“ON THE ROAD” WITH KEITH MOTT.
John and Mavis Williamson of Bridlington.
My self and some friends drove up to the North East of England to visit the newly founded Premier Stud and while in the area I took the opportunity to drop in on my ol’ friends John and Mavis Williamson of Bridlington. Since my visit to their home in Yorkshire, our Mavis has sadly passed away and is greatly missed by us all. John of course is one half of the highly successful Bolton & Williamson partnership who dominated the Federation and Combine results in Yorkshire for many years, until their Entire Clearance Sale in 2009. Brian Bolton and John Williamson had one of the best sprint/middle distance lofts that I've ever visited. Two brilliant fanciers with a very professional approach to the sport, with a wonderful loft of pigeons and fantastic performances to back it all up! The partners kept 12 pairs of Planet Van Loons and 12 pairs of Bob McDonald / Ko Nipius in their very smart stock loft, which had a nice big flight. They had the Bob McDonald pigeons for over 30 years and Planet Van Loon birds were obtained more recently, with outstanding results. John has not taken an active part in the racing side of the partnership for several years because of ill health, but has enjoyed keeping a small stud of the Bolton & Williamson / Bob McDonald / Ko Nipius pigeons in his own back garden. One champion long-distance cock I remember handling at the Bridlington lofts, was a blue chequer Bob McDonald / Ko Nipius, which had scored many times from the Channel including 4 times first up to 500 miles and 1st Open Scarborough, York and Hull Combine, Abbeville (300 miles). This cock had all the brilliance of the Bob McDonald of Fraserburgh pigeons; wonderful handling, feathering and eye sign.
John Williamson was bred and born in Bridlington, and no other family members were interested in racing pigeons. At about 12 years of age he caught a stray pigeon and then traded with a school friend, 2/6d and his favourite five bladed Scouts knife for a mate for it, to make his first pair. The first birds were housed in a rabbit hutch fixed to the garden wall and in 1958 graduated to a loft on the allotments, when took on his partner, John Marsden and joint the Bridlington Homing Society. In 1967 they moved house, moving the pigeons in to a loft in the garden and John recalls, he had three weeks to settle the birds before the first race and finished up winning three of the five races. The pigeons were obtained from several top local fanciers, but in the early days, John and Mavis, had big interest in their son’s sport, being a first class cycle road racer, and used to travel all over the UK to see him compete in first category races. When I asked John about his early performances, he said where do I start? ‘The Nevers Cock’ won the longest race (500 miles) four years on the trot and his good pigeon ‘The 22 Hen’ won 22 top positions in premier channel races. John won the ‘Silver Tankard’ Vaux Usher from Beauvais with 24,310 birds competing after a four day hold over. One season from Bourges there was only ten birds on the day and John recorded seven of them, taking the first four positions. He says these are the performances that stand out, but he could go on!
John first met the late Bob McDonald at a Doncaster pigeon show in the early 1970’s, while in the company of the late Bert Platt and J. H. Watson, and John tells me this was his first big step forward in the pigeon racing sport. He was smitten with the beautiful Ko Nipius / Jan Aarden pigeons he saw there and ordered a pair from the Ponderosa Stud the same day. The following year he met up with Bob at the National show again and he had won the breeders class with the Ko Nipius pigeons. The Ko Nipius / Jan Aarden pigeons are not only beautiful, but are fantastic racers on the middle and long distance, and have made Bob McDonald one of the all-time greats of pigeon racing in Scotland! The morning after the judging at the show John expressed his delight at Bob’s success in the show and he kindly presented him with the hen of the winning pair, which he took home to Bridlington. Later that year a fish wagon from Scotland pulled up outside the Williamsons house in Yorkshire and delivered six youngster, all direct children of Bob’s best champions, including: ‘The Terrible Twins’, ‘Gold Eye’, ‘The Little Cock’ and ‘5575’. What a gentleman Bob McDonald was! John says he has been in the company of Bob and his lovely wife, Gina, at the big shows for the last 30 years and had formed a little Ko Nipius / Jan Aarden society, meeting up at the BHW Blackpool Show every January, and sitting up in the hotel till the early hours talking pigeons. I have included a photo of John Williamson and Brian Bolton taken at the Amsterdam Olympiad in the 1970’s with Bob McDonald and Kop Nipius & son.
I stated directly after my first visit in the mid 1990’s and I’m still of the same opinion today, all these seasons later, Bolton & Williamson’s loft was one of the best I’ve ever had the pleasure to visit! Brian Bolton gave me a list of the partners Federation wins, which is impossible to reproduce in this article because it’s far too long, but at that time had recorded 76 times 1st Open and Section Federation, including 13 times in the 2005 season. The distance of the races range from 70 through to 500 miles, with birdage up nearly 6,000 birds and many times the partners had taken the first three or four positions in the Federation result. In recent seasons Bolton & Williamson have competed in the Midlands National Flying Club, recording 1st East Section 3rd open Tours, 1st East Section Picauville, 1st East Section Falaise, plus many times 2nd and 3rd Section. A young bird won 1st G.B., equal 1st in the Las Vegas Classic in November 2005 and the loft has won four R.P.R.A. awards in recent seasons. Fantastic fanciers, with brilliant pigeons!
Brian Bolton and John Williamson were two outstanding fanciers in their own right even before joining forces in 1982 to form the now famous Bolton & Williamson partnership. Brian was born in Bridlington in 1950 and obtained his first pigeons when he was a nine year old school boy. On developing pigeon fanciers' lung, he formed a partnership with John Williamson, although they housed their stock birds together a long time prior to this. Brian has been in the sport 40 years and was always the short / middle distance man and John the long distance fancier. Within the two years after my visit, the Bridlington Loft had won the Federation section 14 times and 1st Open ten times with up to 6,000 birds competing. The loft housed two Royal Pigeon Racing Association (RPRA) award winners, won in the North-East Region, which is the biggest region. The partners had won countless club firsts at all distances through the years. Thanks to John and Mavis for their hospitality all those years ago, they are lovely people! We really have looked at one of the best partnerships in the sport this week. Two absolutely brilliant fanciers!
TEXT & PHOTOS BY KEITH MOTT (www.keithmott.com)