Tippler Talk

Jack Prescott's picture
Tippler Subject Category: 

(Internet Published) Jun 2000

Tippler pigeon contests, for duration of time on the wing started in and
around Sheffield England about 150 years ago. At the same time men from
other areas of England started up with Tipplers. The nearest hotbed area to
Sheffield was Macclesfield., only one hour in the rail train. Hence a
rivalry between the two old English towns. Many Sheffield men flew the Macs
(the Nick Name) for the Macclesfield Tipplers. With monotonous regularity, I
keep telling you all, that the word "Tipple" is an old dialect word meaning
"Fall" or "Tumble". Any visitor to Sheffield a district can soon find the
truth if he accosts a very very old man and who was born and raised here and
asks him what "Tipple" means. Don't ask the young folks, because they
wouldn't know and I doubt that they know "anything" anyway.

The true Mac has been unpopular for many years because several crosses were
made to improve them for time and flying into dark. Various suggestions
prevail as to what these crosses were but nobody really knows. The old
timers were born dabblers and experimenters. Many of these experiments
failed and there was a lot of secrecy in those days.
It is fair to say, that the "Mac" blood is in several good strains today,
but I do not believe that anyone flys them in pure form now, not for the
serious contests anyway and with "time" in mind.

The old timers were simple men, very often very poor men whose only
interests were home-spun hobbies and serious concern with small livestock.
Some of them made a little cigarette money out of stray catching but that is
the extend of their business ideas. They had a single minded approach and a
great determination to do better and better. No doubt, they were extremists
and fanatics. They certainly knew their birds and even the birds of their
fellow fanciers, locally.

Year after year these men would produce a few young ones and train them
carefully weeding out as they trained. They were quick to notice any
specimen that wasn't responding to their own methods. Such as these were
soon killed. By the time the young tippler contest started in July these men
would have a couple of kits fully trained. Just two contest, for each kit
and then those kits were locked up to preserve them for the old bird series
starting at Easter and ending with the Long Day Fly close to June 21st which
is our longest daylight date. Release 4 AM so that it was 10 PM when such
kits reached 18 hours, but still not dark at 10 PM.

The aim was to try and get a new record even with a few extra minutes. Many
attempts failed due to the owner being unable to get all of the kit down and
inside within the allowed 1 hour after his declaration to end his attempt.

A kit or kit member that defected was said to be ruined. Extreme nervousness
or even stupidity caused the failure of many good specimens that had done so
well in training or in previous contests. Too many training exercises too
many contest will ruin them all. Preservation, locking up the only access to
a large aviary was considered essential for the preservation of Tipplers
during the long period when no contest take place as I said "most of the

I have mixed feelings about the extended period of contests in USA even
including Fall and Winter contests. All OK, for the fun of it, but surely
all eyes should be on the main target the "Long Day Fly" and to take the US
record now 18:05. It'll take dedication. You won't do it by buying into some
old strain from some long dead Limey or even with Harry's Irish Delights.
Unless-- Unless-- you work with your birds, get to know them and take advice
from the top.

Now! This is the golden age of "good advice" and everybody is handing it
out. There comes a time when a man has to us his own brains and become
dedicated. No man ever did anything hanging on to another man's shirt tails
or walking in his shadow. Such people are puppets the "Charlie McCarthys" of
this world of which we have too many.