WOODROFFE BROTHERS OF SUNDERLAND.
It was in the spring of 1970 that Albert, Fred, and Dave Woodroffe, decided to form their present partnership, after the death of their father in an underground mining accident at the local Wearmouth Colliery. Albert and Fred were young men while Davey was still at school, and in that very first season together they won the second race they flew in, with a Mealy cock ring number NEHU69L2303 and he was 2nd Fed. Next they won Ashford topping the Fed in the process, and followed that with 18th UNC Lillers, when the combine winner made a velocity of 895.9 ypm, beating 10,900 pigeons, not a bad start for them with three Club Wins in the strong Cornhill H S, and a 1st,2nd, & 3rd in the then old Sunderland Fed to back them up.
Since that excellent beginning they have gone on to Top the federation on innumerable occasions, and have never missed by claiming at least one win every season since then, with often several each year. In the 2016 season they won 10 x 1st feds, and 2017 it was 12 x 1st Federation, which gives you some idea of their consistency , and that haul of Federation Wins and many other very close up positions, enabled them to win THIRTY SEVEN UNC DIPLOMAS, and The Pigeon Sport Trophy in The Mighty Up North Combine in 2017, with highest total points from the 7 Classic Races, against the greatest birdages in the UK, repeating their triumph of 2016, and if that isn’t competing AT THE VERY HIGHEST LEVEL I don’t know what is.
The early pigeons were all of basic Busscheart breeding, and they performed brilliantly for the Lads, giving them their 1st Combine Winner in 1982 with Apache, however it was his nestmate The Tele Cock who carried the line forward. They then introduced the Van Loons, which produced Fluffy a great racer/breeder, with a touch of Jannsen in him. The Busschearts were re-introduced with a great little hen known as Miss Ali, and I don’t have to tell where she came from. That cross produced Iris their second Combine winner in 1996 a truly brilliant racer, and these lines produced the brilliant racer/breeder Popeye, and his line is still running through many of their current Stars. The next introduction of any consequence was Braveheart who topped the Combine from Andrezel, and he has gone on to produce both winners and breeders, and it was the Braveheart crossed with Stans Pride, that produced my favourite a superb Dark Hen named Helen, who won three great combine turns in one season, with a 5th, 7th, & 50th Open from Eastbourne, against our massive birdages, plus a 7th Open NEHU Open to the whole northeast, with over 26,000 competing flying 295 miles. Put to stock she too has hit the nail on the head, and her full sister bred this year’s 2nd UNC Roye, plus two other Federation Winners to put more icing on the cake. Alfie Hawthorn bred Champion Meg and she won 1st UNC Eastbourne, 1st NEHU with again over 26,000 birds competing, and she has crossed very well with one daughter winning 7th UNC Burbure.The more recent successful introductions are crosses from Colin Chapman, then Super Blue from Graham Jones/Peter Nee, plus three Leo Hereman Ceusters from Brian Johnson have won both pure and crossed, and a lovely hen from Curtis,Wall & Lunt has hit it off, and finally a super infusion from Ian Gibb with his Lambrrechts and Kittle line of Van der Bulck.
The Aim is and was to produce a golden thread from the cream, which will give the family a line of crack Racer/Breeders, produced by severe selection with only the Very Best going forward. That is basically the Woodroffe Strain as it stands today, crossing and then blending back in to the older originals using the very best specimans only.
The foodstuff used to obtain these performances is derived from two sources namely Verselaga and Van Robaeys via terry Knox. The feeding is balanced with Kevin Winters botanical products, with any other treatments
Kept to an absolute minimum, with the exception of Canker which is treated for on a monthly basis, plus general testing carried out three times a year. Apart from that all other forms of medication are avoided, to keep their families immune system as strong and healthy as possible. The racing team of OBs are exercised twice daily for 40 minutes, with the sexes flow out separately in the morning, then given a light feed and fresh water, with training tosses to reintroduce them to the basket, and hone their homing skills prior to racing, and then additional training as and when necessary, being fed by eye in the evening after exercise.
The Lads believe the loft plays an important part in any success they have had, and to that end the present loft hasn’t been touched for a year or two, as it suits the pigeons at this moment in time as the results prove, so wisely they have left it alone. The basic structure is timber with an outer covering of PVCu, both to the front and rear, with 12 small sets of louvres set low down along the front, but concealed by a low sloping section. The front roof is half covered with double poly carbon sheeting, which allows plenty of sunshine into the loft, and the warm air currents are vented by a gap along under the rear eves. A false ceiling with vents into the roof void, and opening windows in the front allows the loft to be varied internally to suit the weather, which can be very changeable and the loft location is fairly high, and exposed to the wind from any direction. There are 4 sections equipped with 16 Hermes nest boxes each, and two sections with only Vee perches, to suit which ever method of racing the Lads choose, either W/H or Roundabout, or Natural. During racing they are cleaned out twice a day, and no floor dressings are used and this keeps the dust level to a minimum. The new season always starts at the end of that years OB races, when the entire team are allowed to go down on eggs, until the YB racing finishes and once that is over the sexes are separated. During this period the bath is put on regularly, in wire cages on the OB landing boards, as the birds are kept in for the winter while the moult progresses. Then towards the end of the moult the entire loft is vaccum cleaned, then washed down with disinfectant, ready for the new season.
The section 4 of the UNC comprised FOUR FEDS in 2016, and the race programme saw the OB Inland Average won, and the YB Average too, which brought the Combined Average for all races to the Lads. The last season 2017 was even better, with the OB Inland, runner up for the Channel Average, followed again with the YB Average, to be Top Loft against FIVE FEDERATIONS, with the Combined Averages into the bargain, another truly OUTSTANDING SEASONS FLYING. However during those two seasons the section was only won ONCE in 2016, and TWICE in 2017 which really shows the strength of the opposition, you fly against in this powerful section, as there are some great fanciers within its ranks, who put their pigeons out in absolutely Top Condition. Enough Said.
The Mighty Up North Combine is acknowledged far and wide, as a very highly competitive organisation to raced your pigeons in, due to the strength of the competition and the geographical location, with its narrow east/west front. This in my humble opinion gives it the very tight races we experience, as the pigeons come racing home, and it makes for very exciting races, I know because I see it every week, and I will quote a few examples to prove my point.
The first Classic from Eastbourne saw the combine raise 18,257 birds, and the published result was filled in only 37.99 ypm drop in velocity, and this race saw the Lads put 8 pigeons in the first 200 Open, with 21st,34th,37th, 66th,92nd,142nd,145th,186th,all flying 295 miles. The NEHU run their Classic in conjunction with the 4 north east racing organisations, and this gave a turnout of 26,042 pigeons, and as the Union only publish the first 100 Open, its the devil take hindmost as these were squeezed it a 26.33 ypm drop in velocity, and the Lads managed to claim 22nd,35th,38th,67th,91st.
The first channel flown from Burbure saw a field of 13,268 competing, with the winner making 1907.46 ypm, while the pigeons at 250th was doing 1702.91 ypm, and unusual for the combine it took a 204.55 ypm drop in vel to cover the result. However the team performed again with 10th,32nd,59th,91st Open, in a rather gappy race, but they all count.
Then it was on to Roye a nice 400 miler, with 7,146 birds competing to claim 2nd,14th,31st,32nd, 133rd, with the first pigeon losing a lot of time and beaten by a whisker, but thats pigeon racing for you, and its no good crying over spilt milk, and that race was over in 74.21 ypm drop, which is superb for 400 miler. The Lads missed Bourges which was just as well, so it was on to Reims at 457 miles, with 4,193 birds at the race point, for a steady race when the winner made 1177.77 and the Lads timed for 32nd,33rd,64th,73rd, and this race was over in172.95 ypm drop for 250 pigeons, not bad on a stiff day.
The second inland Classic was diverted to Rivenhall due to the weather, and 12,356 birds were mustered for this race, which turned out to be a blinder for the Lads, with 4th,5th,7th,8th,
10th,22nd,32nd,34th,64th, positions won. Now I have been back checking back, and cannot find a result where one loft has put FIVE PIGEONS in the first 10 of the Open result before. That is one absolutely brilliant performance, and I watched them come, which was superb, and the full result was claimed in 47.83 ypm drop in velocity, on a 1300 yard day.
The final OB Classic was a return to Burbure with 10,689 birds competing, on a 2100 ypm day where the Loft won 64th,65th,142nd, when the combine winner recorded 2165.8 ypm, and the race was over in a drop of 77ypm, for another tight channel race.
The finale was the YB National with 11,055 birds competing , with the Winner making 1236.51 ypm, and the result was filled in 79.22 ypm drop in vel, which made it a great finish to the classics.
The YBs performed again with 16th, 62nd, 94th,109th to finish a Memorable seasons racing which I thoroughly enjoyed, however the final icing on the cake was winning ECC from both Rivenhall and the Maidstone YB National, which will helpwith the corn bill. But climbing up above the fence to spot the early birds, is becoming harder with the passing years, never the less I say roll on next season.
So on behalf of my Very Old Friends the Woodroffe Brothers, May I Wish You All The Very Best of Luck, for the coming season.