Ken Whittle

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Ken My name is Ken Whitle, and my plot number… I don’t know, any road (laughs) I’d say around 20, say plot 20.
I’ve been on here 7 years and I’ve kept pigeons for 55 years. St. Clements vicarage, I was the caretaker at the church and I kept pigeons at the back of there for 13 years, and then at Swinton were I was born but overall its 55 years. You get it in your bones (laughs)
Racing Pigeons like yesterday, the excitement of pigeons coming. Like yesterday they were coming from 89 miles but when you get a pigeon to come from 600 miles on the day its very exciting to see it coming especially if you’ve bred it, very exciting.

Roughly 200 birds, I’ve a partner and he’s just come in with me now, never flown a pigeon in his life before and he’s about 25 years younger than me but think he just fancied coming into the sport. He finances me so its very very handy because I’m 77 and he’s about, think Jeff’s about 55. He’s his own business and everything you know so… its very, it should have happened to me about 25 years ago (laughs) having a good partner, you know what I mean (laughs) it should.
He’s alright Jeff, but there is a lot of work involved. Like we have a transporter come now Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and it holds 500 pigeons. You put your pigeons into the transporter and he takes them then to Congleton. He phones me up and tells me the liberation time and we can calculate the time of them coming back then, and he does that 4 days a week. Its very good but the only trouble is he costs a good sport now. Its going through the roof, of course everything else is going through the roof but it’s the cost of pigeon flying, the cost of feed and everything and there is a lot of money in pigeon flying. I have a friend called John Grimey and he has a hen there he’s bred himself and hes refused £55,000 for it, you’re talking a lot of money. He had a sale on Piper and the Japanese/ Chinese bought his birds and he got a few thousand pounds for her, she is very good pigeon flyer you know so, but there is quite a few on here you know. There is quite a few pigeons but they haven’t the facilities to train the birds and if you don’t train the birds you don’t win with the birds. And what happens now like this lad he’s won 2, the first 2 young bird seasons and he would never have won if it wasn’t for the transporter vehicle.

What happens is they go the 87 miles they raced yesterday and what it does, once you train a pigeon from a point, what they call the pigeon baton of the race, they get to that point it goes “hang on, I know my way home from here” so it goes, that’s basically what its all about.
There is a lot of moneymen come into the game now, you know people with a lot of money into the game, professional pigeon flyers and the armature pigeon flyers goes through the door, he’s no change at tall but that’s the problem we’ve go at the moment with the pigeons. The armature flyers haven’t a cat in hells chance, only the professionals. Its millionaires that go into it, you know, once they go into it you’ve had it.
We’ve got one or two very very successful pigeon flyers, they’ve just packed it in now, Wallette and Green. They were and when I say conservable they’ve made themselves going up for millionaire over flying pigeons 25 years. People go to their loft to buy pigeons and they buy youngsters that are three and half weeks old and they’ll pay for them youngsters anything from £250 to £1000 each but they have to have the pedigree, its amazing, amazing.

As regards… I’ve been secretary of Kersal Vale society for 15 year, now before that I was secretary of Pembroke royal society for 10 years before that… I’ve always been a secretary of a location but the trouble is the clubs, there isn’t a lot coming into the sport and whats happening now is that the clubs close down so the members from these clubs go into the next club and eventually, well there used to 24-30 along the embankment. They gave up on the sport you know, it’s a shame really.

At the moment we are trying to build this up again, the club house and that, its not too bad we’ve just been sent 321 birds on Friday night. Now with this electronic timing all you need to do is take your birds, they have an electronic clip on their leg, immediately after they go through those bob wires here (points behind in) they automatically clock themselves in there. The clock is in there (points to the large shed, kitted out with comfy chairs and a TV, at the other end of his plot) when we’ve got it all setup. Those are about £1200, for the clock! (laughs) having said that what it does then, it registers ever bird that comes into the loft in that time period. Like yesterday we’d in the time period from starting the clock to my mate taking the clock over to the club to have it red on, there were 34 birds on the sheet. You take it over there on this electronic timing system, plug the pocket clock into the computer over there press a button and you get two sheets what times the 34 birds came in, quite interesting but… and that then goes to John Crean who… he has all the distances in his laptop, he just puts that into his laptop and the result comes out, no… you used to have to work it out with calculators but you don’t do now thought.