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The Osman Strain of Racing Pigeons...
Author: Liam O ComainTitle: The Osman Strain of Racing Pigeons
Date: 2005-03-19 23:16:55Uploaded by: webmaster
The Osman surname has been associated with the sport of racing pigeons since the birth of the sport in Britain. Not only with its practical aspects including racing, administration, etc., but from this family came the oldest racing pigeon publication in the world which is still going strong today that is 'The Racing Pigeon'. But they have other publications to their credit including a monthly magazine the 'Racing Pigeon Pictorial International' as well as other books on the sport. Then of course there is the association with the annual 'Old Comrades Show'. However in this article I would like to recall the origins and some feats of this carefully bred strain.

Initially I would like to recall an incident when I attended a pigeon auction in the Orange Hall at Glenavy, Co. Antrim, shortly after my return to the sport about two and a half years ago. Whilst there I got into a conversation with a number of fanciers from Co. Down who were discussing British pigeon families. Upon introducing ourselves one of the participants referred to my name rather more in ignorance than prejudice with the usual question 'What is it in English?'; he changed the subject slightly when I asked him 'Would you ask the Russian author Solinizin to translate his name for you if he was here?' With no response to my question he hurriedly translated 'Liam' as William referring to its diminutive as 'Billy' and asked us if we had ever heard of 'Old Billy'. Some had, some hadn't, but the translator proceeded to outline the life of one of the most famous pigeons ever to be born in Europe. The incident which I recall confirmed that amongst the racing pigeon fraternity there is a wealth of knowledge some fact, some fictional, some a combination of both, which ensures the continual presence in ones memory of a famous pigeon or fancier.

The Osman's from which 'Old Billy' came were a strain whose members were of medium size and whose colours were mainly red chequer and mealy. They descended initially from birds obtained from fanciers such as Oliver, Cottell, Stanhope, Harris and J.W. Barker. It was carefully bred to the line via the father but crosses were introduced via well-tried hens of impeccable long distant bloodlines. It would cross well with other strains especially the Logan's and the Git's. In fact in the creation of his strain the founder carefully bought for many years the best representatives of Gits, Rey and Vassart from Belgium plus as a good friend of Logan he obtained fine specimens from the latters family. One of the latter was a mother of 'Revived Hope' a famous Osman pigeon.

Now 'Old Billy' who was less well known as '59' was a mealy cock whose genes permeated I believe every bird of the Osman family for generations. His sire was bred in 1885 and was a blue chequer cock known as 'No. 35' which was bred by James Harris and derived from the Belgian bloodlines of a Mr. Pescher whereas his mother was a J.W. Barker mealy hen born in 1886.

'Old Billy' in due course fathered 'Mumpy', 'Mortification', and 'Blue Bell' among others. The latter named being winners from Arbroath, Thurso, and Lerwick respectively. It was then in due course that 'Old Billy's' blood via his grandsons 'Wanstead Wonder' and 'Forlorn Hope' progressed the family. The latter being landmark pigeons in the history of British strains. 'Forlorn Hope' as a breeder was responsible for many winners worldwide. As a racer he was 2nd Perth, 1st Thurso, 23rd Thurso, 8th Lerwick, etc.. He was approximately 18 years old when he died and the passing of this dark red chequer cock was a cause of much sadness in the Osman's circle. 'Wanstead Wonder' also won many races including 1st Thurso and a pigeon from 'Forlorn Hope' named 'Revived Hope' (as above) won 1st Federation from Lerwick in 1913 and again in 1914. The latter was a very hard race and 'Revived Hope' reflected the strains example in hard bad weather races.

Yes the Osman's for its founders and hundreds of fanciers world-wide got going when the going was tough so to speak.

In America as in Britain and indeed in Ireland there are still fanciers who claim to have Osman bloodlines today and who race well especially showing a consistency when the odds are terribly opposed to them weather wise. Although since my return to the sport I must say that I have not saw a modern representative of the strain in the flesh (or the feathers). This arises however from my lack of practical experience since my return but I have no doubt that I will be hearing of their whereabouts for since taking up the pen as a scribe numerous emails and phone calls have opened up the door of pigeon information and knowledge. In the meantime I hope my article however modest recalls if not for the younger at least for the older generation the memory of a pivotal strain moulded by a master in the history of the sport in England and Britain.

Liam O Comain

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