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J.W. Logan - the wild Irishman...
Author: Liam O ComainTitle: J.W. Logan - the wild Irishman
Date: 2005-01-10 16:42:24Uploaded by: webmaster
JW LoganAlthough a man of many interests John W. Logan was destined to become the pioneer of distance pigeon racing in England. It was the late scribe and Logan specialist who wrote under the pseudonym of 'Old Hand', S.W.E. Bishop, the original editor of the 'Pigeon Racing Gazette', who referred to Logan as 'the wild Irishman'. Well it’s not the first time that persons of Irish blood or association have contributed to the culture and the sport of other lands. And what better area of contribution than the sport of pigeon racing in the land of the rose.

Of course because of the close proximity of the two nations the land of the shamrock or the harp would also reap the rewards emanating from the stamina and the endurance of 'The Logans'. For many a fine representative of the strain flew hundreds of miles through all elements including crossing the English channel and the Irish sea to win for their proud owners in Ireland.

John Logan was a man of immense wealth and influence based upon his role as a master of engineering of which his hand is seen in some of the most important engineering feats in Britain of the nineteen century. In fact his success at this aspect of human endeavour as time progressed saw him elected eventually to the House of Commons. A role which as an MP he performed like all his many other interests to the best of his ability.

By all accounts Logan was a unique individual. As to his beginnings in the sport of pigeon racing it is believed that this was in approximately 1870 when there were none or very few long distant pigeons in England. But once he was hooked so to speak Logan would have attempted to move mountains on behalf of the sport as well as establishing the United Counties Flying Club and ultimately becoming Chairperson of the English National Flying Club. Yes, in those formative years of the sport he was often referred to as a person of immense importance. In fact at that fledgling period he was looked upon as the leader of the sport in England if not in Britain.

And along with the late Colonel Osman the founder of another great English strain Logan founded the British based 'Racing Pigeon Weekly'. But in creating in due course England's number one strain where did Logan procure the foundations of the latter?

In the nineteen hundreds an Englishman by the name of Northrop Barker from Yorkshire had settled in Belgium and raced so well in the sport there that he was second to the great Grooters of worthy fame.

The astute Logan had been observing Barker's achievements for sometime and in 1878 he surprised many by buying out the latter's loft and bringing them to England. He then as an original thinker sold most of the old birds ensuring that he got quite a number of their offspring back crossed with pigeons from those whom he had sold the young birds too. The latter with other purchases for example input from the Gits, Hansenne, Tofts, Blampain, Soffle, Dardenne, and Goosens were the foundations and the blocks of the Logan strain. With a millionaire revenue Logan bought other outstanding birds although some others he failed to obtain in fact he once offered Gits a pair of the best carriage horses in England for two of the latter’s best birds but was refused. He did obtain one outstanding champion and that was 'Rome 1' which he purchased from Gasper Heutz and which was the leading pigeon in the 1878 Rome race, appearing ultimately in the bloodlines of Logan's 'Old '86'. The latter bird, 'Old '86' was born in 1879 and in 1882 flew Arras; 1883 3rd from Rennes; 1884 1st from Rennes and also flew La Rochelle; then in 1886 1st Ventnor; 1st Rennes and 1st La Rochelle. Outstanding victories in an era when the transport of the pigeons was an obstacle to their form and health. Surely one of the great racing pigeons of all time was 'Old '86'.

Apparently Logan was a hard but fair taskmaster and was known to have killed off many birds in the build up of his strain. As an advocate of careful crossing the evidence from his time confirms that he was extremely careful and this appears to be part of his genius for otherwise no successful strain would have evolved without this factor. An important aspect of his breeding method was the pairing of an outstanding Cock with two outstanding hens and then to pair the offspring of the initial matings. Many successes arose from this method.

His family of racers were very game and definitely of long distance par excellence. And as they were based upon many strains the Logans were noted to be good crossers with any other strain or family. But like some other strain founders inspite of their successes and there were many the development of the strain were helped by others like the late S.W.E. Bishop whose family in due course were labelled 'Bishop's Logan's'. The latter development is nothing new in the sport for it took other breeders who in a sense were masters in the art and the science of pigeon breeding and racing to develop the dynasties. As if the founder of a strain was but the seed setter but others were necessary for the nurturing and the fruition of the original work. The latter is true to a certain extent as one can see in the development of the Aardens and the Stichelbauts for example.

It is to be noted that one of Logans famous hens '1826' won 8th and 1st in the English NFC National in successive years at a distance of 640 miles. The latter outstanding racer proved also to be a good breeder. Rome 1st was in her bloodlines as well as another of Logan's finest breeders '129'. Also '1826' bloodlines are found in the great 'Twilight' of world renown and of latter times.

The record of results which I have encountered in researching the background for this article are too numerous to mention; but apparently between 1877 until 1886 J. W. Logan experienced continual success at both racing and breeding with the family which he created. And in due course the Logans cultivated by others such as the above-mentioned Bishops, and to include Shearing, etc., added to the onward march of the dynasty which has established the strain forever in the folklore of pigeon racing. That is as it should be for there is no doubt in the mind of this writer that the Logans were on a par with the best of distant strains from the European mainland. Thus the 'wild Irishman' if he had accomplished nothing else in his lifetime has left his undoubtable mark on the history of the sport of European pigeon racing.

Liam O Comain

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