Film ID: YFA 5710 Video of YFA_5710 Clegg's People: PIGEONS CLEGG’S PEOPLE: PIGEONS 1985 Visitor TabsDescription This is one of a series of themed documentaries titled Clegg’s People made by Yorkshire Television and featuring Michael Clegg visiting places and interviewing people. The series ran from the 1980s into the 1990s. In this programmes Clegg meets a club of racing pigeon owners based in the village of Lofthouse, West Yorkshire, and witnesses a race. The film begins with Clegg holding a pigeon while recounting something of the history of the relationship between pigeons and humans. The pigeon fancier, Jack Sheldon, and his wife are in the village shop they run in the village of Robin Hood, near Wakefield. Jack is secretary of the local pigeon racers group and a prize winning fancier. Jack shows Clegg his pigeon loft at the back of the shop, which he is mucking out, and some of the different varieties of pigeons. He explains that keeping pigeons has been in the family for generations, and that he has been involved since he was 12 years old. He has many generations of pigeons, and he explains the importance of being consistent in the time that he releases the pigeons and feeds them, not allowing them to get too fat, and keeping them in good health. Jack puts some pigeons, some old and some young, into a basket, and then drives them to the local pigeon racers group with its headquarters at the Lofthouse Athletic Club. Here they gather around to have their pigeons tagged, or ringed, with rubber bands put on with a machine. All the baskets of pigeons are loaded onto a lorry and driven off to Leicester. Jack, as President of the club, organises the setting of the clocks. Clegg explains that 60,000 to 70,000 pigeons are raced in Yorkshire, and 350,000 nationwide. He states though there are various theories, nobody knows how the pigeons manage to find their way back home. Back at the club the clocks are sealed. In Leicester three lorry loads of pigeons, also from Wales and the West Midlands, are released simultaneously. Clegg talks to one elderly pigeon racer who regularly comes from Wallingford, 143 miles away, to watch the release. He states that sometimes the birds go astray, and when are found they are brought near to where they come from and released again. Back home Lack waits for his pigeons to arrive. When they do so, he lures them into the loft with food, takes off their rings, and registers these in the clock. He then takes this back to the club where the other racers have also gathered. They swap clocks and read out the results, and then calculations are made before the four winners are read out. They shake the hand of the winner. Then they have a pint in the bar, joined by Clegg who has a chat with several of them about the race and the film ends. End Credits: Presented by Michael Clegg Cameraman – Brian Wilson Sound Recordist – Kevin Quirk Dubbing Mixer – Alan Bedward Production Assistant – Tricia Robertshaw Researcher – Pennina Barnett Film Editor – Alwyn Jones, John Lyon Graphics – Trevor Hodgson Director - Peter Jones Producer - Mark Meysey-Thompson Editor – David Lowen Yorkshire Television Ltd 1985 Yorkshire Television Production Context One West Yorkshire club of pigeon fanciers, based at the Lofthouse Athletic Club (now The Royale Restaurant), gets the Clegg treatment, with his usual easy manner, as part of his 1980s series with Yorkshire TV. Club President, Jack Sheldon, talks about his passion for racing pigeons, and then joins his fellow fanciers with their pigeons at the club. Here he sets the clocks, and the birds are driven 130 miles away to fly back home, before back at the club to announce the winner. Michael Clegg was a naturalist, former columnist at the Yorkshire Evening Post, and a regular on BBC Radio 4's Natural History Programme. Born near Barnsley, Clegg was an early campaigner for wildlife sites. Racing pigeons – also known as homing pigeons and carrier pigeons – are derived from the rock pigeon, selectively bred to find its way home over long distances, up to 1,100 miles, which the average feral pigeon is unable to do. No-one knows for sure how they manage this: theories range from using the sun, magnetism, smell, sound and visual landmarks. Although pigeon racing is associated with northern men in flat caps, it is a worldwide sport, with 500,000 fanciers in Taiwan, as against 43,000 in Britain.