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Monuments (15 dec)

Writers in pigeon magazines face two problems other writers do not have.

  1. Their articles are read by all kinds of people: uneducated folks and scientists, novices in the sport and great champions.
  2. The second problem is that people have different interests.

I make myself clear. One of the things which is real important in this sport is the environment of the birds or more specifically: the loft. A champion will not be interested in articles about the loft though. Why not? As he is successful his loft just must be good, there is no other way.

Other fanciers however who are not successful may wonder if the environment is to blame. Do they have a loft problem maybe? For those people articles about the environment (loft) may be very interesting. Another example: Coli or Adeno. If some one never heard about these diseases (he may praise the Lord) he won’t be interested to read about them. That is normal. But again this will be different if Coli or Adeno are a constant threat to his birds. In that case a fancier will probably read whatever he can in order to get information that might be helpful.

In Japan, America and Europe many fanciers are interested in names that are so great that they are part of the history of our sport. About some ‘Golden oldies’ I want to tell something in this issue and I apologise to those readers who are not interested.

The order is according to the Dutch alphabet and it is not my intention to be complete. In this sport you cannot draw a line such as: those are the great ones and those are not.

 Jan Aarden
Aarden is kind of symbol for many successes at long distance for both Dutchmen and Belgians in recent years. Lots of fanciers claim to have this bloodline. That the name ‘Aarden’ is often abused stands to reason. The origin of the Jan Aarden pigeons (he died in 1960) goes back to Delbar, Meesters, Dugguffroy, Barendrecht and Schouteren. The most famous pigeons he owned or that came from his loft were ‘Zilvervosje’ ‘86’, ‘38’ and his brother ‘49’. Indirectly also ‘Dolle van Geel’, ‘Aarden 1’ and ‘Aarden 2’. ‘Dolle’ won in 1974 12th National St Vincent (12.687 pigeons, 1,000 kilometres) in 1975 3rd National St Vincent (12.618 pigeons) and 3rd National Dax ( ?? pigeons). To talk or write about ‘the Jan Aarden strain’ as is done so often is nonsense. Jan Aarden never had a strain of his own. He was a man with money who bought pigeons everywhere and he was not a real successful racer either. His fame was spread by others who were successful with his birds. Aarden lived in the South of Holland, the so called ‘Steenbergen area’ that dominated the National and even International 2 day races for many years. That is why insiders do not talk about the ‘Jan Aarden strain’ but ‘the Steenbergen strain’.

In the same area lived big shots such as Jan Cools, Henk van Achtmaal, Antoon v d Wegen and Lazeroms. It is generally known that these people owe their fame to the fact that they could profit from the apples that fell from the Jan Aarden tree.

Jan Cools, van Achtmaal, v d Wegen, Lazeroms and so on were not only successful racers, also many others who got their birds performed very well. They said their birds were of the ‘Jan Aarden strain’. The fact however that there are dark checked, blue and even red ‘Jan Aardenbirds’ shows that we cannot speak about what we call ‘strain’.

 Jos van den Bosch
Our next ‘legend’ is Jos van den Bosch. He lived in the town of Berlaar and passed away in 1970. Also van den Bosch is one of those who put his mark on pigeon sport in general. His career started in 1907 when he was 13 years of age. Then his father bought him a splash hen from a great champion in those days (Staf de Win). This hen became the basis bird for Jos van den Bosch. Its most famous descendant is probably ‘De Vurige from 1958’.

A son of ‘de Vurige’ became grandfather of the world famous ‘Oude van den Bosch’ the cock of the sensational breeding pair of Meulemans. Janssen Bros always claimed to have imported successfully only one pigeon, their so called ‘Halve Fabry B-60-1000863’.

The grandmother of ‘Halve Fabry’ B-57-6327825 (‘Jong Prinsesje’) was bred by van den Bosch and this is interesting: A sister of ‘Jong Prinsesje’ was grandmother of the cock of Meulemans basic pair.

 So Meulemans had his ‘Oude Merckx’ (son of his basic pair) and in the same little town of Arendonk lived Janssen Bros who also had their ‘Oude Merckx (B-67-6282031) and…both birds carry the blood of ‘Prinsesje’ from van den Bosch.

The Golden Couple. One of the best breeding pairs ever. 

It was shortly after the war that the fame of the van den Boschbirds spread like wild fire. Not only Meulemans and Fabry went to van den Bosch to get birds but also Huyskens van Riel. They bought a complete round of eggs in 1946.

Huyskens van Riel were already great champions then but after having imported the van den Bosch birds they humiliated a whole country in such a way that they are often described as the greatest of all time. Both Janssen Bros, Meulemans and Huyskens van Riel had an enormous impact on the International pigeonsport. All three had the ‘Van den Boschbloodline’.

Describing the successes achieved by people who got birds from Janssens, Meulemans and Huyskens van Riel would be a never ending story.

Watching the arrivals of the birds at Huyskens van Riel

Pol Bostijn started his impressing career in 1932. He bought 31 birds then and killed 30 of them. Later on he traded birds with Stichelbout and Catrijsse among which descendants of the infamous ‘45’.  He also had the bloodlines of Oscar de Vriendt (offspring of ‘Zwartenband’), Descamps van Hasten and Labeeuw. So to the greatest of his time he went to improve the quality of his birds. The best (long distance) racers Bostijn had were probably:

 ‘Benoni’ (63-3278268):

A blue cock that won 1st prize International Pau in 1970, so as a 7 year old (!).  

‘Pasport’ (67-3296047):

A chequer that won 3rd International Pau in 1970 ans 6th International San Sebastian one year later.

 ‘Chico’ (74-3400228)

He won 1st National Brive in 1978, 1st National Argenton in 1976 and 2nd National Tulle in 1976.

Bostijn was not an easy going man. He was hard or even impudent to other people, but he was also hard for himself and his pigeons. If the birds were not very healthy by nature he did not hesitate for a moment to eliminate them. He paid much attention to the atmosphere in the loft which was, according to him, just as important as the quality of birds. The pedigree was considered as something of the greatest importance and completely meaningless at the same time. 1950 Was a remarkable year for Bostijn. He surprised the whole pigeon world by winning 1, 2, 3, 4 from National Pau. Never ever, before or after, did any one win the first four prizes National. Cattrijsse won the 5th prize in the same race which was so hard that not one bird could make it home on the day of release.

In pigeon sport every one has his favourites. Some consider Janssens as the best of all time, others Huyskens van Riel, others van Rhijn Kloeck and so on. But Bricoux certainly deserves a place in the top 10. This man with the big beard is often described as ‘the great pigeon teacher’ that is why his nickname was ‘the master’ He was a doctor by profession and was known as a great connoisseur of pigeons. In 1941 a Belgian magazine questioned the readers whom they considered the greatest champion in pigeon sport between 1919 and 1939.

Bricoux was elected as number one. For nearly a quarter of a century he was so outstanding that finally he was forbidden to enter birds in nearly all competitions. As he was an educated man he was often suspected of drugging his birds. He knew about that gossip but he did not care. Later it was said Bricoux was such a great champion as he was the first one to race pigeons on widowhood which he had always kept a secret.

 So it was Bricoux who is supposed to have invented this new method of racing birds, which was called widowhood later on.

 Of Dr Bricoux is also known that he was good friends with Sion, the best racer ever in France from whom he also got good birds. He did not believe in inbreeding, good pigeons you could only get by crossing he already said in those days. In 1940 when the world was on fire Bricoux was so scared that he went on the run. When he came back to see his birds some weeks later he found them all dead, killed by the French. Some friends gave him birds after this tragic incident but the good Lord had decided that Dr Bricoux’ time had come. He died shortly after. His son Arthur went on with the birds of his father’s friends for a while but without success and November 11th 1952 the Bricouxbirds were auctioned in Brussels.

The funny thing now is (and that is typical for pigeon sport) that in the 60-ies and 70-ies a German and some Americans showed up with what they claimed to be ‘pure Bricouxpigeons’. What pigeons they meant is unclear. Those of Bricoux were all killed, those of his son were not his.

Oscar (born in 1892 and passed away in 1964) and his brother Gerard (born in 1893 and passed away in 1969) were already in the sport in the beginning of the 20th century, so as kids. This is special as their father was not a pigeon man at all. In the 20-ies, when they were still young, they already had a great name. They got their basic birds from Jules van der Espt (a brother of the famous Charles van der Espt) in 1922 and from Ernest Casteleyn who had the Wegge and the v d Veldebirds. Casteleyn was a real superman but never got the fame he deserved. That is why he was called ‘the under estimated’ by Piet de Weerd.

Charles van der Espt is known as the man who taught the Catrijsses the ins and outs of this sport. Of the other birds that were imported later those of Commine and Devriendt and the inevitable Bricoux are the best known.

Catrijsses’ best pigeon ever was the ‘45’ (45-3886045) who won 1st National Bordeaux in 1947 and 1st National Angouleme in 1949. In 1949 a special National competition was organised by ‘Curegem’. It was a competition full of suspense till the last race. Catrijsse beat Oscar Devriendt who lived in the same little town of Moere, just some streets away from him. Also Casteleyn (‘the under estimated’) lived in the same little town of Moere.

An important basic bird of Catrijsse was also a Huyskens van Riel hen that they got from Hector Desmet but Catrijsse also got excellent pigeons from completely unknown fanciers.

Also Maurice Delbar, a manufacturer, played a leading part in International pigeon sport. His career lasted for over 60 years. He was already a ‘name’ before the first world war but his best pigeons he got later from a man called De Preter from Putte (where Flor Engels lives).

Delbar’s ‘Ballon’ (52-4116487) is probably his most famous bird but this does not necessarily mean his best. The great grandfather of ‘Ballon’, ‘De Kleine Geschelpte’ (32-4293562) for example, was far better than ‘Ballon’ himself. ‘De Kleine Geschelpte’ is one of the few birds in pigeon history that managed to win two National races in one year. Those were two races from Sint Vincent (900) kms in 1939. ‘De Kleine Geschelpte’ is described as ‘the best pigeon ever’ by P de Weerd and Gallez in their old books. His mother was a pure De Preter bird.

Winning two Nationals in one year is very exceptional indeed but the number of birds that participated (about 2,500) is not good enough to be described as ‘the best pigeon ever’. Delbar also got birds from Oscar Devriendt, Goossens, Hector Desmet, Portois, Charles van der Espt and so on, but as mentioned before his best racers originated from unknown De Preter and many of the Aces he had bred carried the blood of ‘de Kleine Geschelpte’.

So far some Golden Oldies. In another edition we will introduce more, not in the next, that would be too boring for readers who are not interested in the founders of our sport. In conclusion I will finish this chapter with an interesting item.


If you look at many great names of the past and check their location on the map you will find something interesting: Nearly all of them (Huyskens van Riel is one of the few exceptions) lived in the south of Belgium, so at the shortest distance from the release stations. Is this a coincidence? I do not believe so much in coincidences. You know what Hofkens, Grondelears, Louis van Loon, Meulemans and Janssen Bros who all lived or still live in the north (near the Dutch border) used to say?

 If fanciers such as Delbar, Catrijsse, Cobut, Desmet, Marc Roossens, v d Velde, Devriendt, Desmet Matthijs, Vanhee, Bostijn and all those others who have become famous all over the world would have lived in the North no one would ever have heard about them.

Do they say so because they are frustrated or is there some truth in their words? I do not know but it is a fact that Delbar became great with birds of an unknown fancier who lived in the North.

And it is also a fact that the great long distance names in Holland live in the south of the country too. It may be a coincidence but as I said: I do not believe very much in coincidences but more in facts and most facts have a reason. A good reason to be able to dominate long distance races is fly a shorter distance.

  • No cyclist cycles the 100 kilometres at a higher average speed than the kilometre.
  • No swimmers swims a kilometre at a higher average speed than the 100 meters.
  • No athlete runs the marathon at a higher average speed than the kilometre.We find this normal as we know the reason. So do many great names owe their fame to their location? I am afraid this will be obscure for ever.