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The McAlpines of Scotland
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The McAlpines were one of the most feared strains in the history of pigeon racing in Britain. John McAlpine started in the sport in the early 1890’s and his base derived from the Stanhopes of Barrett, Baker, Whitmore and Toft. In the 1912 Scottish National from Rennes a distance of 545 miles the McAlpines took 7th place. In the disastrous race of 1913, with only 14 birds timed on the day, Johns birds were 3rd and 6th National. In the 1914 race, the McAlpine loft clocked 3 birds in the first 30 out of only 6 birds sent. In that smash of 1914 it was a black chequer hen that took 3rd place. The same hen took 19th place again and her ring number was 6638 and she was inbred to J. L. Bakers, 'Little Wonder', a pigeon that was destined to play a crucial part in the forming of the McAlpine strain..

Then, the to be well known Dr. Anderson bought John McAlpine’s complete team of birds with McAlpine as his loft manager who looked after birds during Andersons war time service. There were races during the war from inland race points but after the war the S.N.F.C. returned to the European mainland and once again held the national from Rennes where in a race when only 2 birds were timed on the day, Andersons birds were1st, 5th, 11th, 16th, 19th and 23rd.

Anderson was to make many trips to Belgium and on these trips John McAlpines son, Willie, accompanied him where they often visited the famous Dr. Bricoux of Jolimont and across the border in France visited another champion, the great Paul Sion . Many of the best racers and breeders from these masters found their way back to Scotland to enhance the quality of Andersons lofts.

Using the best of the imported pigeons as crosses into the lofts the Anderson family was formed. Alas after innumerable successes and because of bad health Dr. Anderson retired in 1948 but before he left he gave the McAlpines the pick of his loft. They carefully selected from the old Stanhope family and only the best of the Sion, Bricoux and Le Fijnen bloodlines. Out of these bloodlines came great Surp 50 13315, the Barcelona Blue who flew 7 times over 500 miles then as an 8 year old sent to Barcelona 1036 miles, breaking the British 1000 mile record in 1958.Even a grandson of this great pigeon flew Barcelona confirming that blood will tell. And when we think of other outstanding marathon flights into Scotland by others for example Jim Moffat and D Forsyth the the records show the influence of the blood from the Armadale lofts.In fact all of the Forsyth pigeons came from the McAlpines.

There were many other great pigeons and great triumphs over the decades under the expert know how of both John and Willie McAlpine and the strains achievements was honoured in 1992 when Willie McAlpine became Scotlands Fancier of the Year. Many Scottish national winners contain their bloodlines. Sadly on the 7th December 1994 at the age of 86 Willie McAlpine passed away but the legend continues for the birds of the unique partnership of father and son McAlpine are still talked about wherever fanciers congregate and there are those who claim a continuity of bloodlines. If so, then they possess a goldmine in pigeon stock terms.

Liam O Comain  -
by: Liam O Comain

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