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The Slabbinck Strain
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When my late father raced into a valley of the Sperrin mountain range in the 1950s (into the town of Limavady) I recall him purchasing a beautiful blue bar cock from a fancier who was retiring from the sport because of his need to emigrate to Britain (I think Oxford) to seek employment. Yes, those were hard times and many good folk were forced because of economic circumstances to seek their fortune across the water so to speak. That person was Laurence Duffy and the cock was always referred too as the Slabbinck- Cattrysse or 'Duffy's Slabbinck- Cattrysse'. Well half a century later I am in a better position to talk or write about M.L.Slabbinck because of my research for information pertaining to this great pigeon racer.

Modest Slabbinck was if anything an outstanding fancier of supreme consistency and this unfortunately ensured that he was barred from competing in some areas of pigeondom. Even clubs apparently deliberately folded up in order to get rid of him. Of course such unsportmanship will always be around, a belief confirmed by contemporary letters to our pigeon press from fanciers being unable to gain membership to certain clubs for no valid reason other than what?.

M.L Slabbinck was a Belgian national who arrived in England as a wounded soldier in 1918, obtained while fighting for the Allies in the first World War. After recuperation he so loved the land of the rose and its people that he decided to remain on in England where in due course he brought some of the best bloodlines from his native Belgium. As a widowerhood flyer he raced from the short to the marathon distances with great success into Templar Mead and in breeding Slabbinck used eye sign in his pairings, once stating 'I've visited all the crack Belgian lofts, including the great ones such as Cattrysse Bros, Devriendt, Van Der Espt, Vandenbroucke, Williquet Bros, Nachtegaele, Desmet etc., and I assure you that all their breeders are mated according to eyesign'.

Modest Slabbinck was a good judge of a pigeon and he realized from his years in his native country that one had to have the best of bloodlines if one was to succeed in the sport. That is why he went for the best and ensured that approximately 15 pairs of stock pigeons were second to none. They were mainly of the Cattrysse strain and some others carefully picked by himself. Based upon his sound decision Slabbinck went on to build his strain which became the envy of many fanciers in Britain and abroad. Which resulted in the purchase of representatives of the strain by others whose successes in due course enhanced the name of the Slabbinck strain.

To pick one representative racer from the Templar Mead lofts I have in mind a blue cheq cock which in 1959 won 8th Open Pau Grand National. The mother of this pigeon was very well known as a breeder of big winners and was called the 'Duchess Noterman hen'. Near 12 years when she mothered the 8th National winner known as 'The Steken'. The sire of 'The Steken' was 'Zoot' bred by Vandenbroucke- De Weerd of Belgium and interestingly also an 8th position National winner from Angouleme. This brief reference illustrates the quality of the inmates of the Slabbinck colony and like exiles before him and since, and here I have in mind the late J.W.Logan and the Patrick Bros, to succeed at the distance one has to procure the very best of bloodlines and hope that one is born with a good sense of husbandry or is totally determined to nurture it into existence. Slabbinck I believe was born with it and as a strain maker he added to the history of British based pigeon racing.

Liam O Comain  -
by: Liam O Comain

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