This film is part of Free

Our Feathered Friends

The expertise and passion of a typical post-war working class hobby is seen in all its grainy glory in this film of northern pigeon fanciers racing their pigeons, and on to the pub.

Non-Fiction 1950 17 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Yorkshire Film Archive


In the post-war period pigeon keeping flourished, and here we have a pigeon fancier demonstrating the ease he has with his birds. Members of a local West Yorkshire club in the 1950s transport their prized racers in cages far afield by train, and quickly return back to record their time. Then to the pub to compare the results and award prizes to our feathered friends.

Little is known of the maker of this film, Derrick Walton, other than that he made some 90 odd amateur films during the 1950s and ‘60s. These include various motoring events in Yorkshire, and filming his children’s birthdays right through their childhood. But presumably this is Walton at home with his pigeons. Keeping racing pigeons became a mass working class hobby in the early 1900s. Pigeons were used extensively during the two world wars for carrying messages: over a quarter of a million pigeons in the last war. After the war the hobby of racing pigeons really took off – there are no records of exact numbers. This has declined substantially since, though the Toulet timing clock seen here is still used by some.