“ON THE ROAD” WITH KEITH MOTT.
Jed and Joan Jackson of Worthing.
Unless you have recently joined the ranks of the pigeon fraternity it would be highly probable you would have heard of the late, great Jed Jackson of Worthing. Renowned for his truly wonderful articles he has composed over many years, giving immense pleasure to his army of readers. The blind man who won the Pau Grand National with his champion hen “Genista” in 1980. The man who flew an outstanding pigeon on the North Route before and after his great National win. He also clocked on the day out of Tarbes with the National Flying Club in 2005. The man who enthralled the people listening to his after dinner speeches at the countless functions he and his good lady wife Joan, were invited to. Invitations given out of respect and adulation for this great man.
There was another side to this wonderful gentleman that only his close friends were aware of. His incredible strength. Even though he had reached his 90th birthday, most days he still ran up and down his garden path using the handrail as his guide. He finished these exercise’s by running up and down the four steps leading up to his garage using the handrails on either side to maintain his balance. A friend of mine told me that on a visit to Jed’s he saw him kneeling down on a freshly dug piece of ground appearing to be searching for something. When he enquired what Jed was looking for, his reply “I am just planting out my early potatoes”. Upon closer observation my friend said he could make out Jed had a stick measuring about 9ins, long which he was using as a spacer and a long piece of string stretched between two pegs to keep a straight line for his potatoes. What amazing determination. He had over the years given hope and strength to people who were going blind and naturally were extremely worried about their future. One such case was that of Mickey Moore of Swanley. After a visit to Jed’s he came away feeling confident enough to carry on with his pigeons, so much so, he went on to represent his club at regional level. It’s no small wonder that he had a huge army of fans.
I can not continue this article without mentioning the tremendous support given to Jed by his wonderful wife Joan. She will be in her 90’s now and still attends a fitness club on a weekly basis. A marvelous hostess, a great conversationist and a brilliant cook, a fact that any visitor would endorse.
When I look back over the many years of wonderful performances put up by National winners from Pau, Jed and Joan Jackson’s win 1980 must rate as one of the most remarkable. The race was hard enough to win by a sighted person, but for a blind fancier to win, it was fantastic. Although the great Jed Jackson is famous for being ‘the blind man who won the Pau National’, his great racing performances go much further back than that, as he’s won cups and averages in the Club and Federation for many years. His wonderful wife, Joan, was a great worker for his pigeons, doing bookwork, training and general loft management with Jed. I have been in the Jackson’s garden on race day and its brilliant watching Jed clocking in his own pigeons. Once the bird had trapped, Joan called out the nest box number that the racer had entered and Jed went straight to it and clocked in, with no time wasted.
Jed’s Pau National winner was his natural blue chequer hen, Champion ‘Genista’. She was bred in 1978 from a blue cock obtained from John Langstone of the West Midlands and the National at her first time at Pau, with 5,884 birds competing. John Langstone was a great fancier, winning 1st open N.F.C. Pau and 1st open N.F.C. Nantes, and presented the famous, ’Langstone Gold Cup’, to the National Flying Club. The sire of ‘Genista’ was a blue chequer down from Jed’s old long distance family. Champion ‘Genista’ died in 1982, being buried under the Genista tree next to the loft and Jed maintains that she died from the effort of winning the Pau National for him. A wonderful pigeon! Many present day winners are bred down from her including Jed’s good blue hen, which spent most of her time on his shoulder, talking in his ear, as ‘Genista’ used to. She was a granddaughter of the Pau National winner. This loverly blue hen arrived home from Thurso (550 miles) at 07.00hrs, landed on Jed’s shoulder and he clocked her to win the race. Jed races both North and South Road, with the same pigeons and an interesting fact is that ‘Genista’ flew Berwick five weeks before she won the Pau National.
His famous self built loft was 12ft.x 6ft, having two sections and open window trapping. Jed said that when he built his loft, being blind, he would work after nightfall and worked so late he lost the goodwill of his neighbours! In later years his wonderful old loft front had shown some wood rot and had been recently rebuilt by some friends. The loft had nice big landing boards and was scraped out every day, with no litter used on the floor. Jed only raced natural and said useful pigeon racing does not start until the birds go over the 250 miles stage. He kept no more than 14 pairs of old birds and he knew every bird by handling them. He said his fingertips were his sight and knew when a stray bird was in the loft.
The birds were fed on farm beans, peas and maize. Jed bred 24 youngsters each season and these were raced to the perch. He paired up in March, with the long distance Nationals in mind, and liked his old birds to race through to 500 miles, North and South Road. The Jackson’s had a good blue cock, a few seasons ago, and he raced and scored from 500 miles north and south several times. A brilliant pigeon! He said winning the Pau National was wonderful, but his best memory in pigeons was when he was a young lad in the north-east of England and he had pigeons in four nest boxes in the coalhouse. He said in those days he was ankle deep in coal dust, when he won the Pau National he was ankle deep in stardust. A wonderful fancier!
Our Jed was 90 years of age on the 13th March 2006 and was still racing his pigeons from the long distance with the National Flying Club until his death in 2007. In fact he clocked on the day of liberation from the N.F.C. Tarbes race in 2005. Brilliant stuff!
Cyril Medway of Southampton.
I must say that this week’s article is extra special to me personally, as it features two brilliant fancier who I admired in my early days in the sport. The late Cyril Medway of Southampton was my hero when I started up in pigeon racing, being the fancier who had superb long distance performances with a small team of pigeons. When I think about it, I realise I’ve tried to go down the same path as Cyril did in my 50 years in pigeon racing, having kept only a small team of birds and never having had a bigger loft than 15ft. long. Eric Cannon was a good friend of Cyril and in early 1977 he took me down to Southampton to meet the Hampshire champion.
Cyril’s record, despite the number of birds he sent to the long distance races, is second to none. He must be one of the most respected fancier within these four shores, staying consistently at the top in the major distance races every year. The Medway loft won 1st open British Barcelona Club Palamos in 1972 with the great pencil blue cock, Champion ‘Palamos Pathfinder’, who won the race by almost two days! After the event, Cyril had to take ‘Pathfinder’ in the kitchen every night for three weeks for safe keeping, but sometime after that he was sold to Japan, with two hens. ‘Pathfinder’ was bred from the dam of the loft, ‘Maureen’, when mated to a Hansenne cock from P.C. Morris of Andover and ‘Pathfinder’s’ performances were incredible, recording 2nd club Guernsey, 2nd club Exmouth, 1st club, 3rd Solent Federation Nantes, 58th, 161st, 135th open N.F.C. Pau, 1st sect, 1st open B.B.C. Palamos (658 miles) velocity 637ypm. A true champion!
Cyril became interested in pigeons as a young boy and had his first pair in a box in the garden when he was 11 years of age. Three years later he joined the Southampton S.R.F.C. and was given a lot of help by Bill Yates of Southampton. Positions were few and far between, but won a Guernsey race in his first season. Cyril married Joan in April 1947 and they moved in to their Southampton address. I went down to visit Cyril in mid-February 1977 with Eric Cannon, a good friend of Cyril of many years standing. It was a great day! To hear these two great long distance fanciers talking was most interesting. On our arrival, Eric introduced us and then it was all down the garden to the Medway’s small 10ft.x 6ft. loft, to see the birds. When I asked Cyril how many birds he kept, he said he was overstocked with 12 pairs at that time, as he usually housed just 10 pairs. The very neat loft was built by himself and it sat about 4 feet off the ground to stop the cats problem that Cyril was always plagued with. Trapping was through bob wires and the birds bathed on top of the loft as he didn’t like them on the ground, because of the cats. The traps were wired up to a bell in the house and this was checked every time the bird went to a major race.
Cyril opened the door of the loft and the cocks were in the young bird section. He asked me if there was anything in there I fancied. The first cock I picked out was a handsome pencil blue, which had never been in a basket, as he was the last son of ‘Palamos Pathfinder’ before he was sold. This cock was very true to the family, being medium, apple bodied in the hand, with nice wide flights and strong back. Cyril said he didn’t go too much on the pigeon’s back as he had handled good pigeons with so called ‘weak backs’. I asked him if he had his great 1967 blue pied cock, ‘Palamos Kid’, winner of 1st section, 9th open B.B.C. Palamos in 1971, and he said the ‘Kid’ must be dead as he was the only pigeon not to return from his team that went to Avranches one year.
Next pigeon to hand was the great mealy pied cock, ‘Palamos Eric’, winner of, 1972: 1st club La Reole, 1974: 22nd open B.B.C. Palamos, 1976: 5th open B.B.C. Palamos, winning the B.B.C. Channel Average in 1976, with his daughter who won 4th open Rennes young birds. Joan timed ‘Palamos Eric’, in from Palamos; in fact, she did most of the clocking in as Cyril was at work more often than not when the birds came in from the Palamos National. The next gem we looked at was the dark chequer cock, ‘Palamos Ned’ winner of 3rd club La Reole, 218th open N.F.C. Pau. He was then sent to Palamos four times, recording, 1973: 17th open B.B.C. Palamos, 1974: 88th open B.B.C. Palamos, 1975: 10th open B.B.C. Palamos, 1976: 66th open B.B.C. Palamos. ‘Ned’ was the last son off ‘Maureen’ before she stopped laying at ten years old. He was a first cross from a cock loaned by the late Ned Hammond of Southampton. Next to hand was a blue cock whose sire was bred by Eric and Pat Cannon and whose performance was, 3rd club Nantes, 19th, 121st, 490th open N.F.C. Pau and 74th open B.B.C. Palamos. Great stuff!
We looked at the rest of the cocks and they were all outstanding, then we had a cup of tea and a chat on the lawn, where I was told that Cyril was the secretary of the Southampton pigeon club for many years and was a first class clock setter. He fed beans and wheat when rearing, beans and a lot of maize when racing and some seed when the birds went to the National races. The birds were usually paired up on 13th March, although they were mated a bit earlier some years. The base of the family was Barker and every bird in the loft in 1977 was bred through ‘Maureen’, except for two Eric Cannon pigeons and a Dutch pigeon. Only two stock birds were kept and they were the nest pair bred from ‘Palamos Pathfinder’ before he was sold to Japan. Cyril said he hadn’t wanted to sell his great champion, but the risk of leaving him in the loft was too great and he was offered a good price. He said his modest transport was a push bike until he sold ‘Palamos Pathfinder’! 1972 was an incredible year for the Medway loft, which won 3rd club Nantes, 1st club Niort, 1st club La Reole, 218th open N.F.C. Nantes, 19th, 263rd 269th open N.F.C. Pau and 1st open B.B.C. Palamos. A brilliant performance! Cyril didn’t show his birds, but he did a bit of judging now and again.
Next it was the turn of the hens to be inspected. Cyril said his cocks were even better than his hens, which were a smaller type of pigeon. One of the first we looked at was blue chequer pied hen NURP 58 Y 5014, the great ‘Maureen’. Although she was 18 years of age, this wonderful pigeon looked great. Her full performance on the road was, 1960: raced unpaired winning 1st club Bordeaux (over 15 hours on the wing), 1961: 13th open N.F.C. Nantes, 1962: 89th open N.F.C. Pau, 1963: 267th open N.F.C. Nantes, 41st open N.F.C. Pau, 1964: 26th open N.F.C. Pau, 1966: 62nd open N.F.C. Pau, 1967: 148th open N.F.C. Pau, then put to stock.. She won over £800 racing in the 1960’s and was the dam of the loft and of ‘Pathfinder’ and ‘Ned’, and grandma of the ‘Kid’. This great hen was solid gold!
We looked at a very nice 1976 blue pied hen bred from, ‘Palamos Eric’ and ‘Palamos Joan’ and she had 4th open B.B.C. Rennes in the 1976 season, when there was only a handful of birds home in race time. Cyril said the birds wouldn’t fly around home when they were paired up so they got lots of training that season. The birds were trained from all over the place, but mainly from the west, down to Weymouth. Next to hand was the 1971 bred blue pied hen, ‘Palamos Joan’, and winner of, 1975: 9th open B.B.C. Palamos, 1976: 13th open B.B.C. Palamos. This hen was really nice in the hand and Eric Cannon really rated her highly. We looked at two hens which Eric Cannon bred for Cyril and their breeding was similar to Eric’s champion blue hen, ‘Culmer Blue Bird’. Cyril’s birds were very tame and he said they sat on his back when he was cleaning out! He also said he mob flew from Palamos in 1976, by sending five birds. Usually he only sent only two or three. Cyril’s wife, Joan, was a great help around the loft, feeding, timing in etc. and he told me, he could leave her in complete trust to time in , in fact, she even phones in the wing marks in the National races. He had hardly ever seen a Palamos pigeon come, as he used to work over the weekend, but did clock his great ‘Palamos Pathfinder’ when he won! That was a great day out in February 1977. I think it was incredible how Cyril Medway did so well at the highest level with only ten pairs of pigeons. Shortly after our visit, Cyril won 1st open B.B.C. Palamos for the second time. A brilliant fancier!
A little look back at two of the sport’s legends this week, I hope myeaders have enjoyed it. I can be contacted with any pigeon ‘banter’ on telephone number: 01372 463480 or email me on:
TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT (www.keithmott.com).