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The Westcott Strain
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I have referred to a number of strains from Britain and also of Ireland in this series and in doing so I have received some comeback from fanciers and a peculiar aspect of that comeback ( for whatever reason) a few tend to think that only strains of racing pigeons can come from Belgium or in latter years Holland. Now I don't want to get into the old blind racist position that Irish strains are best, or English strains are best, or Dutch strains are best, for although I'm proud of my Irish nationality I acknowledge that our racing thoroughbreds whatever configurations they encounter in any part of the planet have to accomplish upto 5, 6 and 700 plus miles to get home. And such distances are not easy in any part of the globe. Of course being proud of ones national produce is an attitude held world wide for I have received correspondence from the southern hemisphere contending that the European pigeons are not as good as those of Australia and New Zealand. However, to return to our original finding there does exist strains and very good strains in the nations of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland as well as the rest of Europe and of course the world but there have been some strains not given the due that they deserve. One of those strains is the Westcotts of England.

The core founder of the strain according to my research was W Westcott of Ipswich and he formed his strain in approximately a decade and a half of time, a strain which produced many winners for the Westcotts and others in the last century. The founder had not long to achieve success for in 1926 with the North Road Championship Club he won from Lerwick and in the following year 1927 his brother won the same Kings Cup from the same race point. The winner being bred by W Westcott for Ben Wescott. Surely a landmark in North Road flying to win the most sought after trophy two years in succession.

Apparently assuming my sources are correct the main actor W Wescott once raced with his father as Wescott and Son in the latter years of the 19th century until at the age of 16 years in 1901 he decided to race apart from his father. For a while he and his brother Ben raced as a team.Thus began the drama of strain formation and success although he did not make a conscious decision to mould a strain until according to his own testimony 1910. He began with the following base: three pigeons from A. E. Sheppard, of Woodford, of the Nantes Freeman Hen blood; three pigeons bred by A. P. Taft, of the J. L. Baker Little Wonder, Ironsides, Favourite and Orchardson's '40' blood; four pigeons from F. Houghton, of Wellingborough (two of Hustwaites Bros' 1st Lerwick NRCC and the other two from his seven times Lerwick pair); and two pigeons from Mr Lulham ­ bred from half brothers and sisters out of Clutterbuck's No. 51, Lerwick NRCC 1914. There was also '969'- The Logan Cock raced by P. Clutterbuck and a son of Col. Osman's Hopeful as well as a pigeon from Eccles, of Darwen. In addition Westcott used a blue cock bred by Houghton, of Finden, from the Thorogood Hen '42', and a hen bred by Ure, of Polmont, Scotland, inbred to McClean's No Surrender ­ winner of the Scottish National. This was his base and a sound one at that and in due course his expectations were fulfilled.

An interesting observation is that W Westcott was an advocate of the famous or infamous ( depending upon ones experience or study ) 'eye sign theory' and that he mated his pigeons according to the principles of this controversial thesis. It is an item upon which I have an open mind and its supporters would argue in support of their position that through it Westcott bred two Kings Cup winners. However aside from this theory Westcott produced a type of pigeon that shone in both hard and easy conditions. For example his famous blue hen known as '589' won 1st Thurso, 488 miles, with the very high velocity of 1901 yards per minute, and then won 1st Ipswich FC, 3rd section, 12th open Lerwick, NRCC, with a velocity of 375 yards per minute. They were mainly long casted with good feathering, short legged, broad fronted chequers and blues including red chequers with occasional eye ticks.

There were many outstanding pigeons of the strain but let us look at the record of the blue cock known as '12' which flew 1920 (youngster) ­ Durham, 220 miles; 1921 ­ Banff, 416 miles on the day; 1922 Thurso, 12th IFC and 3rd Perth; 1923 Lerwick, 24th open NRCC, 5th section; 1924 Lerwick, 29th open, 8th section; 1925 Lerwick, 12th open, 3rd section; 1926 Lerwick, 1st Open and King's Cup NRCC; 1927 Lerwick, 33rd open, 11th section. This birds children and grand children were also successful on the tough northern routes.

As the years advanced the Westcotts won trophy after trophy confirming that the quiet English fancier had done what he had set out to do in 1910. The fruit of a good thinking fancier ensured that the name Westcott would be forever etched in the sport of pigeon racing as he formed a strain capable of competing against any from wherever. May this brief insight into the Westcott strain add to and strengthen that etching.


Liam O Comain  -
by: Liam O Comain

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