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The Stoddart Strain of Scotland
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This brief article is not only about a strain of racing pigeons it is also about the extradordinary courage of a working class Scottish lad, namely Robert 'Rabbie' Stoddart, who formed the strain and in doing so overcame a crippling skin disease which bound him to his bedroom wrapped in bandages from head to foot.Yes, Rabbie Stoddart formed his strain and raced his pigeons based upon his instructions from his bed in a darkened room because he was not allowed to enter into daylight arising from an incurable skin disease.

Our story begins in West Carron in Scotland at the beginning of the 20th Century were Rabbie Stoddart, one of a family of seven brothers and one sister, entered the sport of pigeon racing. Initially he kept his birds in an old coal shed and in West Carron one had to have permission to keep pigeons and this was often refused but perhaps because of the would be fanciers disability the authorities granted permission. Eventually permission was given to build a loft in the corner of a neighbours garden and this was to be the environmental base from which members of the Stoddart family brought birds to Rabbies bedside so that he could make mangerial decisions about his stock and other matters which we take for granted. However a loving family ensured that its pigeon fancier would receive as much support and encouragement as possible. Even the neighbours played their part for, aside from one providing loft space, on racing days if a local soccer match was in progress, nearby, once pigeons arrived the play stopped and silence reigned until the birds were clocked. I wonder if the late Walt Disney could have imagined such a script.

At the base of the Stoddart strain was a blue cheq Stanhope cock which came via a Mr Tom Scott of Camelon. Stoddart had in his mind what he considered to be the type of bird that he desired for breeding and racing and the Scott cock was of this type. Then upon handling a pied hen bred by a Mr Radcliffe of Stalybridge known as '307' (of Gits C bloodlines) Stoddart knew that he had the base pair. He was proven to be right for the pair in turn bred 'Alfonso' an important pigeon of the Stoddarts. During 1925 more blood was added to the loft, one being a blue Logan cock of the Stanton Bros of Plumstead and two hens from S. Vine of Rosyth.One of the hens when paired with the Stanton cock bred '1704' who became a very consistent racer.'1704' when paired to a daughter of 'Alfonso' bred one of the lofts best racers 'Dauntless'. At about 1929 Rabbie Stoddart knew that things had gone well for his channel ambitions but he was still determined to improve his stock and he purchased some noted birds of the Osman strain amongst others including the blood of J.B.Clarke of Bothwell- the latter blood giving birth to the base of another great Scottish strain the '1210' strain of Mason. Emanating from the latter purchases there were good offspring, in particular a blue hen 'Little Lady' who was to become a pivotal factor in the evolution of the family. The latter hen when mated to one of the direct Osman birds 'Old Squills' produced two outstanding stock birds and an excellent racer 'Leading Lady' who won a race from Nevers, France (almost 700 miles) held in conjunction with the English based Up North Combine in 1929, by 50 yards per minute. In 1930 'Leading Lady' was also 3rd Open Rennes S.N.F.C. In due course Rabbie Stoddard won 3rd, 4th,16th and 19th Open in the Scottish Nationals as well as 2nd, 3rd, 6th,16th and 23rd in long distance races held under the auspices of the Scottish Midland Combine.Yes, 1st was elusive but what other pigeon racer could achieve what Rabbie Stoddard achieved under such terrifying disability? Surely he was one of the greatest.

It should be noted that the great English fancier, Vic Robinson, had obtained directly some of the Stoddard strain and the latter bloodlines are in the pedigree of some of Robinsons best birds including the great 'Mademoiselle' who was 1st and 2nd Open from Pau in the National Flying Club.Thus in a way Rabbie Stoddard achieved his 1st National four years after his death at the age of 49 in 1951. Many other national positions in the islands of Gt.Britain and Ireland and perhaps elsewhere were obtained by the bloodlines of the Stoddards.The fancy in Scotland must surely be proud of them.

Liam O Comain  -
by: Liam O Comain

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