The Macclesfield Tippler
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 have 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".