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Tribute to John Tyerman of Bracklesham Bay




Writes about winning fanciers past and present




It is with a heavy heart that I have to report the passing of my good friend John Tyerman on evening of 8th April. John had had health problems for several years, but never let it on get on top of him and carried on and enjoyed his life to the full until the end. He was a wonderful man and must be described as ‘Mr Pigeon Racing’, being one the best workers for the sport that I ever met. John put a lot of work into his beloved sport of pigeon racing, but his lovely wife, Linda and his wonderful family always came first! The sport of pigeon racing has lost another one of its greatest fanciers and we are all going to miss him very much. Our sincere condolences from Betty and myself to Linda and the Tyerman family at this very sad time.

 John and I have been good friends for many years, and we have been through several pigeon campaigns together, including serving on the National Flying Club and London & South East Classic Club committees and convoying pigeons together. We roomed together in the B&B when we travelled to the midlands for the National Flying Club committee meetings and in 2003 we convoyed the International birds to the waiting train in Belgium, when Brian Sheppard of Trowbridge won the race with his wonderful blue chequer cock, Champion ‘Legend’. When the members of the NFC sent their birds to their first International, no one really knew what an outstanding success it would be, and that British racing history was in the making. John and I were in the NFC delegation that went to Belgium to negotiate our NFC taking part in its first International race and then we convoyed the birds to the train in Belgium after marking. That Dax International marked the start of a new era in British long-distance pigeon racing and John and I were very proud to be a part of it. John was a founder member of the London & South East Classic Club and in the early days of the club, he was one of the main workers in making it a success, including convoying the Classic birds out to France on a lorry. In those days John and his wife, Linda, lived in Dorking and he was a member of the famous ‘Dorking Mafia’, a band of fancier in the Box Hill area, who supported and worked very hard for the Classic. John was a great committee worker for the L&SECC for many years until he moved to Bracklesham Bay and was the London & South East Classic Club President for three years. He was on the NFC committee for nine years and was the current President of the British International Championship Club. The highlight of the 2011 racing season for me was to see my good friend, John Tyerman, win the Central Southern Classic Flying Club’s longest old bird race from Tarbes. Johnny had not enjoyed good health over the last couple of years, which had created a worrying and distressing time his wife Linda and his family in general. I was happy to see him back in some good form and after his Classic win John and Linda were off on a five-week touring holiday of France and Spain. He had spent a life time working for our sport, most of the time at the detriment of his own pigeons and for Betty and me to see him win the CSCFC ‘blue Riband’ race in such great style was the great thing that season! I  asked John about his Tarbes success and he told me, ‘the Tarbes Classic birds were liberated at 07.00hrs into a North West wind and although weather conditions were favourable in France the south coast evening forecast was not good, as a weather front was predicted to move from the Atlantic into the English Channel. This turned out to be the case, with heavy rain, bad light and poor visibility from around 18.00hrs and indeed it was just like a winter evening, certainly not what you would expect in mid-summer. With the adverse weather and poor light, I did not think there would be any day pigeons, and as I sat in my conservatory with the rain hitting the windows. I suddenly saw a bird come off the English Channel and land on top of the loft, and realised it was my blue hen. The light was so bad I had to put the loft interior lights on to coax her in and she was timed at 20.25 hrs. She was a bit wet but seemed none the worse for her long fly and was keen to get into her nest box and her mate. My winner was a two-year-old blue bar hen that was flown on a celibacy system, mainly due to the fact that I had been quite ill and it seemed easier to do this rather than have hens laying all the time. Normally I do fly on the natural system so flying the sexes parted was relatively new to me, but I found they exercised well and seemed much fitter. My winning hen now named "Brackbay Star” had been paired in early March and after rearing two youngsters was parted to fly the celibacy system. As a young bird she was not raced, but as a yearling she flew several races north with the Southampton North Road Federation as far as Ripon. Then prior to winning Tarbes she raced Leicester and was then was turned south across the Channel to Fougeres and Tours. I should explain that my loft is only about 100 metres from the English Channel and normally the bird’s dog-leg back along the coast to me, which loses time, but on this occasion, she came straight off the sea, when visibility was very poor indeed. Most fanciers don’t appreciate how difficult it can be for Channel pigeons, which are often faced with strong winds, heavy seas and poor visibility over the last 100 plus miles from France to the UK mainland, but living close to the sea I often marvel at how they manage to do it.  The winning hen is a grand-daughter of my Barcelona Cock who was 5th and 7th BICC Barcelona (661 miles) and also 15th BICC Perpignan International. He in turn is a double grandson of my good hens "Rainbow Lady" and "Dorking Supreme", both outstanding distance pigeons, from my old Carmichael/Kirkpatrick family. There were three other gallant pigeons clocked that night from Tarbes and all flying over 500 miles, so my congratulations to these other fanciers for an outstanding performance on a difficult flying day’. John liked middle- and long-distance racing and had been very successful in National and Classic race for many years. The Tyerman red chequer Kirkpatrick pigeons have taken the ‘Classics’ by storm in recent seasons, winning in National races and shows with the same birds. His top pigeon in recent years was the Carmichael red chequer hen, ‘Rainbow Lady’, and she died of old age. This great hen was a champion racer and breeder, with her best nest condition for the 550-mile events being the old favourite, sitting 10-day old eggs. She won many premier positions including, 1st open Bromley Anglo / French De Luz St. Gean (550 miles) Open Race, 1st Sussex Federation Nantes, 12th open BICC Dax and scored from Pau and Saintes. ‘Rainbow Lady’ bred many top racers for John, including being dam of the mealy cock, winner of 43rd open in the NFC Dax International race and she was grand dam of a cock that won 7th open BICC Barcelona and 15th open BICC Perpignan. Another of John’s best was the blue hen, ‘Rainbow Blue Lady’, and she recorded 8th section, 22nd open Fountainhead Dax International, 42nd open L& SECC Le Mans. Since early childhood in Dumfries, Scotland, all John could remember was being associated with pigeons, but in those days, it was fancy breeds that took his eye. His grandfather, the late John McKay, was a well-established fancier who kept exhibition homers, and these were shown with much success at the large shows throughout the country. Whilst accompanying his grandfather to the shows he was often given pigeons including tumblers, tipplers, rollers and fairy swallows. With fascination he would spend hours just watching the tipplers and rollers in the sky. Being a pigeon fancier, John’s grandfather was friendly with many of the Dumfries racing men, one of whom was Andy Wilson, in those days a young man with many National successes. John left Dumfries in 1965 to join the police in the Border country and for the next two years was stationed at Hawick, where he was unable to keep pigeons, but kept in touch by visiting local fanciers. It was here in Hawick that John met George Jackson a fellow police officer whose father and uncle were top National pigeon racers in the Annan area. George and John became firm friends and in 1968 John moved to Earlston on marrying his wife, Linda, and it was not long before permission was sought to erect a pigeon loft in the garden of the county police station. To say the police authority were less than enthusiastic would be true, but what they did not know was that the police clerk of works was none other than John Robertson of Jedburgh, who was to make SNFC history by becoming a double winner of the SNFC with his Kirkpatrick champions, ‘Double Top’ and ‘Man Friday’. Fate was on John Tyerman’s side and John Robertson recommended his application for a loft alongside the police office. At that time John found that a local butcher at Gordon, was no other than Joe Newcombe, one of the famous Newcombe Brothers and the local baker at Lauder was the legendary John Carmichael. John Tyerman became good friends with Joe and John and when the loft was erected, he was given pigeons from the very best. That same year Joe won the SNFC Avranches race with ‘Tabby’, a strawberry mealy hen. George Jackson soon followed John Tyerman to Earlston and between them they policed a large rural area in the heart of the Scottish borders. Soon the best pigeons from Annan also arrived at the loft, including a black hen from George Kean. Having pigeons from the Carmichael, Newcombe and Keen bloodlines it was not long before the pigeons started to win prizes for the Tyerman loft. John and George Jackson became pigeon partners. One of their first big races was the Vaux Usher race from Beauvais where 20,000 birds were liberated at 06.00hrs in a light wind. At 16.40hrs John clocked a black Newcombe hen and during the next hour another five Kirkpatrick pigeons were timed in from a distance of 480 miles. A great performance, with the first bird recording 2nd section, 5th open into Scotland. The following year three birds were sent to the SNFC Avranches race, which turned out to be a very bad race and after 13 hours on the wing the black Kean hen dropped on the loft in the rain. The partners clocked two of their three entries in two minutes to win 32nd and 34th open National. Many other good positions were won and over the next few years more pigeons were added from Joe Newcombe and John Carmichael. Sadly in 1973 John had to part with his pigeons when he was given an appointment with the police in Hong Kong. George kept them going but on his promotion, he was moved and the pigeons were disposed of. On John return to the UK in 1977 he settled in Dorking, Surrey, some 25 miles from London and 40 miles from the south coast. A loft was soon erected, and pigeons obtained from good friends Andy Wilson of Dumfries, John Peterson and Kirkpatricks from John Carmichael. In the early 1980’s the Carmichael / Kirkpatricks put up some tremendous performances into Scotland in National racing and the Tyerman’s found that the family excelled in long distance events on hard days. John Tyerman’s pigeons were a family perfected by the late John Carmichael and he maintained many fanciers owe their success to this great Scottish champion. The Tyerman loft housed many direct Kirkpatricks from John Carmichael and one of the main direct stock birds was the red chequer cock, ‘Lauderdale John II’. This handsome cock was the sire of many top performers and was a son of Carmichael’s ‘Lauderdale John’, which was four times in the first 100 open in the SNFC results. John and Linda had many successful and happy years living in Dorking but on his retirement from the Police a decision was made to move firstly to Spain and then later to Bracklesham Bay, near Chichester, and they moved there in late 1999. He retired all his top Dorking pigeons and put them to stock at his new address in Bracklesham which ensured no loss of the winning genes. He became a member of both north and south road clubs at Chichester and over the years have found that racing on both routes is good experience for the birds. Like many southern fanciers he was a member of several specialist clubs and his friends in Scotland found it difficult to comprehend that there are often as many as 40 Channel races available, but John said it certainly sorts out the "wheat from the chaff" and over the years you are left with a fairly consistent family of pigeons that will tackle the last 100 plus miles of sea in even the most difficult conditions similar to the night of his Tarbes win. After moving to Bracklesham Bay he re-established a good team of race birds from his Eric Cannon and Carmichael pigeons and had a few outstanding Gaby Vandenabeele pigeons from his good late friend Ian Crammond of the highly success Crammond & Langstaff partnership and they proved good at the shorter races, especially on the north road. In John’s garden he had three small timber lofts and a larger 26ft one which faces north. Johnny told me, ‘my pigeon set up is nothing fancy but is suits me and the birds have flown well enough. In the past I have flown natural, but this past season tried a form of celibacy/roundabout which proved quite successful. I usually rear around 70 young birds but this year only around half that number due to my health issue. They are trained and some are raced but it does not bother me if they do not go to any races, as I have found as yearlings it makes no difference’. All his birds were treated for the usual pigeon diseases and one year he also vaccinated for salmonella/ paratyphoid using the Cheviot vaccine. He firmly believed that preventative treatment for salmonella/paratyphoid is very important as it is the "silent killer of form" in racing pigeons. John knew many fanciers are divided on this issue of treatments, but most of the top fanciers he had spoken to on the Continent all recommend preventative treatment for paratyphoid/salmonella. In 2006 the Tyerman’s friends John and Lou McGee stated their intention to move to France, and after a fair bit of research decided on the Nord Pas De Calais region as the area had several thousand fanciers and was good for International racing being about 40 miles from the Belgian border. They found a smallholding in the village of Hernicourt with great views across the Ternoise Valley and as John Tyerman and John McGee had earlier discussed the International racing scene the idea of the "Barcelona Challenge" was formed and in 2007 the first birds were sent from many premier UK and Irish lofts. It was in effect a one-loft race, but all races were to be flown in the large Nord Pas De Calais Federation. The McGee / Tyerman plan was to train and race the entries culminating in them being sent as two-year olds to the Barcelona International some 625 miles to the lofts in Hernicourt. John sent a team of birds across to John McGee and in 2011 his red Carmichael cock now named “Brackbay Barcelona" won the Barcelona Challenge, being timed at 10.23hrs on the second morning from Barcelona flying 625 miles. He in turn was a grandson off John’s good hen "Rainbow Lady". He had also been 8th, 9th, 11th, 16th and 23rd in the Barcelona Challenge proving to him that his family of long-distance pigeons could more than hold their own in the stiffest of competition. Over the years he has won many good positions in distance racing with the National Flying Club and the British International Championship Club, but he said, ‘it is fair to say there are often many disappointments and even the best-bred pigeons do not guarantee success. It takes time and a lot of patience to build up a consistent long-distance family of pigeons’. 

John’s pigeon management was quite simple with no fads, and most of his birds were raced on the natural system, with a small number of the cocks on widowhood. He paired performance birds together and quite often selects one or two that he felt would do justice in the show pen. The John Carmichael pigeons were a wonderful type, with brilliant feather quality and the Tyerman loft has won firsts at all the premier UK shows with them. His feeding consisted mainly of a good protein mixture, with vitamins and Aviform used in the water. He maintained the droppings were a sign of the bird’s health, and if all was not well, that’s where he looked first. Antibiotics were used, but not on a regular basis, as used too often the birds do not build up natural resistance. There you have it, my dear friend, John Tyerman, an officer and a gentleman! R.I.P.