Lancashire Social Circle
The third and final old bird race for the Lancashire Social Circle was from yet another new race point for Circle members well off the line of flight at Truro. The race was always going to have its problems with the UK suffering from record temperatures no cloud cover and north east wind which has a tendency to bring mist. It would seem one thing that came out of the liberation from Truro was a great number of fanciers in Ireland had a number of good pigeons enter their lofts from this liberation. I know of two Circle members with birds reported in Ireland and a string of other fanciers from the same liberation. The other big problem with this race point is the mapping, there is no way pigeons will fly in a straight line across the Bristol channel and over the mountains of Wales and up into Lancashire. So, when members are mapped at say 250 miles in reality, they were flying over 300 miles, this made it a little difficult to estimate the arrival time. But difficulties are there to overcome and many brave racers did just this. The heat of the day was going to make it a hard race and many thought, only added to the problems but everyone I spoke to that clocked their birds in, were amazed how well the pigeons were on their return. I thought they would make for the drinkers and drink them dry but this seemed not to be the case, with everyone saying how good a condition they were in, so all credit to the transporters.
The birds were up and away early to avoid the heat at 06 00 into a light north east wind alongside the Three Counties Combine pigeons, it was hoped the weight of pigeons would help. The winner of the Circle race was John Winstanley from Orrell who timed a 2y old cheq hen at 12 minutes past twelve doing 1206. She was sent with full confidence having been his second in the clock from the Circle's first race from Yelverton and had a good line from that part of the country. A proven racer being a previous winner of 1st Warrington Two Bird Club as a young Bird. This last season John tried a few pairs on the natural system but the results have not been worth the effort and will not continued this next season, having said that this hen is one of the natural pigeons sitting on her first baby ever. On my last visit to John's set up last season I was very impressed with a cheq hen in the stock loft that came from Albert Tarleton so was not surprised when he told me she was bred down from one of this line. The sire is a son of "Hercules" from Curtis Wall & Lunt when paired to the Albert Tarlton hen who has bred the ace bird in the section of the Midland National. Her sister is a winner of 1st & 2nd Wigan Two Bird Club in 2021, while another sister won 1st Guernsey this year. The dam is a blue cheq with a string of top prizes including 2nd North Ashton Continental Club Yearling Race beaten by loft-mate. This ace producing hen is from a Moleveld cock when paired to a red hen bred by Albert Tarlton. John has been so disappointed this season with no channel racing and is not very happy with the race points down the leg of the country which the NFC have chosen that don't give members in his part of the country a chance. With no channel racing the feeding has been changed to a lighter mix with little or no fats added come the end of the week, with this change of feeding the cocks have out flown the hens which in a normal racing season the hens would perform better. At the time of my visit, he and Geoff Sandland John's right hand man were waiting for the youngster to return from a training toss that should have been there some time earlier. These did arrive some time later and seemed to have picked up with another batch of YBs many of which they brought back with them. This was the first training toss the youngsters had, had for several days as he had experienced a bad toss a few days earlier with several birds injured and a number reported as far away as Stoke. A dozen or so of these were in a section of their own recovering, and once the YB team were home these were released to observe, with 4 taking to the skies. The reason for keeping them separated, is should they be in with the rest of the race team they would only bring them down while out at exercise. This patience shown by John and Geoff paid dividends this last season when three youngsters got injured while in training only managed to have one race, but this season all three of them two cocks and a hen have won for him proving patience dose pay off. John's winning hen also paid him well by winning the J S Kearns Trophy, for winning the race and a Frank H Parsonage Award to go with it along with Cotswold Trophy for Best Ave 2nd & 3rd Races, the Reliance Trophy Best Ave 1st & 3rd races and the Arthur H Todd Trophy for winning the OB Ave. As can be seen from a couple of results mentioned earlier the loft is in top form and the same weekend of the Circle race the loft won 1st & 2nd Guernsey with his club.
Jeff Churchill from Chester was second who timed a 5y old Soontjen cheq cock that has been more than consistant over the years having a string of prizes to his name on 1160. Jeff was runner-up for the Reliance Trophy. The breeding of this magnificent pigeon is Soontjen with the parents coming from Frank Sheader from Scarborough North Yorkshire when Jeff along with George Pulford made a visit to Frank’s some years ago to purchase some stock pigeons. Following the success of these first introductions Jeff went back two or three years later and bought some youngsters. It's from these and the original stock pigeons the foundations of the family has emerged. Jeff has a very close relationship with some old workmates and every year the group of them go on holiday together in mid March so the pigeons are paired up in order to have big youngsters in the nest that don't need ringing, just given food and water. This makes the job of looking after them so much easier for his brother (who by the way has no interest in the pigeons.) Jeff's Farther kept racing pigeons and this is where he got his love of our feathered friends. Many years ago, he built a small loft at home some 15 miles from his parent’s house and intended to keep them there. But the next-door neighbour prevented them from dropping by waving flags and throwing football in the air. This situation escalated still further when Jeff's children who were at school at the time alongside the neighbour’s children and the abuse got to a point, he was about to pack it all in. His mother came to the rescue and she said she would help by keeping the pigeons at her house in his dads’ old loft and help look after them. Hence the reason for the 15-mile trip every day to look after the birds. This worked well for a good number of seasons until his mothers’ sad demise a couple of years back. The pigeons are still housed there in a small loft with two sections trapping is by use of a let board and bob wires. Because of the distance from home to the loft the pigeons are kept on a completely natural system in the old loft which has two sections one for old birds with the other for the youngsters, the two sections help in the winter when the birds are separated. The 16 pairs of racers are left to get on with it when it comes to pairing with each pair making their own chose of mate and left to get on with it. The birds are only fed once per day around lunch time and fed on Bamfords mixtures from the local corn merchant a couple of miles away. Racing totally naturally with both OBs and YB's with no darkness practiced with the youngsters means once rearing has finished the birds sit pot eggs and, in some cases, might be races to a small youngster. This last season while flying with the Mid Cheshire Fed he is around 15 miles west of what might be called the main drag, the pigeons have performed really well only being out of the first 4 in the last 9 weeks. On the same day as the Circle race, he took 2nd Mangotsfield with his club so another good weekend all round. Jeff is the hard-working secretary of Beeston Castle Two Bird Club and the annual prize presentation is very much down to him and anyone who has been along to one of these will testify are a great function.
Peter Latham from Middlewich collects the third place with a yearling blue pied cock doing 1131. Peter tells me the pigeons have been flying OK but could have done a little better so he split them for two or three weeks. When he re-paired them, this yearling cock had lost his hen so was racing odd. Peter then like a lot more fanciers all over the country experienced a number of loses on the bad weekend of the 19th June when a couple of cocks were lost. The yearling cock took advantage of this and found himself a new mate and was sent to this race sitting 3-day eggs. Peter would have liked to have seen him sitting a little longer but with his new found love seemed to have made the difference. He is a first cross of Lambrecht x Vandenabeele and this is his best position to date although he has been steady in a number of races both as a young bird and a yearling. The loft is cited in the large back garden with around 20 pairs of racers kept and raced on a natural type of system, the loft contains 16 nest boxes in one section with 32 large box perches in the next section with the door between the two compartments left open and the birds use both. The strange thing is that quite a few pairs have used the deep litter to nest, which is granulated cat litter, in preference to the nest boxes. Peter retired from work a little earlier this year and I understand has set about a number of jobs in the house which might be one of the reasons he has not put the time into the birds?
George Pulford is fourth timing a blue cock that was his Breeders Exchange bird from last season from Ray Bullen on 1126. This has been a most consistant bird for George and helps strengthen the bond between members as was shown in the Circle's last race from Yeovil when Ray Bullen took top honours with his blue w/f cock, the dam of which came from Graham Mackay in 2015. She is a blue Hereman-Ceuster hen that has been an excellent racer winning amongst other things a YB Classic race and 1st & 2nd Fed plus topping the Combine and has bred numerous winners. I have no details of the breeding of George's pigeon but if it is anything like the above you are in for a few more prizes George.
George celebrated his 86th birthday a couple of days following this great result and following the loss of his wife Margaret a short time ago will I am sure give him a boost. George was born in Christleton but moved to Hargrave at the age of seven when his father became too ill to look after the cattle. This was where his first contact with pigeons came about when he met Bob Lloyd,( Bob was much later in life to become a member of the Circle and for a short time became its President.) Bob lived just across the field and they both shared a mutual love of all wildlife, particularly pigeons. They use to take turns at training the birds on their bicycles. The only local club in those days was Tattersall, four miles away, with Chester being some six miles distant. The only time George has been without pigeons was when he did his National Service in the Far East, taking them up again immediately upon his return. He first attended the Circle in the mid seventies as a guest of the late Roy Mundy and was proposed for membership by Les Kilshaw in 1986. Over the years George has done a great deal for the sport in many areas, he was a founder member of Beeston Castle Two Bird Club and has been its President I believe on two occasions and has a great passion to see it prosper in the future with his very close friend Jeff Churchill as Secretary. Several years ago George was a prominent auctioneer running auctions for many Cheshire fanciers. A small team fancier who only races widowhood cocks, he shows the hens to the cocks in the early races but tends not to show them when the races get a little longer as he believes the bird are much calmer and rest better in the basket and he also feels it stops them fighting on their way to the marking and in the panniers. When it comes to medication George follows a lifetime belief within the sport and only treats as and when necessary. One thing that is evident is there are several kinds of grit, pickstones and minerals before the birds at all times which George feels the birds need, and helps to keep them out of the fields when the birds are rearing.
Bob Smith John Dearden Roger Sutton
Bob Smith is fifth clocking a blue widow hen on 1086, Bob has had a good season once again with the Circle and finishes runner-up the John Winstanley for the OB average winning the Dr William Anderson Trophy. Followed in sixth place by John Dearden who timed a 5y old cheq cock on 1083. Once again John has had a good season with the Circle timing a good pigeon in from every race and has been just a few yards behind the winners for several of the trophies. I can't finish this article without mentioning Roger Sutton who was the only member to time in both his entries, two yearling hens. Roger must be one of the best fanciers in Cheshire having many top places in the NFC and North West Classic Club as well as being a past winner of Bamfords Gold Ring Race. Roger keeps around 20 yearling hens with the young birds to help teach them the ropes that are on open hole from 10 00am to 4 00pm. These yearling hens compete in a normal racing season in the National and Classic races from over the channel.
It's been nice to see Honorary Life Vice President George Hilson at the last two race markings who has kindly helped with the T3 clocks that a couple of our members still use.
Brian Dearn Tel. 01254 772515.