Sport and pasttime in wales

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Pigeon Racing

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Pigeon Racing

Pigeon fanciers outside the Globe Hotel, Graig, Pontypridd, c. 1900

Originating in Belgium in the nineteenth century, pigeon racing is a sport that involves the release of special racing pigeons at a predetermined location which then return to their homes.  The winning pigeon is determined by measuring the time it takes to cover the specified distance and the rate of travel is calculated and compared with all of the other pigeons in the race to ascertain which animal returned at the highest rate of speed.

Racing distances can be anything between 100km and 1000km and the pigeons can race from the age of six months onwards.  

The predecessors of modern-day racing pigeons, or homing pigeons as they are also known, were used to carry messages, particularly by the military.  During World War II nearly a quarter of a million birds were used by the armed forces.

Keeping pigeons, or pigeon fancying as it is known, was particularly popular in Wales among miners.  The pigeons were kept in the back yard and their owners took great pride in their upkeep with closely guarded feeding and training methods all designed to give their birds the edge in keenly contested races.

The sport of pigeon racing has been on the decline during the twentieth century.

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