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Bygone Stanley - Pigeon Shoots

PIGEON SHOOTS AT STANLEY - 19th and early 20th century

One of my uncles, Uncle Fred, once told me of these pigeon shoots which were held in the Stanley village. The competitors each bred and trained their own pigeons for this event. The aim in breeding and training was so that the pigeons, when liberated, were quick enough to fly away and avoid the shot from a gun. The competitors' training was to be a marksman who could shoot the pigeon after liberation. The competitors had to shoot the pigeons of their opponents as they were liberated, signalled by the neutral controller who acted as referee. Only a dead pigeon was a 'score'. The winner was obviously the one who shot the greater number of pigeons. I was told by my parents that there was much gambling on these events - local bookmakers giving the odds almost like the method used on horse racing and greyhound racing. This again was a sport which gave competitors and the villagers much pleasure.

Fred Burkinshaw (1877-1925) was in 1898/1914 regarded as one of the best marksmen in Stanley in these pigeon shooting events. The photograph of Fred with his gun was taken outside his home in Stanley in 1898. The house in which he lived was stone-built in what was locally known as Stony Lump - the stone being mined from the nearby sandstone quarry. These houses have now been replaced by brick semi-detached in Lake Lock Road, Stanley Land Ends.

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