kept and looked after in the way I was taught all those years ago. I have had racing lofts with the various compartments and a stock loft, all very interesting but not for me anymore. In fact, I am thinking now of leaving Federation  racing and joining a local Classic club, with just flying four or five races a year in mind, concentrate on preparing and sending six or so birds. I am not using ETS; as I agree entirely with your view, do fanciers really need to clock twenty plus birds in a short Federation race? If someone new came into the sport and was faced with that they are not going to stay long.

 

 

Can I just say Keith how much I enjoy all the YouTube videos of all the fanciers and their lofts. Would you be surprised to learn the ones I return to watch again and again are Des Coulter, Jed Jackson and Ron Wasey? This is how I like to remember, what I consider were the best days of pigeon racing. Sitting in the garden’s fanciers like Archie or any of those fanciers I recall from the past just enjoying the birds we admire so much. Keep up the good work Keith!

Regards - Bob Parkin.

 

That’s it for this week! Thanks to Bob Parkin for his smashing email, I enjoyed it very much. This time we have had four more great winning Surrey lofts from a few years ago. To view some old video footage of some of these fanciers and their birds go on to my YouTube channel and look at Video: 180. I can be contacted with any pigeon matters on telephone number: 01372 463480 or email me on: keithmott1@virginmedia.com

 

TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT (www.keithmott.com)

 

 

 

 

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