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Macclesfield Type Tipplers

by Tom Lewis
First of all, I must say that when we are talking about
Macclesfield Tipplers we are really referring to the first known
Tippler and not speaking about a pigeon that may or may not be
in Macclesfield today.
As a small boy of 8 or 9 years old, if anybody asked me what was
the difference between a Tippler and a Tumbler I would have
replied "Tipplers are small birds like Tumblers except that they
come in colours such as prints and mottles both intense and
dilute and nearly all had bronze tinting on the feathers. There
were also some blues and silvers. They all had small round heads
with pearly eyes. Tumblers were all sorts of colours from reds,
blacks, blues, almonds and duns in various patterns ranging from
self to those that had ail white or mixed coloured feathers called
badgers, beards, baldheads, oddsides, saddles, grizzles etc.
There are also some grizzle or grey Tipplers. Tumblers eyes were
varied colours from pearl, orange and bull. Tipplers could fly very
high for long periods, much ~~ longer than the Tumblers". One
day I voiced the latter bit of juvenile wisdom to an old Tumbler
man who then had racers. He told me. "You ought to go to
Swansea to see the Tumblers flying there." After all these years I
can now appreciate what he meant. You see, here in Wales it is
only Prints and Mottles that are called Tipplers. Other Tumbler
like pigeons not printed or mottles are called Tumblers. All
pigeons of the Tumbler type that hav~ all round heads with short

or medium beaks are said to be Tippler looking, regardless of

colour. , Those that have long spindly beaks are said to be
Tumbler and also Tippler like Tumblers. You will see all the types
of Tipplers at Swansea. The old Tumbler fancier in Merthyr was
referring to the badges, baldheads, oddsides and saddles etc.,
now and then flown as competition Tipplers, as being Tumblers.
As the original Tipplers were crossed into the non tumbling long
time flying Tumblers, so we get these variations.
The original Tippler originated in and around the town of
Macclesfield from which it spread around the whole of the Pottery
Districts of England. These pigeons were, on the whole, smallish
according to present day terminology and featured not too long
or short beaks, not too full foreheads though head was rather
round: they had pearl eyes, good shoulders, short shallow keels,
well set bodies tapering down to the tail. They also had clear,
short strong legs and small feet. Flights were broad, coverts well
up, with flights extending towards about half inch from the end of
the tail. The colours were mottles, dark and light, prints, chucks,
greys, bronzes, nearly all having some bronzing showing in the
colours. Naturally one must expect that there was some variation
in type but the Pottery fanciers practiced a great deal of
inbreeding and therefore it is in order for us to assume that
eventually they varied according to the likes and dislikes of the
fancier breeding them. At this stage I must say that at the time of
publication of Hepworth's book, fanciers had not started mixing
breeds to obtain the present day Exhibition Tippler though the
Show Tippler was being bred.
There are fanciers who go around and claim that such and such a
pigeon is a pure Macclesfield or pure Lincoln Crazy. In my view
there are now no longer any pure Macclesfield and certainly not
Lincoln Crazy pigeons about. We also get fanciers claiming they
have pure so and so's pigeons. Since in many cases the fanciers
mentioned are deceased, and even if not, as the birds are not
being bred to that fancier's ideals, I say it is a mistake to claim
that one's pigeons are pure Lovatts or pure Joe Hall's etc. Since
they are being bred to the present owner's ideals, then they must
be considered his pigeons.
Although the origin of the original Tippler (the Macc. type) have
not really been set down fully, I personally believe that this type
of Tippler could have only originated from a cross of the true
almond (not dilute reds) with the mottles. The Cumulet may have
been used in some non tumbling Tumblers but in my opinion it
could not have been used in the original Tippler (the Maccs.), It
does not have the right shape or size. When you see a little Macc.
type Tippler and then look at, say, a short faced almond Tumbler,
you can see a resemblance. Both are smallish birds with broad
breasts and short legs with small feet.

One question will always be asked about the Macclesfield Tippler

and that question is "Why are there few, if any, Macclesfield
Tipplers about today"? The truth is that the pure Macclesfield
Tippler did not meet the requirements of the modern competition
Tippler. The non tumbling Tumblers of Leicester and Nottingham
could fly longer than them in all weathers on the day nominated
for the fly. As a rule the pure Macclesfield Tipplers were only
flown on good flying days. Also they were not as robust as the
non tumbling Tumbler. However, Tippler fanciers liked the style
and look of the Macc. They crossed them into the non tumbling
Tumbler in order to have the Tumbler's strength but retain the
style of the Tippler. From these no doubt came the big strong
Leicester prints. We can also read of the Maccs. having been
:aken to Sheffield where they were crossed into the Sheffield
birds. The great Sam Billingham is said to have had these Maccs.
also the late Jack Whitley. Joe Hall-of Stockport is also another
well known old Tipplier flier that in fact flew the Maccs. in
competition. His best fly with young birds was to win the A.C. Cup
outright. While the Macc. type Tippler was flown in competition, it
was some time before they could beat the Tumbler's time.
However, I expect there are few, if any, people who have pure
Maccs. today. My own Macc. type Tipplers are from two locations.
I had some from Mr. Lee of Sheflield (He had them from Mr. Guise
of London some 40 years ago) and the others from Mr. Travis of
Preston (he had them from Mr. Guise of London about ten years
ago). Mr. Guise's birds were in fact a blend of Joe Hall's Maccs.
Bracegirdles (Macc. type), and Lincoln Crazies. Tom Beechinor of
Merthyr, who was a friend of Mr. Guise, recollects that he saw
Badge Tipplers though he also had a lot of bronzes. Incidentally,
Mr. Guise is said to have liked darl grey mottles the best.
People well may ask, why keep the Macc. type Tippler? The
answer to this is quite simple. There is no other pigeon that can
fly so high with such a great style over a long period of time.
There are few, if any other, flying breed that is so small. Neat and
graceful and pretty. They are so pretty and nice that some old
fanciers used to think so highly of them that they'd not put them
in the pigeon shed, but would keep them in a box of honour in
their front passage. For someone that wants a time flying pigeon
that flys with a beautiful wing action and whose sole ambition is
stylish flying of periods up to and over 15 hours but not the
tremendously long times in all weather and conditions as
required of the competition bird, then the Macc. type is his
pigeon. If his pigeons do not fly as high as he would like, then a
cross to the Macc. type hen should produce youngsters that will
fly high and with style of the Macc. There is not a better sight
than a kit of Macc. type Tipplers flying high in the sky on a day
with high cloud and moderate breezes. There are competition
Tipplers that fly high over long periods. However, in my mind,
such Tipplers owe their high flying capabilities to the original
Tippler "The Macclesfield Tippler".