Sam Bednall's Thurso Cup

The Bednall Archive

Last updated: 28/07/2007

Samuel Edward Bednall, was born in Radford Woodhouse in 1903. Woodhouse was a mining village built to house miners working in Wollaton Colliery and when he left school Sam went down the mine. Like many miners Sam took up pigeon  racing in his spare time and the photograph below shows him feeding his pigeons. With him is his pigeon racing partner, Lewis Chambers, a dapper man, always very smartly dressed, who was the fiancé of author Alan Sillitoes aunt Ivy Burton. When Lewis died, Sam carried on racing (so far as is known) without a partner.  Like any pigeon racing enthusiast. he trained his pigeons by sending them to far-off places from which they had to find their way back to his loft and on at least one occasion,  took a basket of pigeons with him when visiting his wife's Brewster cousin in Sutton-in-Ashfield. 

Samuel Edward Bednall (LHS) with his pigeon racing partner, Lewis Chambers,  outside  the loft at Radford Woodhouse, Nottingham. (1920s-30s)

Sam was a member of the Nottingham Flying Club which met at the Grove Hotel on Castle Boulevard, Nottingham.  This was just one of many clubs affiliated to the Nottingham & District Federation of Homing Pigeon Clubs** (secretary in 1929 W. Alltoft) and the following extract from the Federation Members Book for 1929,  gives the names of members of the Nottingham Flying Club at that date, the  location of the race points, i.e. York, Northallerton, Durham, Morpeth, Berwick, Perth, Banff, Thurso and Lerwick and pigeon performance figures i.e. a yardage adjustment and average speed in yards per minute. 

Extract from Nottingham & District Pigeon Racing Federation's handbook 1929.-Nottingham Flying Club's results.


Sam had his successes, winning several gold medals but no records of his wins  have so far been found and the gold medals can tell us nothing, for he had to sell them in the difficult times of the early 30s.  The only tangible piece of evidence of Sam's pigeon racing success is his replica of the Thurso Cup, which he said was won by a red checker hen, which had either eggs or young and flew straight into the loft when it arrived home, rather than hanging about outside, out of reach, as racing pigeons sometimes did and do.

Sam's pigeons won the race on more  than one occasion in succession and he had a good chance of winning the cup outright (3 successive wins), unfortunately he had recently married and was so short of money that he couldn't afford to pay the race fee.  Although he was still able to enter his pigeon in the race, his bird's results were  not taken into account in awarding the prizes.   He took it philosophically, his only comment in a letter he wrote to his wife (in a nursing home having just given birth to their first child was "Thurso cup gone never mind, average medal gone never mind, there's sunshine after rain and all will be fine in a while."


**Clubs in the Federation: Radford Homing Society; Radcliffe Flying Club; Bulwell Homing Society; Mansfield Road North Flying Club; Nottingham Flying Club; Old Basford Flying Club; Newark Excelsior Homing Society; Newark Social Flying Club; and the Stapleford & Sandiacre Homing Society.


Interested in pigeons and racing? This site shows what can be done.

AWBednall, Macclesfield 2004-2007