2009 Blue Chequer Bald Cock
The Early Years of the NRC
by David Derbyshire
During the mid 1960's, I wrote articles in "Pigeons and Pigeon World" under the Roller Ramblings heading. At that time, there were some keen roller fanciers in the West Yorkshire area. Alan Hamilton from Gildersome near Leeds was one of these, and correspondence ensued between us.
The main topic of these letters was a discussion on the type and expression required in a good performing Birmingham Roller. Birmingham Roller classes were becoming more popular than previously, especially at the Northern shows. However, quite frequently the judges could not recognise expression, and so judged on feather and condition only. This resulted in many very poor, angular headed birds winning red cards. To be fair to the judges, many were racing pigeon fanciers who had been asked to "tag on" the roller classes to their racing pigeon entries. Consequently they could not be expected to understand the intricacies of a good Birmingham Roller.
Understandably, these keen young fanciers felt that this state of affairs could not be allowed to continue as it was counter productive to the future development of the true Birmingham Roller pigeon. In 1967 a meeting was arranged in West Yorkshire, and the Northern Roller Club was born. Initially it was not intended to issue rings, that followed later. At that time the main objective was to contact show secretaries, offering the services of the roller breeders to adjudicate over the roller classses at their shows. This way it was hoped to improve dramatically the standard of judging, thus having the better birds winning. The strategy proved successful, and as a consequence the bird's type improved beyond initial expectations.
The fanciers at the inaugural meeting were: Derek Walker, West Ardsley, Wakefield, elected Secretary/Treaseurer; George Bartle, West Ardsley, Wakefield; Alan Hamilton, Gildersome, Leeds; Arthur Robinson, Wyk, Baradford and Bill Haynes, Leeds. Although not present at this meeting, I was elected the first President, a position I was happy to accept. Bill Hughes from Wigan, joined shortly afterwards. Other prominent members I recall in those early years of the club were Ferguson & Graham, Hartlepool (John Graham is still showing rollers); Derek Pedley, Blackpool, now a very successful racing homer fancier, and Jeff Davies, one still to beat from Barrow in Furness. The late Jack Ashcroft, Wigan; P Benton, Dewsbury and Ian Pickles, Chester-Le-Street, County Durhan, were fanciers I recall with good birds, and also the lads who came up to the shows from Worcester.
In those days, the Birmingham Roller was first and foremost a performer, and those aerial performers were the birds that were shown. A true dual purpose pigeon. Up until 1981, when I went out of rollers in favour of racing pigeons, I could still win in the show pen with my good performers. The first fancier to exhibit a lot of good type, good expression rollers was Ken White from Coventry. In the 60's, Ken was the man to beat, and he was a good supporter of shows all over England and Wales. Probably his two best known birds were a red grizzle bald and a dark tortoiseshell, both cocks. Later Bill Hughes took up the gauntlet and had the most successful stud for quite a few years. I will remember his cracking red chequer badges.
When my excursion amongst the ranks of the racing homer fancy came to an end in 1987, I started to visit the shows again. I noticed that a dramatic change had occurred in those intervening years, especially in head shape. Gone were birds with any sign of angular skulls, and a much more uniform type of roller was being shown. Terry Broads' name came to the fore and remains prominent to this day (1999)
The NRC in the 21st Century
by Jeff Davies
After reading David Derbyshire's Early History of the NRC, I feel qualified to comment on the clubs progress and development.
Since the NRC was formed in 1967, it has enjoyed constant support from Roller fanciers from most regions of the British Isles. Most of the active members being those breeding their birds for show purposes, although in recent years classes have been put on for Flying Rollers, and these are now getting good support at both the clubs annual shows.
After its early years based near Leeds, the NRC moved West into Lancashire, and held its annual championship show at Ashton-in-Makerfield with David Derbyshire at the helm.
The next Secretary & Treasurer was Robert Langrish, who chose venues at Bolton and Chorley for the shows he organised. However, the move to Lancashire was fairly short lived, for with the election of Dennis Simpson as Sec/Treasurer, the clubs base re-crossed the Pennines to its base in Bradford, where it has remained during the past thirty years.
Although the club always managed to remain financially viable, it was the election of Mick Bouchier to that most vital role of the Sec/Treasurer that secured the clubs finances. Mick took over in the late eighties with nothing more than a few postage stamps in the kitty.
In Mike's ten year stint, the club prospered, the membership rallied behind its Sec/Treasurer, and it grew and got onto a sound footing. Mike put in a lot of hard work during those years. It was Mike and his committee who turned around the clubs fortunes, and steered it into its best days.
In 1998/1999, John Weir became Secretary with John Graham his loyal banker, and they have maintained the clubs fortunes. During the past ten years, all the clubs trophies have been renewed, plus other NRC trophies have been put up at the show societies supported by the club.
The clubs open championship show, which is held in early January, has continued to be the premier Roller show in the UK, with an average of 350 entries at each show.
In 2006 a summer show was started. This has been held in the village hall at Temple Sowerby, Nr Penrith, Cumbria. Robert Bennion is the main man behind this event. Living close to this ideal hall, Robert has arranged suitable storage for the pens, and has adopted the role of Show Manager. In 2008 to avoid the holiday season, and to some extent the end of the moult, the date for the show was been moved with the hope of attracting thirty or forty more birds to the entry. It's a nice show with four fine new trophies. Flying Rollers are catered for. The ideal time for a pre show season get together, where birds can change hands and friendships rekindled.