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When I was just entering my teens in the 1950s
I first became aware of the name of Hansenne,
for within a valley of the Sperrin Mountains some
members of the two local pigeon clubs which included
my father, had representatives of this pigeon
strain. Little did I know then that this was considered
one of the great distance strains. In fact I was
ignorant of the meaning of the word 'strain' and
of the country of its origins, Belgium. In my
recall of a period of time long gone I wonder
how the Hansennes managed to play a part in the
sport in a small valley beyond the foothills of
the Sperrins. Where did they come from? Who brought
them? Yet they
succeeded in channel races from Milford Haven,
Bude and Penzance. So in researching this article
for our series upon dynasties, strains and families
of racing pigeons I am now more informed about
the strain although still ignorant of their origins
beside the Roe in County Derry. For alas generations
of local fanciers from the area have since gone
to that big loft in the sky.
Hansenne was from Verviers in Belgium and before
he died in 1903 he had moulded a strain of outstanding
racing pigeons. In fact the late AH Osman attributed
the Hansennes as being the primary base of the
then emerging Englishstrains atthe beginning of
the last century. In his writings the same authority
believed thatHansenne was the greatest long distance
racer of his day.
of Hansenne's best birds included 'Le Criquet'
who was hatched in 1877 and as a racer was 1st
National from Paris, 1st from St. Benoit and 3rd
from Tolosa. There was also an outstanding racer
known as 'Calvi' who amongst other successes was
1st from Calvi. There was also the great 'Le St.
Vincent ' which was 2nd St.Vincent and 1st St.
Benoit and Agen respectively.
Hansenne was known to have bought up more than
one loft in his pursuit ofa particular bird or
birds, culling the others in the process. Wherebreeding
wasconcerned he had a policy of never breeding
off a cock until it wasraced hard atthe longer
races. As a family they were composed mostly of
with tracesof bronze and short in legs and necks.
Chest wise they were not so broadas otherfamilies
of the time. His commitment to the long distance
races was extreme by reputation and there is no
doubt although he would not have been aware of
it, that this contributed to the advancement of
the long distance and marathon type of pigeon
racing which we are witnessing today.
Hansenne bloodlines lies at the base of many of
the old Belgian, British and other world strains.
Indeed this maestro was a pivotal figure in our
sport and Wanroy, and Aarden etc, and others of
today owe much to this outstanding pioneer.
by: Liam O Comain