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100-YEARS-AGO: PENDLETON PIGEON PILFERER BROUGHT TO EARTH


History With Flynn

Pigeon's we all all love them right? feathered flying rats, wartime heroes (Dickins Medal the animal VC) a table delicacy, (Speckled Jim) a much loved creature of fanciers and breeders? Take your pick.

I do know that racing and breeding pigeons was and is an extremely popular sport with strong working class roots, birds have been known to change hands for as much as for a staggering £1.07 million and with prize money as high as £30, 000 competition is fierce.

What has this got to do with your usual local history stories I almost hear you ask, well settle down, don't ruffle your feathers and all will be explained.

January 1920 saw a strange case at the Salford Magistrates Court when Daniel Harman 23, who resided at Irlam Square. Pendleton appeared charged with theft of a racing pigeon.

Samuel Corbett who lived at Bolton Road, Irlams O' Th' Height was a collier at Agecroft Colliery and was described as having an excellent collection of birds, and had been quite successful in winning a number of sweepstakes and prize money in the local area.

He had one fine specimen which was sadly unnamed he valued at £5 a not inconsiderable sum, which he had prepared for a forthcoming race which had a prize of £25.

Obviously Sam loved his pigeon and one can only imagine his horror when he went to the cote to feed his beloved bird, only to find to his horror that the bird was missing, the cote had been safely locked when he left and he flew to the conclusion that his bird hadn't flown but had been stolen!

His suspicions were aroused and he decided to keep watch on neighbouring cotes to find his beloved bird, going as far as hiding in bushes and sleeping overnight to catch the bird burglar.

Two nights later his labours were rewarded when he spotted Hardman holding his pigeon, he leapt from his hiding place and demanded.

"What are you doing with my bird?"

Hardly phased he casually replied,

"Oh take your bird"

Corbett took hold of it and to his consternation found that the feathers on one side of it's wing had been clipped off , "in a most shameful manner leaving the quills bare"

He furiously demanded what he had one to his beloved pigeon only to be told that he wanted some eggs from the bird and with that breezed off.

The police were called and Detective Sergeant McNee was summoned to investigate the fowl deed.

He arrested Hardman at home and asked him why he had done it, and was told,

"Yes I did steal it, I did it for spite"

The Stipendary Magistrate heard the evidence and said, 

"it is about as mean a thing as I have heard in years"

He then fined £20 or go to prison for 51 days, yes we all thought he deserved bird.

Not a lot I can say really as I have run out of pigeon/bird puns but I can assure you that it is a true story! 

I'll get my cote.


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