Steve Hallam of Mansfield
A short interview with Steve Hallam of Sutton in Ashfield Mansfield Nottinghamshire;
Steve Hallam - Center
(Q1) Steve when did you first get into pigeons?
Well I’ve probably bean around pigeons all my life, when I was a very young baby as my father Tommy Hallam aged only 19 and my mother Pauline only 17 gave birth to me and we were placed together in a lodging house where when I was a baby my mother would take me out a lot into the back garden to settle and have fresh air. The next door neighbour kept racing pigeons and we all would enjoy to watch them exercise flying round and I was told I used to enjoy listening to them and watching them especially, In time my parents had another two sons so in time, my parents, myself and my two younger brothers moved out of this lodging house and after watching the pigeons for some years moved away.
In time, Steve at the age of eight, was watching and playing football on a regular basis as his father Tony was an extreme football fanatic and his dream was for his three sons to play football professionally but for Steve one day at the age of eight this probably all ended as the open playing field where they all regularly played football, was a pigeon loft on a small piece of UK coal owned land, similar to an open plan allotment area.
By regularly playing on this field Steve would love watching the birds exercise around and swoop over the pitch. Steve would often go right up to the compound fencing to look closely at the lofts and birds and Steve remembers one day particularly that it started with his love of pigeons began as Steve, for one game of football, was playing in goal and was looking at the lofts and when the birds were out and flying over the pitch he could not resist a close look at them so he kicked the ball down the pitch as far as he could away from goal and ran down to the lofts leaving the goal unattended so the other team scored two goals. His team mates and most of all his father, who was watching, were furious and Steve remembers his father shouting you either want to play football or mess around with pigeons and his father belted his legs. This happened back in the day and from that day on Steve regularly visited the pigeons and became to know and talk to the owner of the birds and lofts who was locally known as being called Pim Driver. In time Steve’s other two friends Rob Brooks and older friend Eric May also took an interest in pigeons and Eric who was older and handy at building things built a small pigeon shed on some waste ground at the back of his family house (pit houses) the loft was made out of scrap wood and firewood that the three lads could find. In time Pim would give them strays and nuisance feral pigeons as where the lofts and playing fields were, close by to a large factory known as the CWS factory, and the out buildings and roofs were littered with feral and stray pigeons and occasionally when Pim let his birds out the odd one would come into his loft so he would always give them to Steve and his friends. In time Eric May, the older one, and his Brother formed the flying partnership of the May Brothers and joined the local club of Huthwaite HS but prior to this for a few years the lads bred and broke out birds and held their own private races where two would cycle with their chosen pigeon in their hand while one would see which came back first. The regular race point was the local parks outside public splash pool as Steve’s Dream was to fly the channel one day with his birds so himself and his friends would like to hold races from releasing the birds from one end of the pool making the birds fly over the pool making this the channel and thinking its experience for the birds as one day they could send them.
Once the May Brothers were fully registered and racing, Steve would always help out and be there on race days and the partnership lasted and raced for three seasons as by this time the May Brothers were in full time work and starting to have more commitments so the pigeons were packed up and Steve had to now take up playing football again but not for long as Steve’s father worked at the local coal mine that was dominated with working pigeon fanciers and Steve’s father worked alongside a pigeon fancier for years in the name of Nelson Evans, where Nelson would regularly talk about his pigeons and when a new work shift came into operation Nelson struggled to maintain his pigeons and all Nelson did would moan about this to Steve’s father so Steve’s father suggested my son Steve likes pigeons maybe he can help you so Nelson agreed. So after arranging a day Steve’s father took Steve to Nelson’s house and lofts to introduce them and left them to it and yes you guessed it Steve set back up again with pigeons on helping Nelson out with the pigeons. When Nelson was at the pit on a work shift as Steve was only still at School only still being young his birds were cleaned fed and let out. Nelson showed and taught Steve all the basics and some life-long tricks and knowledge with racing pigeons and in time with them both working together as a team Nelson came from being a regular mid-table club flier, he became up with the regular scoring fanciers in the club and Steve’s dream of flying that channel became true. Where some good channel performances came through, after several seasons of five years in racing together and Steve even having his own little young bird section at Nelsons lofts, Steve’s Father and Nelson had a heated debate at work and fell out with each other bitterly and this affected Steve’s relationship with Nelson, in some way and Steve’s father knowing how much his son loved racing pigeons wanted to do something about it so after he had heard that Pim Driver who had the pigeon lofts and land by the playing fields that really got Steve hooked on pigeons was moving house and giving the lofts up he visited Pim to try and purchase the lofts and rent the land off the coal board for Steve. Steve’s father successfully purchased Pim’s lofts and arranged the rent for the land, for Steve this was a dream come true. For Steve, having his own birds and lofts. Steve obtained a few birds from Nelson’s and Pim’s stock to create his family. Steve joined the local club in 1975, so after a season of racing on his own and now Steve a young working man he met his now present wife Janet for the first time, as young teenager, love takes over so in time Steve drifted away from the pigeons, as with his relationship and work gave up on full commitment to the pigeons and in time married Janet where they were living at her mums so Steve could not move or take the pigeons there so Steve gave the pigeons and lofts up. Steve and Janet applied for a local council house, where the council said this could be a 3 year wait but they applied anyway and to their luck and relief got accepted for one in just a few weeks so they quickly moved into their new family home. Steve always had pigeons on his mind but it was his wife that started him off again with pigeons as when she visited the local news agent shop to pay the newspaper bill for the week a copy of the racing pigeon magazine was on the front counter so Janet asked the shop keeper can I buy that for my husband to read please so she purchased the magazine to take back for Steve as soon as he started to read the magazine the pigeon obsession began again so on the house back garden he altered the back garden shed into a pigeon loft and purchased some birds out of the racing pigeon magazine from a advert section and also obtained some locally so in 1979 he was back racing again and joined the local club of Sutton Central FC, not knowing the club had voted to turn North Road from South Road in the 1979 season, his first season he flew the Grand Old North road route but his ambition, which is still present today, was to fly the channel but in Steve’s first real season with broken out south road flying pigeons achieved some good results on the grand old north road one including when joining the NRCC achieved a 3rd section 66th open from Perth 2,613 birds But Steve wanted to fly the channel so he joined Sutton Colliery FC which is still now his present club so he could fly south.
While now regularly flying at Sutton Colliery, Steve became close friends with fellow club member of Ray Lappage. He had a strong passion for distance channel racing like Steve and Steve would like to state that Ray was a kind true Gentleman so they became very close friends after a few seasons of Steve racing from his back garden one of the neighbouring houses did not like the pigeons and started to make Steve and Janet’s life a misery. This got Janet down so Steve decided one day when visiting Ray at his allotment lofts do you fancy teaming up together and fly as a partnership and I bring all my birds up here. Ray agreed instantly and the partnership of Lappage & Hallam began and lasted for 30 plus years with some fantastic performances achieved but unfortunately things changed over a few months with one day the allotment lofts being broken into and a lot of pigeons being stolen. This broke Ray & Steve’s heart but they had to carry on but shockingly this happened again just in a few months’ time, where they had sent what racers they had over the channel and as they went to the allotment to get things ready for their return most of the pigeons had be taken again including baskets and even pigeon corn so to prevent all this happening again after flying all them years on the allotments Ray and Steve moved the pigeons and the lofts back to Steve’s back garden, as the neighbouring property who complained, had moved out. Least they had piece of mind the birds were close to home. Ray now being an old man still daily attended the pigeons and Steve’s garden until he sadly passed away, hence now the current flying name of Steve Hallam for the last 6 years. Steve, Janet and his family still miss old Ray visiting the garden especially on race days.
The small race team set up
(Q2) Steve what is the strain and family of pigeons you presently Keep?
The pigeon families I keep have been obtained from Geoff Kirkland of the West Midlands directly of his Flourengles Willy Thas and his Daniel Aerean (long Distance family). Geoff has obtained directly, also I have direct Geoff and Catherine Cooper, near Bath, birds also The Patrick Brothers Distance birds where they now live in Belgium also I have some JPS Lofts of Ian Stafford and James Parker’s Jos Thones and a direct grandson bred from the famous Machine bird the stud had. Also I have some Padfields Invincible Jan Arden lines from Steve Wrights House of Arden Stud. These at my lofts are all blended in together to create my own family, bred around birds obtained from the above persons. I pair the pigeons to my preference in liking of mind and eye and experiment with breeding probably like most of the UK back garden fanciers. One thing that is important to myself is that when purchasing or obtaining stock and breeding from stock, the birds must have international, National or Classic Club winning in their breeding not just local Fed winners this is just my preference in what I want and create.
(Q3) Steve what system do you race your pigeons on?
I race my old birds on widowhood with widowhood cocks and widowhood hens. The widowhood cock team consists of 20 cocks and the hens section of 24 hens. The widowhood cock section holds 24 widowhood boxes but the 4 remaining boxes will always have flying out stock cocks in them and in the hens section having 24 widowhood hen boxes only 12 will be race hens the other boxes will be of 12 flying out stock hens at all times. There is a reason for this, I do this as there’s always that extra motivation and dominance with the atmosphere of the widowhood birds that don’t race and when the cocks or hens return and their regular partner is not back from the race yet there’s either a stock cock or hen to occupy their needs and motivation and are 100% familiar with the loft set up procedures and environment. Until their regular partners return
(Q4) Steve what system do you fly your young birds, are you one of these young specialist extremists that are now in operation?
My young birds are raced on the Darkness system and both sexes are left together to pair up and sit nest eggs and do as they please in the loft or just regularly fly back to a regular perch that takes their liking and receive some good steady educational training, though now I have recently just retired from work, I have considered separating both sexes and racing on the sliding door system for 2021 season but only having a small back garden set up I would be more limited to space and would have to race less young birds this way but quality is the key not quantity so we will have to see.
(Q5) Steve do you breed really early like in early December before the new year that seems to now be the in thing in the sport?
No I always pair the birds up on the valentines weekend this includes the stock birds as well. The stock birds will rear two nest young birds but the race team will only rear one nest young bird with me floating and moving the eggs around if the racers have scored from over the channel then I will let them rear their own youngster. If a race pair have not scored from over the channel then I won’t breed from them and a foster egg from a proven scoring race pair or from out the stock loft will be floated beneath them for them to rear only one youngster.
(Q6) Steve what do you feel out your many achievements has been your best achievements that stand out for you?
Well I’m happy with my 7 x Northern Classic Specialist Club open wins, this includes 6 x channel race wins and 1 x inland Penzance race win. One Northern Classic win that stands out for me as my bird was duplicated back into the Yorkshire Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire South Road combine which I also won that was from Poitiers 470 miles in 2019 which was an extremely hot humid day as I remember eating a ice cream in the garden when she dropped, doing a faster time than I ever expected. She won the Northern Classic race by 1 hour 35 minutes; she was a Geoff Kirkland X Geoff & Cath Cooper hen also on this same day I achieved 2nd & 5th open Northern Classic Specialist Club Poitiers. Also what stands out for me is 1st open North Midlands Continental Classic Club Kingstown YB Race and 1st open Midlands National Nantes 1992 as the cock that won this race was special and his legacy is still alive and present in my loft today with his grandchildren and great grandchildren. He was a red Cock bred by Clive Yates of Tamworth and his story is as follows; I really wanted to obtain some Geoff Kirkland birds to try and race, I contacted Geoff directly but he had none available for some time. I heard that Clive Yates of Tamworth had obtained some previously direct from Geoff so I contacted Clive and enquired on obtaining some Kirkland youngsters from him so luckily I obtained a kit of 6 youngsters from Clive, when they arrived at my house, by then still operating Amtrak, I opened the box to look at the birds and only 5 youngsters were in the box so I phoned Clive and he explained the sixth bird was just not quite ready to leave it’s parents it should be ready next week Clive said and if you come down to collect it I will give you it’s nest mate for free for your troubles so the following week Steve went to collect the youngsters. Clive gave Steve his 6th youngsters then it’s nest mate brother a little red young cock. Clive explained the two youngsters were Kirkland X a Scottish Van Bruien cock, Steve not having any Red pigeons or much success with coloured birds snubbed slightly this young red pigeon but Clive said try it Steve it has not cost you anything it’s worth a try you have nothing to lose and Steve just did that it was the best thing he had ever done in pigeons was take that little red youngster home. He won Steve over £2,000 in prize money in the Midlands National Nantes race and the at the time big mighty Derbyshire South Road Federation plus many, many other Federation and channel wins. He is also the grand sire to Steve’s Northern Classic Specialist Club winner from Saintes 511 miles being the only day bird being timed in The Northern Classic Specialist Club and also he is the grandsire to Steve’s first open Northern Classic Specialist Club 2016 Poitiers winner, the sister to this red cock that Clive bred Steve was the mother to Steve’s Northern Classic Specialist Club Penzance winner plus breeder of many other prize winners inside the loft.
1st open NCFC Falaise 2020 1st open NCFC YND combine Poitiers 2019
1st open NCFC YND combine Falaise 2018 1st open NCFC Saintes (only bird on the day) 2014
1st open NCFC Saintes 2009
(Q7) Steve what does your feeding consist of?
My feeding, I mix my own corn consisting of 3 main brands in winter all my birds are fed the Gem Premier Mix, mixed with the Countrywide Number 2 mix with some Tic Beans and clean Barley added with just a touch of Van Robeys Moulting mix added as I like the small seeds in this mix and so do the birds. Breeding season, the birds are fed on the Gem Breeding mix if it’s available at the corn shop, if not then Gem Premier mix where this will be mixed with Countywide Ponderosa Breeding mix. I will apply Tic Beans to this which I feel are a major part of proteins and aide young bird growth. The birds will receive also pick stones and power minerals which is also a high importance, I especially prefer the pink powder minerals. Racing season, the race team is fed on two main brands of Vanrobeys Super Special and the Beaudeaux mix containing red maize at channel racing Vanrobeys top Energy mix is also applied with just a Sunday and Monday feed on a depurative mix with a breed and wean mix applied into at 50% to help rebuild their muscles and proteins after the Saturday race return then the two other mixes are applied on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, they are fed the above. Saturday they are fed just a straight depurative feed with added Brewers Yeast powder on race day return the Young birds are fed on a basic Breed & Wean mix for the first month they have been parted from their parents after this they are fed on the Gem Premier mix with clean barley and Countrywide number 2 mix applied. When racing they will be fed the Vanrobey’s Super Special mix and the end of the week the Beaudeaux mix with added depurative and a sprinkle of Top Energy mix added when flying the coast line and channel points. Moulting feed the birds will receive a mix of Gem Premier mixed with Countrywide number 2 mix with Tic Beans and clean Barley and Vanrobeys moulting mix all blended together.
(Q8) Steve what do you think we as pigeon fanciers can do to save the sport?
I believe all these so many small individual federations and clubs all in one area should all work together and be together on pigeon transportation and fly together but if required keep your individual results but at least all be released together and not to refuse pigeon fanciers to race their birds in organisations as pigeon fanciers are now becoming scarce unfortunately.
(Q9) Steve what regular products do you apply to the birds drinking water?
On Saturday race return, the first drink they receive is eloctrolites, on the same day after feeding the eloctrolites are removed and Natural line Herbal Tea is applied. Sunday will be Natural Tea all day and the rest of the week is just fresh tap water applied during the winter period they just receive Natural Tea over the weekend period with a Canker treatment applied to the birds at the beginning of the season with a multi vitamin applied after the canker treatment or if the young birds contract young bird sickness after their treatment of this they will receive a multi vitamin supplement also.
(Q10) Steve any preparation tricks you like to use when preparing for the channel?
Well believe this or not, before they are marked for their channel race on the same day I let the widowhood cocks out to fly for 30 minutes then I let the hens out, leaving them to fly and do as they please around the skies and garden and house roof tops, locking them out of the loft for 2 hours. I then enjoy having a cup of tea watching them from out my bed room window going crazy around the local neighbourhood. After the 2 hours I open the loft doors and within seconds they all pile into the section and their boxes, I then leave them for another 2 hours inside the loft and their boxes after this exercise and time frame I will then basket the birds for channel race marking. For the further 500 mile races on the race day I will extend and start this activity earlier and last longer and apply fresh barley straw on the loft floor allowing them to all build nests.
Some ending comments Steve races weekly in the Central Derbyshire South Road Federation and his local club the Sutton Colliery FC plus he really enjoys competing in the large Yorkshire Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire South Road combine in which his local club and federation are members of and to the Northern Classic Specialist Club. Steve is a local small back garden set up establishment that has achieved some great performances and regular club and federation wins and high positions I feel as though most clubs require a fancier like Steve that sends his birds every week and supports all events his organisations operate being a younger fancier. One thing I have noticed Steve’s constant achievements and is some fanciers that hardly send and race their pigeons and when they do they achieve nothing in their performances but are always at the meetings causing hold ups on the 21st century progress to help aide the sport and move with the times and create competition to better things. I feel pigeon racing politics are worse than the House of Commons and achieve nothing and is very sad when we should all be working together.
I would like to thank Steve for taking part in this article and I hope you enjoyed reading something true that is not in the aim of making money of selling anything in our sport. Steve would like to thank the following people that have now sadly passed away of Nelson Evans, Arthur Toon, Fredrick Webster and Ray Lappage, and now present Geoff and Barbara Kirkland for the top quality of birds supplied over the years and to put the icing on the cake Geoff and Catherine Cooper what fantastic pigeons and to my dear wife Janet for putting up with me and my pigeons and to my best friends Andrew and Siobhan Kemp and Russ and April Townsend, top people and friends for life God Bless you all.
The Rat Man