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A Bird in Hand: Inside pigeon fanciers’ weekend

From the fancy footwork of the world’s best dancers to the glistening plumage of top-flight pigeons, Blackpool’s Winter Gardens sees it all. Elizabeth Gomm popped along to the annual pigeon weekend with her camera to get in on the action.

Last weekend was “pigeon weekend”, one of the biggest revenue grossing events of the year, when the British Homing World Show of the Year brings thousands of fanciers and, more than 2,000 birds, to the town.

Dubbed the Crufts of the pigeon world, the birds on show are immaculately presented pedigree breeding or racing birds, some of which are sold at auction for huge amounts.

Hoteliers, shopkeepers, pubs, eateries and taxi companies look forward to the annual pigeon weekend (occurring annually on the third one in January) because it’s a no-fuss big earner.

The atmosphere in the Winter Gardens is unique. It’s a place where fanciers of all ages come to meet and where there are a hosts of events for them to attend.

Business is brisk in the trading areas where specialist stands sell everything from pigeon lofts that rival palaces to a humble bag of corn.

Elsewhere, including in the Empress Ballroom, veteran pigeon fanciers exchange opinions on the birds on show, ponder on their possibilities and hand down their knowledge to the next generation.

One man, leaning on the cages of the pedigree birds he’d brought to sell, told me he’d been keeping pigeons for 76 years. “My uncle gave me a pair when I were four year old an’ that were it,” he said.

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  • Show Comments (1)

  • Toy Rutherford

    I’m amazed by the clarity and thoroughness of this article, well done.

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