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Bellchambers Brothers of Brentford



Looking back at London & South East Classic Club winners (Part 24).


Bellchambers Brothers of Brentford.


The London & South East Classic Club had a good turnout of birds for the first Young Bird and Old Hens Classic race, flown from Guernsey at the back end of August 2010. True to recent form, the weather on the day had a bitter / sweet edge to it, resulting in a funny race, with very fast velocities and considerable bird loss. I was at Carentan with the Central Southern Classic Flying Club birds that same day and the weather in France and the English Channel were brilliant, but it appears not to be so good in main land England. The convoy was liberated at 12.30hrs in to a strong south west wind and the leading pigeons recorded over 2000ypm.


The Old Hens Classic was won by the highly successful Bellchambers Brothers partnership of Brentford. Their winner, named ‘Westwood’, was purchased at the MCC young bird auction in 2009 and was bred by Midlands partnership of Westwood Brothers. This game hen was bred from the best Cattrysse bloodlines and was bred down from Colin Lloyd’s National winner, ‘King Arthur’. ‘Westwood’ won the Guernsey Classic being sent on two big babies and as a young bird recorded 29th open L&SECC Guernsey.


The very successful Bellchambers partnership race in the Isleworth club and have enjoyed very successful racing every year, with 2005 being one of their best seasons racing in the Three Borders Federation. They lifted three premier trophies and won: 1st, 5th Federation Bergerac (longest old bird race); 1st Federation Messac; 2nd, 5th, 7th, 10th Federation Lulworth; 4th Federation Kingsdown and 7th Federation Exeter. In the very strong SMT Combine the Brentford loft recorded 1st open Messac (2,885 birds) and 11th, 20th open Bergerac (1,795 birds).


The 2002 season was another great one for the Bellchambers lads, when members of the N.F.C. sent 6,873 birds to the Guernsey young bird National and with a strong westerly element in the wind, a lot of the leading pigeons were in the London area. The Bellchambers family crowned a brilliant 2002 season by recording 1st, 2nd and 6th open in the Guernsey National. The brother’s father, Bill, named the NFC winner ‘Nelly Bell’ after his late wife. The pigeon a Staf Van Reet / Meulemans cross blue hen, which was a cross that has been very successful in classic and national racing for the Bellchambers loft in recent seasons. ‘Nelly Bell’ was a darkness youngster, sent to the national sitting 14 day old eggs and is bred down from a long line of good winners. She was one of a team of 60 youngsters in the Bellchambers loft that season and had four club races on her build up to the national win, being rested for one week before the national. Bill and his two sons, David and Derek, put 40 youngsters on the darkness system and keep the sexes separated until the first young bird race, then they are let loose together, to pair up if they wish, in a big young bird loft. The young birds have three 30 mile training tosses every week throughout the season. The Bellchambers youngsters don’t exercise around the loft in the racing season, only going out the day after the race for a walk around the garden and a bath. I had a good chat with David at the NFC prize presentation in the December after their National win and he told me he is very hot on the young bird management and spends hours in the loft with them. In the Guernsey national the partners had three pigeons flying around the loft together and although ‘Nelly Bell’ was the third pigeon to the loft; she was the first bird on the clock and became the national winner. The 2nd open winner was a pencil blue Van Reet / Meulemans cock called ‘Bill’s Lad’ and he was also a darkness youngster. Their fourth pigeon in the Guernsey national, which rated very highly in the open result, previously won 1st sect, 3rd open Guernsey in the London & South East Classic Club, three weeks earlier. The four pigeons clocked in the Guernsey national were all bred down from one blue white flight Van Reet stock hen purchased at the Rod Baxter clearance sale. The Bellchambers young bird team were on fire in the 2002 season winning: 3rd, 4th, 46th and 50th open L&SECC Guernsey (1,376 birds), 1st, 2nd, 6th and 16th open NFC Guernsey (6,873 birds), 2nd, 6th, 13th, 26th, 47th, 78th, 82nd and 92nd open L&SECC (2,145 birds). Young bird racing at it’s very best!


The Bellchambers partners started up in pigeons in 1969 with a few streeters in the garden and their first racers were obtained from Billy Sando, and the old West Middlesex Federation convoyer, Roy Perkins. The partner’s first winner was from Bournemouth in 1970 and they always enjoyed club and Federation racing up to a few years ago, when they started to concentrate on national and classic racing. The Bellchambers loft has won the Federation countless times and in races from France have recorded 1st open SMT Combine Nantes in 1999 and 2nd open SMT Combine Nantes in 2002. Bill told me at that time that the grand dam of their national winner, ‘Nelly Bell’, won 12th open St. Milo young bird national in 1994, for the Brentford loft.


They race twenty cocks on the widowhood system and pair them up in February each season. The cocks rear a pair of youngsters and are on the system at 12 days on their second nest of eggs, when the hens are taken away. The widowhood cocks are not trained, just exercised twice a day around the loft and are not broken down, being given as much corn as they want. The birds are fed on Versele-Laga super widowhood and Bosmolen corn, and the widowhood team race through to 300 miles. The main family they keep is Van Reet and the eight pairs of stock birds are put together at the same time as the racing birds so that their eggs can be floated in the racing sections. Bill told me he likes latebreds for the stock loft and the partner’s national winner, ‘Nelly Bell’, was bred from two latebreds. Bellchambers Brothers one of the best racing partnerships in the Middlesex area today!


Daryll Luxford of Horley.


In 2012 the Luxford family had extensive work carried out on their Surrey home and at one point had to move out for several weeks, making pigeon racing nearly impossible for Daryll. In what little racing he manage to have, he produced some really outstanding performances, the best by winning the London & South East Classic Club ‘Merit Award’ from Tarbes (548 miles) with his good blue chequer cock, ‘Fred’. The ‘Classic’ presents any pigeon that records three positions in the first fifty of the open result in the longest old bird race a ‘Merit Award’. These beautiful diplomas have the pigeon’s photo and full race details on, ready to be framed and hung on the wall at home. These wards are very hard to win and through the years only a small number pigeons have achieved it.  Daryll won the L&SECC ‘Merit Award’ with his John Puddephatt blue chequer cock, ‘Fred’ and he was bred by Gavin Mitchell in 2007. Both his parents were bred by in the Puddephatt loft, with his sire being a son of ‘Highdown Duke’, winner of 1st section, 11th open NFC Pau, 3rd section, 24th open NFC Dax, 10th section, 70th open NFC Pau and brother to ‘Louis David’ winner of 1st section, 6th open, 135th International Dax (17,500 birds). ‘Fred’s’ dam is a daughter of ‘Highdown Prince’, who was clocked twice on the day from 500 miles, winning 3rd section, 25th open NFC Pau, 2nd section, 19th open NFC Dax, 2nd section, 15th open NFC Saintes. This game widowhood cock had flown Tarbes (548 miles) four times to secure the ‘Merit Award’ and recorded: 2010: 36th open L&SECC Tarbes, 2011: 5th open L&SECC Tarbes and 2012: 29th open L&SECC Tarbes. A fantastic performance! Daryll has concentrated on the Classic’s longest race from Tarbes in recent seasons, racing the John Puddephatt of Ferring bloodlines and has recorded: 2008: 9th open, 2010: 36th open, 2011: 5th open and 2012: 20th, 29th open. Daryll has a long list of premier performances won in 2012, including 1st club, 2nd South Coast Federation, 2nd open Wessex Combine (1,700 birds) Saintes, 1st club, 14th South Coast Federation, 15th Wessex Combine Tours (1,971 birds), both won with his brilliant Gaby Vandenabeele blue cock ‘JT’. With a team of only ten widowhood cocks the Luxford loft flew four channel races in the Reigate Coly winning: 1st, 2nd club, 37th South Coast Federation Fougeres, 3rd, 6th club Fougeres, 1st, 4th, 5th club, 14th South Coast Federation, 15th Wessex Combine Tours, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th club, 2nd, 4th, 15th South Coast Federation, 2nd, 14th, 73rd Wessex Combine Saintes.


I recently met up with Daryll and when I asked him about his current racing system, he told me, ‘my present set up is three lofts, with two being for my racing old birds and young birds, and 8ft structure for the stock birds. In my opinion two most important factors are a dry loft and I put stock and young birds on deep litter and the other golden rule do not overcrowd. For the last two seasons I have raced cocks only on widowhood system and in my loft set up I have 12 boxes per section, but only a maximum of 27 are used over all. In the 2012 season I had ten occupied with my racing cocks, with a small selection for six hens to race natural in the Old Hens races at the end of the season, after hey have been widow hens in old bird season. I do not breakdown or repair for the longer races, once my cocks are finished they are allowed to rear a nest, and then the hens are prepared for the Old Hens races. All the old cocks have a specific programme of between three and six races, if they remain fit and unharmed from predators. I’m now really interested in middle to long distance racing. My feeding is very simple, Versa Laga mixture in the morning with super widowhood in the evening, peanuts are added as the distance increases and the youngsters get both Versa Laga and super widowhood as well once they get over the channel. The cock might see their hens before a race, but it’s rare and if so it is for a few minutes only, as I found it wound up the cocks too much. However upon returning from the race they may get fifteen minutes to two hours depending on how hard the race has been. This includes my Tarbes candidates. You have to be an aware of your birds habits, i.e. most of my birds are fed in a trough but I have one cock, that as he comes into form, he will spend the entire time chasing the others, and boy is he spiteful, so he gets fed in his box. I would like to like race my hens on widowhood at the distance but time currently does not permit, as I feel they are wasted. The few hens I’ve raced in recent seasons have won: 12th, 182nd open NFC Fougeres, 96th, 98th open L&SECC Vire and 14th, 37th, 47th, 48th open L&SECC Carentan. The distance cocks at two years old go to Tarbes, yearling ideally Bergerac 438 miles. The middle distance team, which all race up to 300 miles are made up of Gaby Vandenbeele, Van de Rhee and Janssen, and the 500 mile birds are all John Puddephatt bloodlines’. The 2008 season was Daryll’s first on the widowhood system and generally was pleased with his yearlings, concentrating mainly on the Guernsey races with the East Grinstead Midweek Club and won 2nd, 2nd, 2nd and 7th club in four races. The future seasons saw Daryll racing his old bird’s entilly on the widowhood system and concentrate mainly on the Classic and National races. He has had good success every season with 2011 being a particularly good season, the highlights being, 7th open L&SECC Alencon and 5th open L&SECC Tarbes.


Daryll was an outstanding fancier in the mid 1990’s recording several major positions with young birds in the L&SECC and NFC events, including twice 1st open L&SECC Guernsey, but after a few years had to retire from the sport because of person problems. He returned to pigeon racing in 2004 and took up where he left off, winning major prizes. In spite of recent health problems Daryll Luxford enjoyed an incredible 2008 old bird racing season, with the highlights being, 1st section, 4th open NFC Alencon (7,067 birds), 9th open L&SECC Tarbes, 93rd and 115th open L&SECC Tours. The 2008 star pigeon for the Horley loft was the handsome blue cock, ‘Oakleigh Belle Bleu’, and he recorded 1st section, 4th open NFC Alencon, 115th open L&SECC Tours, 2nd East Grinstead Tours Nomination and previously flew Tarbes (548 miles) with L&SECC in 2007. His sire was bred by Steve Deely from his good pigeon, ‘Young Windsong’, and the dam of ‘Belle Bleu’ was a Camphuis / Sanger Janssen stock hen. Daryll tells me his 2008 Tarbes pigeon wasted a lot of time trapping on his return from the 548 miles L&SECC race, but was recorded on the day of liberation and gave his a lot of pleasure. The pigeon, ‘Oakleigh Corinna’s Courage’, was bred from John Puddephatt bloodlines, through Gavin Mitchell and has several good performances to his credit, including 2008: 9th open L&SECC Tarbes (721 birds), 258th open L&SECC Alencon (2466 birds), 2007: 673rd open NFC Alencon (6807 birds).


The main families kept are direct John Puddephatt from his super cocks, ‘Highdown John II’, ‘Highdown Duke’ and ‘Highdown Supreme’, for the long distance, Janssens from John Mellor and Louella Pigeon World and several other performance pigeons, including direct children of 1st open National winners. Recently he was fortunate to be offered all of Neil Williams of Ferring birds, which were only the very best of John Puddephatt bloodlines, with him being a close neighbour to John. It was an offer Daryll could not refuse and although he was very sorry that Neil has had to leave the sport, as John Puddephatt said at the time, “Neil’s loss is the Luxford loft’s gain’. Daryll keeps a maximum of eleven pairs of stock birds and breeds about 35 youngsters for racing each season. He starts his training with several 5 mile tosses and says, ‘look at athletes they don’t just go out and start running marathons, they build up to the long events’ and that how he builds his pigeons up to the races from the south of France. They get two channel races from about 150 miles, then into Tours (365 miles) before going to Tarbes (548 miles) and get the usual short training from 20 miles as needed. The young birds get over 50 training tosses up to 55 miles and race through to the NFC and L&SECC races. Daryll tried the darkness system in the 2008 season and maintains young birds need rest as much as quality exercise, getting the balance correct is very important. His current employment is Contract and Insurance manager for East Sussex Fire Service and is based in Eastbourne, an 85 miles trip to work every day, but says he has never taken his birds to work for training. Daryll has won some outstanding positions with his pigeons through the years, including 1st open L&SECC Guernsey (twice), but in spite of losing time his biggest thrill was clocking ‘Oakleigh Corrina’s Courage’ at 18.51hrs on the day of liberation from the 2008 L&SECC Tarbes classic, to record 7th section, 9th open.


When I asked Daryll who he thought was the best local fancier his reply was, ‘Without doubt, we have a very strong club locally, with some very fine fanciers, but for consistently Peter Shubbs and the Neil & Dick Steptoe partnership are both incredible flyers’. Daryll tells me he likes to pair good performance pigeon together and pairs John Puddephatt’s together to maintain the winning long distance family. He is developing a good sprint family of Vandenabeele / Janssens and says his best sprint pair bred ‘Oakleigh Belle Bleu’, the 4th open NFC Alencon cock. Daryll likes to breed close and will pair brother and sister together as long as they are from a rock solid family of good performers, and likes the odd late bred for stock. He thinks winter is the rest time for the pigeons, but years ago he liked to show his birds and has won BIS at the local events. His birds may only be let out of the loft for exercise two or three times during the winter period of October to December. He believes pigeon racing has progressed over the years, which has made fanciers keener and more professional with their feeding and racing methods, and maintains all clubs should have an open radius. Daryll loves Classic and National racing, but says they should have two races from the long distance every season and should have a look at joining the International. He maintains that club racing should be completely over hauled and every none trouble making fancier should be accepted into any club.


Daryll is over 50 years of age and the only other Luxford family member in the pigeon fancy was his uncle, Peter Robb, who gave him his first birds on starting up in 1990. In the early days birds and advice were obtained from Mike Armitage of Ash, Nigel Lewellyn of Southampton and Doug Gender of Storrington. His first club was the Horley North Road and his first major prize was 3rd Federation Peterborough. The 1995 season saw Daryll Luxford have his third season on the trot with outstanding performances in the Classic young bird races. In the Young Bird National from Sartilly in 1995 the Luxford loft recorded 4th, 17th, 48th sect, 40th, 144th, 314th open, 1st, 6th Surrey Championship Club. At club level the babies recorded three times 1st Club, five times 2nd Club and 1st Continental Club from Poole. Daryll didn't fly many old bird races in the 1995 season but did chalk up 49th, 62nd sect, 349th, 524th open, 4th, 6th Surrey Championship Club from the Pau (550 miles) National. In 1994 Daryll won London & South East Classic Club's young bird Classic from Guernsey for the second year running. The partners' 1994 winner was a March-hatched blue chequer hen named 'Lobelia' which only had two races as a youngster. She was first bird on the clock from Lyndhurst (66 miles) to record 12th Club, then into the Classic Guernsey (154 miles). This game hen recorded 1st open, 1st SW sect, lifting £825 prize and pool money and £75 vouchers from Stock Nutrition. Sire of 'Lobelia' flew the Channel 12 times in three seasons including the Pau National in 1994. The dam was bred by Doug Genders of Storrington and was one of Daryll's favourite pigeons. Daryll won 4th section, 40th open Sartilly (NFC), 1st Surrey Championship Club in 1995 with his blue chequer pied cock '12', he was a full brother to 'Lobelia' the 1994 Classic winner. '12' was only lightly raced in 1995 and also won 3rd Club Poole, beaten by two loft mates. Highlight of the 1993 season was when their blue pied cock 'Rufio' won 1st open, 1st SW sect L&SECC Guernsey (1,465 birds). This game blue pied cock was the only pigeon in the convoy to record over 1400 ypm and his nest mate, also a blue pied cock, called 'Peter Pan', won 1st Club Lyndhurst and 2nd Club Lyndhurst in 1993. A fantastic performance by this nest pair which only had three races each as young birds in 1993.


The main loft in the 1990’s was 15ft x 8ft with three sections, corridors and Sputnik trapping. The second loft was 15ft x 6ft and housed the young bird team. Daryll maintained warmth and ventilation are very important factors in good loft design. Daryll kept 16 pairs of Natural racers and bred about 50 youngsters each season. He paired up all the old birds in late January and the racers rear only one round, then they are trained from 50 miles up to the first race. He didn’t like the race team feeding youngsters and racing. At that time he believed the Widowhood system was the way forward for inland racing although his loft was geared for Channel races, as he maintained an experienced hen will always give that little extra over 500 miles. On restarting in the sport in 2004 Daryll obtained six stock birds from Keith Wilkins, which were Van Bruane, Kirkpatrick and Kellen and eventually purchased the John Puddephatt long distance bloodlines direct and from Gavin Mitchell. Daryll has always been keen on sport and played Hockey at the highest level for Sussex and England, and competed around the world with the British Army. As a 15 year old he had the 5th fastest time in Europe at the 3,000!


Dick & Neil Steptoe of Oxted.


The London & South East Classic Club held its final race of the 2004 season, when members sent 1,600 young birds to Guernsey. The Saturday morning of the race dawned with blue skied, sunshine on the baskets, with a clear English Channel and the convoy was liberated at 09.00hrs in a fresh south west wind. The members enjoyed a ‘banger’ of a race, with the leading pigeons making over 2050 ypm and the classic secretary, Peter Coles, told me that only 10 members of the 190 who sent, failed to verify a pigeon.


Dick and Neil Steptoe of Oxted recorded the winning pigeon at 11.20hrs flying 165 miles and clocked another bird 6 seconds later to record 2nd open. The father and son partnership sent 16 birds and their winner was a ‘darkness’ blue pied hen raced to the perch. This game hen won 23rd open at the first young bird Guernsey Classic in August and is bred down from the Vic Oliver’s Van Reet bloodlines. She was given every Federation race in her build up and Neil told me that his youngsters normally get three 25 mile training tosses every week through the season. The second pigeon on the clock was another Van Reet blue pied hen, sent sitting due to hatch eggs and she is a granddaughter of the Steptoe’s champion hen, ‘Double Top’, winner of 1st open Combine Alencon and 1st open Combine Bergerac in the same season. A brilliant line of Van Reets! Neil says all the 50 young birds go on the ‘darkness’ system and race the programme each season.


At that time, Neil had been in the sport 21 years, with his father, Dick, joining him and forming the present partnership in 1990. They race 36 cocks and 12 hens on the widowhood system, with the hens being re-paired half way through the season to race the longer channel events, on the natural system. The Steptoe's have four lofts, with super traps, and pair up the racers in January. The race team rear a pair of youngsters and go on the widowhood when sitting their second round of eggs. They are given ten 30 mile training tosses when they are driving to the second nest and the whole team go to the first four inland races to get them fit, with some of the cocks staying inland for the season, and the hens being the main channel racers on the natural system. Neil says he breaks down at the end of the week and they are fed on ‘Gerry Plus’ and ‘Breeders Plus’. The double Combine winning hen, ‘Double Top’, was sent to Alencon, sitting 10 day old eggs, and then won the Combine from Bergerac feeding the youngsters when they hatched. Neil and Dick keep 20 pairs of stock birds, which are mainly Van Reet and Janssen, and these are paired up the same time as the racers, so their first round of eggs can be floated in the race loft. The stock team are fed on ‘Breeders Plus’ and are separated after they have reared two rounds of youngsters, the breeders and young birds are kept on deep litter, with the widowhood lofts being scraped out twice a day.


That’s it for this week! I can be contacted with any pigeon ‘banter’ on telephone number: 01372 463480 or email me on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.