Flying Tippler. its origin and development. (Job Ofield 1932)

To the working man who desires to stay at home and is fond of pigeons as a hobby, there is no more fascinating breed well within the purse for such an one than the flying tippler.

Although there is nothing on record as to its origination it is generally believed to have had its source at rainbow, about 2 miles from Macclesfield. Mr Pownall, of that town, verifies this in a statement that there is a painting of Flying Tipplers which was executed somewhere about 70 years ago and that he personally remembers his father keeping blues, greys, and bronzes nearly black 50 years ago. He does not remember such birds as badges, bald pates or reds and yellows appearing in the pure Tippler, and when white was present it was generally on the shoulders- the heads and tails remaining coloured the longest, no matter how you bred, until they came with mixed tails and flights, tickets heads with pure white bodies.

This was the type of bird as i first new it. Of a medium size, not too long or short beak, not full forehead, pearl eye, good shoulders, short keel, body well set and tapering down to the tail. Clear legs, not too long, and small red feet. Flights broad, coverings well up and extending to about three quarters of an inch from the end of the tail. The position as the Tippler stood was in a rather crouching attitude with legs slightly bent as if ready to spring off. This bird was in my opinion, the pure Macclesfield Flying Tippler. For style and high flying he was superb, and there is nothing finer, in my estimation, on a nice summer day than to see a kit of birds right up in the `blue’, turning and raking the sky, the sun catching their wings as they do so, as if flashing a message back to earth.

In later years these birds have been crossed with other types of light fliers such as tumblers, wests, cumulets &c., to develop more staying powers. This has had a detrimental effect on the action of the bird, besides somewhat altering his appearance. I find that in 1870 the late Mr George Smith, of Nottingham kept High Flying Tumblers, as Tipplers were unknown in that town, also at Leicester. These birds were the old Mr. Crouch breed and they used to fly 5 or 6 hours at a stretch, but with so much tumbling that it knocked all the life and energy out of them.

The fanciers of that time were just as anxious to fly their birds as long as they do now, but they had not the class of birds to do it, neither were the birds trained to the best advantage. The dropping places were not taken into consideration-in fact many of them had no regular system. Sometimes they flew their birds early in the morning and sometimes in the evening. However as years rolled on fanciers became more enlightened, for they did all they could to breed the tumbling out of their birds. This was done by disposing of all the heavy workers each year, until they got a class of birds which would only single tumble. This made a wonderful difference to the time flown. The long time flying has helped to get rid of the Tumbling properties, for the same breed could a few years afterwards be seen flying eleven or twelve hours without a single tumble.

Macclesfield Tipplers were unknown in the Midlands until 1875, when some of the late Mr. Williams Jolly`s breed found they way to Nottinghamshire. These were a class on their own- broad flights and short legs- quite different to the type that had their origination in Tumblers. Still with these pure Macs the fanciers could not beat the Tumbler`s time and when any competition took place, it was on the Tumblers that they pinned their faith.

The Leicester fanciers took up the fancy about the same time and they experienced the same difficulty. However eventually the Tumbler`s time was beaten and after this the Tipplers became great favourites.

There was also a wonderful High Flier which came from Burslem and Congleton, but it was so lightly built that it could not stand rough weather. AS these birds were spread throughout England they were crossed with the non-tumbling Tumbler, which improved their flying powers immensely.

I am under the impression that there are not many of the old pure Macclesfield and Congleton Tipplers left now, except those which have been kept for breeding purposes and for other than competition work.

Then there were the birds from Lincoln, know as the Lincoln Crazy breed. Some of the colours were Blue ans some Silver. They are the birds with a wonderful wing action which is quite a butterfly style of their own. Some of this breed are very small and in about 1900 a large number were purchased by the Sheffield Fanciers for crossing purposes. They are very light on the wing, and anyone watching them flying might imagine from the vibration of their flight feathers that their wings were made of india-rubber. Each stroke they take seems to spring them up considerably, but only nice weather suits them.

I have mentioned the Leicester Tipplers as coming to the fore-front about the same time as the Nottingham birds. In fact about 1896 there were quite a few exchanges between the fanciers of these 2 towns. The Nottingham men went to leicester and brought away all the non-tumbling Tumblers they could lay there hands on, when the Leicester fanciers had condemned them, but not before the Leicester fanciers had laid the foundation of their 17-hour strain. The Leicester fanciers appear to have kept to their old breed of Tipplers of years ago, when such men as Ross, Beechy, Holland, Brindley, &c., were at their best; in fact i think that to day to possess a bird of any of the above strains is an acquisition to any loft. They still appear to be a handsome variety of big, strong birds-chiefly light ones, with dark neck markings down to the chest, and have, for many years, shown their long enduring qualities for competition flying. They flay at a good height, with some good raking tendencies. A bird i would say with the combination of the old Mac and the present Sheffielder.

The Sheffield bird is a bird to be admired for its long staying powers of flight: the holder of all the records, both young and old bird flying. A bird you have to reckon with, no matter in which town you live, or what part of the country you may be flying in during a National Competition.

You or your club-mates may have `done good times’ with a possibility of winning, but when the final times are given if you have not reckoned with Sheffield, well, you soon have to.

What is it that makes the Sheffielders so consistent in winning? There are 3 reasons, the first, in my opinion is `condition geographically’, for in some parts it is not a matter of getting the birds to rise, as the winds are such that given a right day, they sweep along the valleys, and virtually lift the birds up, making it difficult to drop them. Again, the fanciers living in the lower valleys may have a bad day for flying, but the conditions for the fanciers on the hills would be ideal and vice versa. Hence if one club or fancier fails, it is only to the advantage of another.

The Second reason is their systematic method of training. I have left Sheffield at night in a train, and have watched the sunset behind the hills, and when everywhere seems in darkness, you can still see that red glow. The Sheffield fanciers make the most of this sunset, and i have seen birds turned out to fly when in other parts of the country all hope of getting them in would have long since passed. So from my argument concerning the light, i have had birds flying in twilight which i have failed to drop, and i have watched them go, following the light northwards towards Mansfield and Chesterfield. These birds have been stamped and i have recovered them on hearing of their capture, but i have never recovered one from the south. This systematic training in darkness is very prevalent in Sheffield, and one invariably finds that the winner at some big `fly’ is the fancier who has carried on the longest in the dark.

The last of the 3 reasons is the good fellowship and healthy competition that exsists at Sheffield. Such being the case, there i no room for a bad bird in any of their lofts. The type of bird generally kept is not one that would appeal to everybody.

The Sheffield bird is most different to the Macclesfield type. It is a bird of all colours- Reds, Blues, Blacks, Yellows, Badges, Chequers, etc. They are not over big, in fact i once saw a kit at Mr. Moreton`s going through their training, which were positively smaller that the breed of Silvers.

They are close feathered birds, small framed, long beaked, a short keel, and always hungary, which makes them very tame. This type of bird which is most easily controlled, will fly high at periods, but generally settles down after a while to a height of calling distance from their owner.

These birds are greatly used for competition flying, and with their flying low, the longer they fly are much safer for the last hour on the dark than their comperes the Light Print, which would have risen higher and higher as darkness came on.

The late Mr. Jack Cockayne of Walkley Club Sheffield held the world`s record for old birds-these were 3 cocks. I believe 2 were blue and one black, these he flew 19 hours 35 minutes on june 5th 1922.

The world`s record for young birds is also held by a Sheffield fancier, this being Mr Jack Holland, of Crooks Tippler Club. This was flown in August 1932, when Mr Holland`s bird`s flew 17 hours winning the N.T.U and A.E young bird cups putright and beating his own record of August 1927 of 16 hours 56 minutes.

Of late there has been a tendency of the Sheffield fanciers to take the Light Print in favour of the coloured bird. Here again the many little winter shows held there is in no way responsible for this, as on staging the birds the Light Print owners have been most successful and as most of these shows are run on the sweepstake basis, other fanciers are keen to follow suit.

Whether they will be able to fly and control the Light Prints as well as they have done their colours, remains to be seen, but i know of one or two who have achieved success namely, J. Whitely and Sam Billingham.

With the increasing popularity of the showing side of the Flying Tippler it has unfortunately left itself open to the introduction of other breeds for the so called improvement.

As we have the introduction of the Homer, the West and non-performing Tumbler into the flying bird, so with the showing, we have the crossing of the pure Light Print with the English Owl, the Self Tumbler, the Damascene, and the Antwerp Smerle. The chief two of these are the English Owl and the Self Tumbler. So clever is this cross done that it is possible with only the first cross with the English Owl to send the progeny of the same to shows and `be in the money’. Still to make sure, this bird is crossed with the Self Tumbler and the deceit is complete. The first time i came across this type of bird i failed to discern the difference, and a Light Print got `into the money’ and a Grizzle being fourth.After the judging was over these birds were pointed out to me, and i carefully examined them for future observations.

At my next show where i had the honour to place the cards, i picked every bird out and then put them down.

With some fanciers, the cry is for a standard, but this is only possible in a manufactured bird, although i must admit that before long the fancy will have to accept a breed known as The Exhibition Flying Tippler. This bird would be bred to standard such as one gets from the Owl Tumbler cross, and which only gets favour over the flier or pure `Mac’ by variety pigeon judges. Thus we shall have the Show Tippler, the Flying Tippler and the Exhibition Flying Tippler.

Some will say, well how is the cross brought about? I have mentioned the birds used, but what are they, cocks or hens? I did not intend giving the cross away in order to keep the Tippler pure, but as it is already among us, if i do not give the information it can be readily obtained.

First of all, one must get a good young Light Print Cock and mate it up to a Blue English Owl Hen. This produces a Grizzle, red in the eye, slightly ruffled front, arched neck, a shortened face, a good big body and a big cere. Now take a cock off this pair, and mate to a blue long-faces Self Tumbler hen. This lengthens the face, gives the pearl eye, reduces the cere, gives a good frontal, pulls the neck in slightly, and there you have a Grizzle fit for showing. Now if you pair the Light Print Cock you used in the first instance to a daughter of the first cross and Self Tumbler, the chances are that you will get a Light Print bird in each nest of two, and these are the birds that take much detecting. If one os careful of his periods of mating, the whole period of this cross can be brought about in 2 seasons.

J.Ofield, 1932