Pigeon racing is disappearing among the working class, says veteran breeder

Mr Evans, meanwhile, speculated that it may have something to do with the decline of workers’ clubs. “Before, people saw the pigeon sport, or knew about the pigeon sport, just by going to the local women’s clubs. But now, you know, if you don’t go to those areas, you don’t know the sport exists.

He was optimistic about the future of the sport, saying the decline in membership was leveling off. “There are new people coming into the sport: men, women, children, all, you know, all different backgrounds.”

In recent years, the association has begun to reach out to schools.

“We now have six schools across the country with lofts,” Mr Evans said. “The children take care of the pigeons and enter them in competitions in local clubs, and have been quite successful. The pigeon project, as it is called in each school, is then integrated into the program, because pigeon racing can lend itself lots of different things in history, math – which is used to calculate the outcome of a race – and geography.”

The media attention on China’s mega-buys is helpful, Mr Evans said, because “it has brought public attention to the sport, which we struggle with.” Overall the Chinese interest in the sport had “little impact” in Britain, “unless you were one of the lucky ones who were able to sell some of their pigeons for significant sums”.

The decline, then, may not be terminal. “We can fix this and ensure that traditional racing will survive in the future,” said Mr Evans.

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