“ON THE ROAD” WITH KEITH MOTT.
LOOKING BACK OVER THE YEARS (PART 3.)
Ron & Brenda Wasey of New Addington.
Ron Wasey is without a doubt one of the best pigeon fanciers I’ve met, winning many premier positions in Combine, Classic and National over many years. At the time of writing this article he had only sent to Pau four times in his pigeon career, the first time winning 1st open NFC Pau Grand National, the second time winning 4th open NFC Pau, the third time he didn’t clock in and the fourth time in the 2002 season, when he chalked up 1st open London & South East Classic Club from Pau. Brilliant pigeon racing!
Ron is a retired teacher and raced with outstanding success for many years with his wife, Brenda, but after leaving the sport for several years, has returned in recent seasons flying in partnership with Terry Lloyd. The 1981 NFC Pau ‘King’s Cup’ race had a record entry of over 6,000 birds and Ron won the race with his wonderful blue hen, champion ‘Nightlight Nancy’, who incidentally passed away at 22 years of age. This was his first attempt at Pau, 553 miles and the hen was sent sitting on 14 day old eggs, being liberated at 06.00hrs, and was clocked at 18.45hrs on the day. Previous to winning the Pau national, ‘Nancy’, who was bred from birds obtained from H. J. Humphrey of Tottenham and Roy Drake of Catford, won several premier positions including: 1980: 2nd club, 2nd Federation, 5th open Combine Dax. Ron always geared the whole loft to be sitting about 12 day old eggs for the Pau National and this proved to be most successful.
Ron began the 1982 season with the impossible task of following and living up to the fantastic seasons that had gone before. His brilliant performances had put Ronnie in the top handful of elite fanciers in Great Britain. Highlights of seasons previous to 1982 were: 1979: 3rd section E, 4th open NFC Guernsey, 1st, 2nd and 3rd open Croydon Federation Dax, 530 miles, only two birds on the day of liberation in the Federation, 1981: 1st open NFC Pau, winning the ‘King’s Cup’ and RPRA London Region Award, 3rd open London & South Coast Combine Dax, the same day as winning the NFC Pau Grand National. The loft had recorded many other 1st Federations wins in these years, both inland and from France.
The Wasey’s started the 1982 season by winning 1st club, 2nd open Croydon Federation, 2nd open London & South Coast Combine La Mans, with their good Hopwood mealy hen cock, ’Daphne’s Delight’, then went on to win the supreme trophy in the National Flying Club, ‘The Langstone Gold Cup’, for best average in the three National races. Ron’s National season started at Nantes and his first bird on the clock to record 27th section E, 68th open (12,444 birds) was his good Dordin mealy cock, ‘Elain’s Eric’, which was inbred to Ron’s champion stock hen, ‘The Hopwood Hen’. ‘Elain’s Eric’ was also second bird on the Pau national clock that season to record 87th section E, 460th open Pau. Previously as a young bird he had won in 1980: 1st club, 1st Federation Blandford, 1st club, 3rd Federation Blandford, 1st club, 4th Federation Exeter and 1st club, 21st Federation Blandford. A fantastic pigeon! Then came the Pau Grand National and many fanciers rated Ron’s performance as even better than when he won 1st open in 1981, as the weather and wind did not favour his birds. In the 1982 event, he clocked his great hen, ‘Landymores’s Lulu’, to record 1st section E, 4th open NFC Pau. This great hen won the ‘F.G. Wilson Trophy’ for best average by the same pigeon at Nantes and Pau nationals in the 1982season. ‘Lulu’ was a full sister to champion ‘Nightlight Nancy’, the 1981 Pau national winner and ‘Lulu’ had previously won many premier prizes including: 1st club, 7th Federation Blandford, 3rd club, 3rd Federation, 6th London & South Coast Combine Dax (beaten by two loft mates), 2nd club, 7th Federation, 10th Combine Tours and also in 1982: 101st section E, 281st open NFC Nantes. The last race of the NFC programme in 1982 was the young bird Guernsey National and Ron was 36th section E, 74th open with his Hetru / Dordin cock ,’Cornelius’, thus securing ‘The Langstone Gold Cup’. This game cock only had two races as a youngster winning 3rd club Wadebridge, 74th open NFC Guernsey and was a grandson of Bolitho brother’s ‘Crackerjack’. The only black spot on Ron’s 1982 pigeon year was the death of his champion Dordin stock hen, ‘The Hopwood Hen’. She must rate as one of the top breeding Dordins in the world, being dam of most of the Mr. & Mrs. Wasey loft at that time. She was bred by Ron’s good friends in Yorkshire, John and Daphne Hopwood, from the Jim Biss Dordins, down from ‘Spahi’, ‘Romulus’ and ‘Scout’. ‘The Hopwood Hen’ was a true champion breeding hen, producing amongst others, 4th open NFC Guernsey, 70th open NFC Pau, 68th open NFC Nantes, 1st Croydon Federation Guernsey and 1st Croydon Federation Blandford.
In the seasons after ‘Nightlight Nancy’ won the Pau National, she bred many outstanding racers in combine and national events. ‘Nancy’ and ‘Lulu’ had an outstanding blue pied brother called ‘Sole Survivor’ and he won 1st club, 1st Federation, 4th Combine (4,007 birds) Nantes, 1st club, 1st Federation, 4th Combine (7,501 birds) Le Mans and 1st club, 2nd Federation, 9th Combine (6,490 birds) Tours. Ron says he had several good winners the same way bred to his National winner and a blue, full sister he gifted to John Barratt, won 1st London Federation (by 20 minutes) and 3rd London Federation in races from France. The 2002 season saw Wasey & Lloyd win the very hard Pau race, in the London & South East Classic Club, with their good blue pied cock, ‘Bambi’. At that time this was a great thrill for my wife, Betty, and my self, as Ronnie had been a good family friend of ours for about 25 years and he was a brilliant pigeon fancier and a true gentleman. Ron said his champion cock had always been called ‘Bambi’ since he was a young bird in 2000, because he was a small pigeon, but has a big heart! He was bred off Peter Titmus bloodlines and was sent to the Pau classic sitting 14 day old eggs. On handling him the day of clocking, I noticed he was casting his second flight. Ron drove many miles to purchase these Peter Titmus stock birds and paid over £200 for them at the late Colin Brough dispersal sale. This game little pigeon flew only Guernsey as a young bid and took 15 days to come home from the Perth classic in the 2001 season. His build up to his Pau classic win in 2002 was lots of training tosses off the south coast and two races from La Ferte Bernard and Tours with the London & South East Classic Club.
Like Ron, Terry Lloyd is an ex-Battersea boy and had been friends since their mid-teens. Terry had a very successful small building firm, but had cut down his workload at that time, because of some health problems. He loved horse racing and regularly attended meetings at Kempton Park, Epsom, Sandown Park and Ascot. Terry did not take an active part with the pigeons, but loved watching them dive in with wings folded like darts, as they raced in. Ronnie said it was only because of Terry’s financial backing that he was able to race, as he paid half the cost of everything including the petrol for training. He took an avid interest in the breeding side of the pigeons and often spent a few hours during the close season discussing the breeding plans for the following year.
Ron raced his birds only the natural system and they were paired up in mid-March, with the long distance National and Classic races in mind. He was a great believer in working the racers hard and they got a lot of training off the south coast, on their build up to the main events, and fed ‘Irish’ mixture, obtained from our late friend, Wally Dann of Cobham. The main families kept were Eric Cannon, Brian Denney, Tom Gilbertson and the highly successful Peter Titmus pigeons. The main racing loft had grilled floors, drop hole trapping and it’s biggest feature was Ron’s closed in nest boxes, which he liked, to give the inmates peace and quiet. He always told me, that he had not special type of pigeon he liked best, he was only interested in good winning long distance pigeons, no matter what they looked like. The massive stock loft and flight housed only a few selective pairs, mostly of the Eric Cannon lines. He had a team of about 30 young birds each year and these were raced on the natural system, to the perch. The youngsters were not let out of the loft until their eyes had changed colour and they had dropped flights, but were put out on top of the loft in a wire cage every day from weaning. Ron maintained he had used this method with his youngsters many years and had very few losses. He had no Saturday Federation club at that time and gave his birds Guernsey racing, with the old East Grinstead Continental R.P.C., on their build up to the main National and Classic events. There you have it, Ronnie Wasey, one of the best long distance fanciers I ever met.
Peter Notridge of West Croydon.
I think you would have to go a long time before you would find a better all round and more respected pigeon fancier than Peter Notridge. He loves to win the short ones as much as the long 'uns and has topped the Federation and Combine from the shortest and the longest. He says over the years he has held nearly every job in pigeon racing, from convoyer to auctioneer. Up to that year, when one of his Combine winners died, you could have the rare experience of seeing two SMT Combine winners perched under one roof at the Notridge loft. At that time, Peter was one of only a very few fanciers who have won the SMT Combine twice since it was formed in 1968. Peter's two wins were recorded from Niort in 1968 and from Nantes in 1971. The 1979 season was another good one for the Notridge pigeons, the highlight of which was from the Nantes National when he recorded 1st clock station, 3rd section E, 4th open (10,367 birds). Peter's record flying the SMT Combine at that time was second to none winning 1st Combine Niort, 1st Combine Nantes, 3rd Combine Laval, 4th Combine Niort, 4th Combine Bergerac, 5th Combine Laval, 6th Combine Le Mans, 6th Combine Nantes, 9th Combine Rennes, and 9th Combine Angers. The Notridge loft had won the Surrey Federation many times and the Croydon Federation twice, with 1974 being his best year at club level, winning ten times 1st club in two clubs.
Peter had two self-built lofts at Croydon, a racing loft 12ft x 9ft and a stock loft 6ft x 5ft. Peter's son, Mark, raced in his own right with some really first class performances put up in his first two seasons, with birds from his dad, flying to his 8ft loft which is built on to Peter's stock loft. The 20 racing pairs were trapped through open doors and deep litter was used in both lofts. The race team was flown on the natural system and were fed on a good mixture of beans, peas and maize when racing and beans, peas, and wheat when resting in the winter. Peter says the natural system is the best way to get the best out of all your birds at all distances. He doesn't like sending birds racing week after week and maintains that to compete you must have two teams, one for Channel and one for inland. He said that there is no such thing as a short or long distance pigeon; it's all down to how you manage and train them. The birds are only trained lightly because they are given an open loft for most of the day during the summer. Peter was a training instructor in slating and tiling and he took the birds to work with him, in any direction, for training. No training is given before the first race as Peter uses the race as a guide to how much training the team needs. Youngsters are, given lots of short tosses, then about four races after which Peter says they are set up for life. Peter had his own family of pigeons bred down from his old ‘Budgie Cock’ and these were backed up with his family of Roosebroeck pigeons obtained from Louis Govaerts of Luton. The Roosebroeck pigeons have been highly successful for many top fanciers and the strain was imported into this country by Louis Govaerts from Belgium, his homeland. The Roosebroecks were ‘ace’ on widowhood in the sprint races, but Peter had scored from as far away as Pau with them. The birds were paired up in mid-March and a good bird was purchased and crossed into the family every year. Peter had also purchased and bred with success birds from P. J. Thomas, J. L. Roberts and W. Price. A hen from Louis Govaerts bred Peter's dark chequer cock 'The Violet Eyed Cock' which had won many positions in the first ten prizes including, 1st Woodside Open Guernsey, 1st club, 1st Federation Exmouth, 1st club, 5th Federation Seaton, 2nd club, 2nd Federation Exeter, 3rd club, 7th Federation Blandford, 3rd club Exmouth (twice), 3rd section, 20th open NFC Guernsey and lost three more races through bad trapping. This great pigeon was put in the stock loft and up to his fourth season he was clocked from every race entered.
Peter's dark chequer hen 'Canterbury Belle', the Niort Combine winner died of old age in 1979 and she was a treat in the hand, of medium size with an apple body. Three weeks after winning the Combine she was sent to Bergerac to return home with a damaged wing. Peter said he had no idea how she got home with the damaged wing but she was clocked and recorded 10th club. After this race she was retired to stock and bred many winners. 'Canterbury Belle' bred two hens '62812' and '62813' in one nest and the Notridge’s called them 'The Twins'. '62812' has to her credit 1st club, 3rd Federation, 4th Combine Niort and 1st club, 2nd Federation, 9th Combine Rennes. '62813' won 1st club, 4th Federation, 4th Combine Bergerac and is the dam of grizzle cock 'Canterbury Silver Mist', the Nantes Combine winner. 'Silver Mist' was a wonderful pigeon in the hand and his full performance was 1st Club, 1st Federation, 1st Combine Nantes, 2nd club Avranches, 4th club Rennes, 3rd club Nantes, 2nd club Bergerac, 3rd club Blandford, 7th club Blandford, 4th club Weymouth, 5th club Dorchester, flying the English Channel 19 times. After a long and very full racing career he was put to stock and bred winners. A great pigeon! Another outstanding racer, retired in the stock loft, was the 1970 bred blue chequer hen 'The Federation Hen' winner of 1st club, 1st Federation Exeter, 1st club, 9th Federation Exmouth, 2nd club, 4th Federation Blandford, 2nd club, 6th Federation Dorchester, 2nd club Blandford, 4th club, 6th Federation Blandford, 3rd club, 7th Federation Exmouth. Another good hen to die of old age was the dark Roosebroeck hen bred by Louis Govaerts, and she was the dam of 28 different winners when paired to five different cocks. One of Peter's best sprint birds 'The Black Cock' was a son of her when paired to the Roosebroeck stock cock 'Louis'. The star of the 1979 season was the handsome blue pied cock 'Chucky' and his full performance is: 1979: 1st clock station, 3rd section E, 4th open Nantes NFC, previously winning 1st club, 5th Federation Exmouth, 1st club Exeter, plus other premier positions. This cock was Peter's ideal type of pigeon and had a wonderful eye, as well as good looks. His sire was Peter's good Van der Espt stock cock, 'The French Cock', when paired to a Govaerts hen, closely related to 'The Federation Hen' and 'Archie's Hen', another good Channel winner for the Notridge loft.
Pete first kept pigeons when he was 12 years old but spent most of his time in his uncle's loft in Hackbridge where he learnt how to race. He joined the West Croydon club which was North Road in 1952 and he won his first race from Berwick at the age of 15. After demob from National Service, Peter didn't have much time for pigeons as he was very keen on athletics and football. He met and married his wife Ann and they moved into their Croydon house where he restarted the pigeons in 1963, racing South Road in the Croydon H.S. In 1963 he bred the founder bird of his then present day family, a dark pied cock, 'The Budgie Cock'. 'Budgie' won 1st club Bournemouth, 1st club Exmouth, 1st club Tours and was put to stock because of his bad trapping. Putting him to stock was a good move on Peter's part as he was sire of 'Canterbury Belle' and countless other winners.
Peter had four years as West Croydon H.S. secretary at different times and was the club's chairman and was a vice president of the Surrey Federation. Peter had very clear cut ideas on what he thinks was wrong with the sport and was always ready to give a productive opinion. He was very much against pigeon breeding stud farms and said they were taking the cost of stock up above the economy of the working man. Novices and beginners should never buy from these places, he said, but from good consistent local fanciers. Pete was interested in eyesign and said all his winners had good eyesign. He was always busy in the winter judging shows, including eyesign classes and when judging eyesign he based his judgement on the eyes of his own pigeons.
A pigeon very highly rated by Peter was his Roosebroeck blue chequer white flight cock 'The Fighter', and he said as long as there is daylight this cock would fly. His performances over the Channel were incredible flying 16 hours many times, winning 1st club Niort, 1st club Angers, 4th club Bergerac (twice), plus several other top prizes from France. This cock was below medium in the hand and was always flying on exercise when the others have dropped. He had wonderful feathering and nice deep wings. Peter called him 'The Fighter' because of his outstanding courage. There you have it! Peter is still racing pigeons very successfully in the Croydon area and was the President of the Surrey Federation.
TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT (www.keithmott.com)