Terry Winterton

Written by George Wheatman on .

Terry Winterton – NRCC


One of the most consistent fanciers in the North Road Championship Club is Terry Winterton, of Fleet Fen, near Holbeach, in Lincolnshire, a man with more than 50 years experience in pigeon racing.

He is especially noted for his results from the distance races, particularly from Lerwick where he has been within a whisker of winning the coveted Kings Cup when he finished second in the 70s He competes in the strong Section Four, and his major results in NRCC racing this year were: Perth – 2 and 31 open, 2 and 10 section; Arbroath – 19 and 132 open, 4 and 24 section; Lerwick – 6, 7 and 42 open, 5, 6 and 13 section; Thurso – 118 open, 9 section.

It was, however, in 2013 that he had one of his best-ever seasons with section wins from Fraserburgh, Lerwick,Thurso and Berwick young birds, plus plenty more healthy section and open positions. He also dominated the distance races, and averages, in the Peterborough and District Federation where his club, Sutton Bridge, is usually prominent in the results.

This was a season of high achievement which deserved more accolades and publicity than it received, mainly as a result of my own unforgiveable laxity. So here is a belated attempt to put the spotlight on a man whose performances over the years will have been the envy of many.

Although he has enjoyed many wins since starting in the sport as a schoolboy, and has had many excellent birds in his loft, Terry attributes much of his recent success to a pigeon he calls Pure Pleasure – for the obvious reason that it is a pigeon that has given him a great deal of pleasure with its numerous wins and, now, its ability to turn out winners from the stock loft. . . the type of pigeon that many of us can only dream about.

Winner of the section from Fraserburgh in 2013 was a Soontjen x Janssen, a grandson of Pure Pleasure who won 16 individual races and created a dynasty of children and grandchildren to continue the winning trend.

terry winterton 2014

Terry Winterton, centre, with his club mates


Speaking of Pure Pleasure, Terry says: “If you counted up his firsts, with all organisations, it was something like 26. I think he won the section in the Federation nine times. He was born in 2006. He is in the stock loft and keeps churning out good birds. He was not just a good racer, but is also breeding good pigeons.

“While I was racing him he was paired to one particular hen because I daren’t part him while he was doing so well racing.

“Once he kept winning, I only sent him as far as Perth. Until he had started to win, I had never bred from him, and the first two I bred off him, a nest pair of cocks, one won seven firsts – and his father beat him a few times – and the nest-mate won three. I have still got them and they are in the stock loft now.

“They are the basis of a nice family. They are all toeing the line. The first year I put Pure Pleasure to stock, I took a son off him and paired that to one of my long distance Lerwick pigeons and, off that mating, that is where my Lerwick section winner came from in 2013.

“The team has evolved from pigeons I acquired from the North East several years ago.”

The Fraserburgh section winner in 2013 was a blue cock bred in 2010.

Said Terry: “I have 20 widowhood cocks, and then I have nine hens from which I try to sort some out for Lerwick. I fly a bit of a roundabout system with them, and then just pair them up for Lerwick.”

Always a consistent competitor, Terry believes that 2013 was one of his best-ever seasons, with four section wins in the NRCC being the highlight, and also winning the old bird average and the combined average in Peterborough and District Federation.

“Mostly I am slow to get going, and I had a slow start to the NRCC season,” said Terry. “I think I prefer that because you don’t want to burn them out too early. It is the longer ones where you need a bit left in them. I don’t think you can do both. Even on my system of widowhood, I think that once you get to Lerwick they start going downhill.”

The 2013 Lerwick section winner was a 2011 chequer hen, sitting about 12 days. The sire was Pure Pleasure and the dam was a very good hen that had been to Lerwick before, and was a full sister to the one that bred my section winner from Lerwick in 2011.

“Just recently I have been trying to get them a bit quicker from Lerwick even.

“Usually I like to send some hens paired up for Lerwick, and also pick out one or two widowhood cock birds but, with Fraserburgh being a bit of a tough race, I decided not to send any cocks to Lerwick,” said Terry, reflecting on that 2013 season.

“I just sent four hens, and had two decent ones on the results. All four I sent were two-year-olds.

“They go quite regularly to races for a start because, while they are on roundabout, you have to keep sending them otherwise they pair up. So I keep them going and then just miss them out a week before Lerwick.

“I usually make a slow start to the season, but I prefer that because you don’t want to burn them out too early. It is the longer races where you still want a bit left in them.

“Lerwick is one of those races I always try to enjoy, if that is possible. I look forward to that, and it is only once a year.

“I exercise the cock birds around home twice a day, but my hens, they don’t fly so much. I can’t get them to fly round home so much, that is why I send them regularly to races. I don’t train in between races, only the hens on leading up to Lerwick. They go nearly every day in the week before basketing for Lerwick if I can do it.

“My 2013 Thurso winner was half and half again. Half my sprint pigeons and half my Lerwick pigeons, a 2011 chequer cock bird.

“Thurso completed a good old bird season, and then came the young bird national when I put three in the clock. I don’t usually put too many in the clock because I don’t use ETS. I have been flying to this loft for several years and I don’t want to alter it. I use open door trapping, more or less for the young birds as well as the old birds. I just poddle along the same old way.”

In the NRCC young bird race from Berwick in 2013, Terry took the first three places in his section, plus sixth, and was 18, 43, 52 and 91 in an open result dominated by an outstanding performance from Ray Knight and Sons, of Old Leake, something which they repeated this season although just missing out on first place.

“The first four young birds were all hens, and they are down from Pure Pleasure. I knew they were keen. I did not send them the week before to Whitley Bay, I held them back. In my opinion Whitley Bay is too far, if you get a sticky day, to get the best out of your pigeons from Berwick.

“I fly some of my young birds on darkness and some on natural. I split my team to 20 birds on each system. The following year I do prefer, myself, the pigeons that have moulted naturally. I think there is a little bit taken out of the darkness pigeons getting them through the moult.

“Section Four is the biggest section and, if there is a lot of west in the wind I am not in a good position, but one thing sometimes in my favour is that I am one of the shorter flyers.

“I had a good season in 2013, probably my best ever, but I don’t think I did anything different than in others seasons. I followed my usual routine.

I started racing 40 young birds and finished up with 39, and the previous year I finished up two or three short. That is racing. I do lose one or two training. My young birds do get extensively trained. I normally start a month before the first young bird race, and they go training whenever possible. I go nearly every day if I get the chance and build them up. I go up to Horncastle, which is about 30 miles. That is more possible now that I am retired. Once I am racing I just go twice a week.

“At the end of the season I don’t do anything much at all with them, just try to get them through the moult, let them out on odd days for a bath, just a quiet time really.

“I don’t normally pair up until late January or early February.

“I used to be a potato buyer for Spalding Potatoes. I used to travel around Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. I used to cover a lot of miles. I did that for about 33 years.

“When I was preparing my hens for Lerwick I used to take them to Cambridge regularly when I was working that way. They had a 30-mile toss back to their breakfast and that was it until I got home. That worked well, really. For six or seven days, every morning they went to Cambridge.

“There is no doubt I enjoy NRCC racing. My club is Sutton Bridge and we have about 12 members, and it is one of the strongest clubs in the Federation.

“I have flown with Spalding in the past when they had a membership of 80, and you had to go on a waiting list and only got in if somebody else dropped out. That was in the 70s, so it just shows how things have changed.

“Pre-season I normally give my widowers four or five tosses before they go to a race, nothing too much. I find that if you train them too hard, they will die off too quick. That is why I am not too concerned about the first three or four races.

“I started with pigeons when I was still at school. My loft and John Lensen’s (John is another successful NRCC member and winner of Section Four from Berwick young birds this summer) used to be about 30 yards apart. We grew up in Gedney. We have always been good friends. When we first started we purchased a clock between us, one of the old toulets, and we used to set it in the middle of the garden and the one who got the pigeon first used to run to it. I was about 14 then and have never been without pigeons since, and I am 72 now.

“John and I played semi-professional football, sometimes for the same team, but not always, because we moved about a bit.

“My old bird loft is 18ft x 8ft, and my young bird loft is 16ft x 8ft, which is split into two sections, and I have a stock loft which is 12ft x 8ft, and then I have a roundabout loft where I keep my hens and that is 12ft x 8ft.

“I suppose my team of pigeons now is as good as any I have had, because I have more time now. I like to try to bring a hen in every couple of years, but it is hard to bring in a bird that can help me. I have brought some in during recent years and they have not measured up.

“You have to keep trying, otherwise your loft can get too inbred. On one side my family is Soontjen and Janssen based, but on the other side I have some Jan Aarden and Van Bruane which I have had for 30-odd years and they are the real distance pigeons.

“I bought a Jan Aarden from Massarellas years ago, about 30 years ago, and I had some good pigeons from that, and then I had a hen from a chap who had the Van Bruanes for years, AH Bennett, of Church Stretton. I did buy a granddaughter of his King’s Cup winner, and that bred me no end of winners. Consequently I have kept the basis from there.

“After a few years of flying odds and sods you realise that you need something different. I bought some Kirkpatricks from Rob Wright when he lived at Swineshead (Rob won the NRCC Kings Cup from Lerwick in 1974 after he had moved to Bourne). I had a motor bike then, and I went there because he had advertised some birds for sale. He had four left to sell but I could only afford two, and he gave me the other two. He was a lovely man, a real gentleman. In 1970 I had a pigeon that was second open in the King’s Cup and that came, on one side, from one of the pigeons I had from him. That was one of my best results – you can only go one better, can’t you?

“Of course, that is something I would love to win. When you have been flying for more than 50 years and have not won it, it seems a bit of a bitter pill. You set your goals . . .

“I use widowhood mix mainly, Versele Laga mixes. If I need to support them with anything else, a few more peanuts or a few maples, I do that. It depends on how the season is going.

“Treatment is the normal – for cocci, canker and worms, and the paramyxo jab, and that is about it, really. I feed a lot less strong mix in the winter and mix it up myself. Quite a bit of protein when they are moulting but, as soon as they are through the moult, I introduce wheat and barley then, just to take them down really.

“I only let them out on good days in the winter, and I do like to be there because there are a few sparrow hawks about. They are always about and some years I lose several, and other years I don’t lose any. The young birds suffer the most in my opinion. Once they get upset you can’t expect anything good from them.

“I did fly south for a year or two in the 70s, I flew with Kings Lynn, but it got as though I could not do the two, with work and everything else I could not manage the two. I only raced one young bird season. I started with eight and finished with seven. They did have a lot of training and I used to single them up. They would probably be all day coming but, when it got to racing, you could not lose them.

“I would rather lose them training, than lose them racing. I do think that if you educate them early, they do pick it up and if they come on their own they have a bit more confidence.

“I normally have nine stock pairs, 20 widowhood cocks, and nine hens which I race on my roundabout system, and then I have the partners for these which I don’t race because I like to make sure that the racers have something to come home to. You do have to keep a few more birds but I do feel that it is well worth it. Before the season starts they have a few training tosses back to their partners, but as soon as racing starts there is no more training, only leading up to Lerwick. I show the hens to yearlings for a week or two at the start of the season, but once they get going I don’t show them before basketing, but they are always there when they come back.

“I think that, after they have had a few short training tosses, if they have not cottoned on then, they are not going to be any good. There are definitely some pigeons that don’t take to widowhood. You usually find them in the first year. I have to be fairly ruthless with selection as I usually have more young birds ready to take only a few vacancies in the race team. Some have to go that never ought to go, really. It is all down to numbers. It is a good place to be in but a horrible choice to make.

“I sit on an acre and a half of land here, and I used to grow a lot of vegetables on it and we used to sell at the door, but once the supermarkets got hold of everybody they all used to ride by. So I packed it up then and put it down to grass. It is all down to grass and small trees and shrubs. I can always find a job.

“I have always lived in the country and like it that way.” 

Terry has had another good season this year, although he confessed at basketing for the Thurso race that he thought his birds had “gone over”; he felt that they were not quite right for the job facing them. Even so, he was still 9th section.

Like many pigeon fanciers, Terry has played sport at a good level and is well aware of fitness standards required for that – something he relates to the requirements of racing pigeons. Many ex-sportsmen seem to have a “feel” for pigeon racing and are well aware of the little things that can enhance performances.

Luckily his wife is interested in his hobby, and keeps a variety of birds herself.

Terry’s main NRCC results in that super 2013 season were: Berwick, 19 and 21 section (88 and 92 open).

Perth: 20, 26, 28 and 50 section (54, 70, 83 and 50 open).

Fraserburgh: 1, 3, 24 and 25 section (6, 22, 139 and 147 open).

Lerwick: 1 and 3 section (17 and 37 open).

Thurso: 1 and 12 section (47 and 154 open).

Berwick young birds: 1, 2, 3 and 6 section (18, 43, 52 and 91 open).

Just as a reminder of the type of competition he faced, here are the first 20 in Section Four in four of the NRCC races in 2013:

First 20 in Section Four from Fraserburgh were: 1 T Winterton, Holbeach 1113, 2 M Bishop and Son, March 1075, 3 T Winterton 1046, 4 JW Lensen, Long Sutton 1016, 5 and 6 T Roughton, Wisbech 1014 and 1011, 7 Mr and Mrs J Dixon, Holbeach 1001, 8 J W Lensen 983, 9 Mr and Mrs Dixon 972, 10 D Saint, Spalding 962, 11 T Roughton 950, 12 JW Lensen 909, 13 and 14 M Bishop and Son 839 and 833, 15 T Roughton 821, 16 MJ and M Barrett, Norwich 813, 17 S Parsons and Son, Norwich 798, 18 M Bishop and Son 785, 19 T Roughton 780, 20 L Hall and E Seabourne, Norwich 761.

First 20 and Section Four from Lerwick: 1 T Winterton, Holbeach 1348, FC Skoulding and Son, March 1347, 3 T Winterton 1321, 4 T Roughton, Wisbech 1295, 5 B Williams and H Doole, Norwich 1291, 6 DA Barrell, Norwich 1284, 7 HM Queen 1274, 8 T Roughton 1272, 9 GE Knight and Sons, Kings Lynn 1268, 10 T Roughton 1262, 11 D Fox, Norwich 1255, 12 Perry Bros and Son, Kings Lynn 1220, 13 Simmons Partners, Dereham 1218, 14 S Parsons and Sons Loft 2, Norwich 1216, 15 R Clarke and Son, Norwich 1206, 16 L Hall and E Seabourne, Norwich 1204, 17 M Bishop and Son, March 1202, 18 RL Lawton, Brancaster Staithe 1178, 19 Mr and Mrs D Olby, Holt 1165, 20 M Bishop and Son 1164.

First 20 Section Four from Thurso: T Winterton, Holbeach 1373, 2 DJA Robinson and CA Gosling, Norwich 1354, 3 T Roughton, Wisbech 1350, 4 Robinson and Gosling 1349, 5 T Roughton 1347, 6 S Parsons ad Son, Norwich 1328, 7 M Bray, Norwich 1276, 8 Mr and Mrs J Dixon, Holbeach 1273, 9 G Staff, Norwich 1272, 10 GE Knight and Sons, Kings Lynn 1267, 11 Simmons Partners, Dereham 1263, 12 T Winterton 1260, 13 GE Knight and Sons 1246, 14 L Hall and E Seabourne, Norwich 1242, 15 L Howlett, Norwich 1241, 16 and 17 Mr and Mrs O King and Sons, Norwich 11231 and 1227, 18 T Roughton 1225, 19, D Saint, Spalding 1202, 20 Mr and Mrs Dixon 1185.

First 20 Section Four from Berwick Young Birds: 1, 2 and 3 T Winterton, Holbeach 1873, 1851 and 1845, 4 Mr and Mrs J Dixon, Holbeach 1831, 5 JW Lensen, Long Sutton 1826, 6 T Winterton 1810, 7 FC Skoulding and Son, March 1808, 8 Mr and Mrs Dixon 1800, 9 Mr and Mrs Scott, Kings Lynn 1798, 10 M Bishop and Son, March 1793, 11 DJ Vallance, March 1783, 12 Mr and Mrs O King and Son, Norwich 1779, 13 J Hunt, Norwich 1778, 14  M Bishop and Son 1773, 15, 16 and 17 D Hicks, Norwich 1753.9140, 1753.6785 and 1753.4430, 18 S and A Newnham and Son, Norwich 1752, 19 JW Lensen 1748, 20 G Cockaday, Norwich 1747.

Terry is representative of the high calibre of fancier competing in the NRCC and, usually, if you beat him you know that you have done well.