The history of pigeon racing in Belgium: Vandevelde Theo (Leffinge, BE) & Vanderespt Charles (Oudenburg, BE) - part II

In 1904 Theo Vandevelde exchanged a few pigeons with his fellow teacher Louis Linghier from Oudenburg. He received several pigeons of two separate couples, including the famous ‘Snak’, which was paired to a hen of Constant Deherdt, a fancier from Berchem.

This couple bred a cock called ‘Pokke,’ which was in turn paired with a hen of Janssen from Edegem. His pigeons belonged to the line of Boerke from Gijsel, which originates from the pure Wegge line from Lier. This line disappeared in 1997. This hen was a blue ‘witslag’ hen. This hen and ‘Pokke’ bred two rounds of eggs, which resulted in three pigeons. There was a blue white pen called ‘Gelijke Pen’ and two blue cocks, one of which was disposed of as a youngster. One of the other pairs whose youngsters were in the exchange between Theo and Louis had bred a blue hen called ‘Oude Blauwe’. It would become a superb breeding hen.

The hen ‘Oude Blauwe’ was coupled with a blue cock, a son of ‘Gelijke Pen’ x the blue ‘Barones’. The pair produced a large blue cock: ‘Beer’. It was a strong pigeon with yellow eyes but he was not very attentive. He distinguished himself with a fourth prize from Bordeaux in Diksmuide with a strong northerly wind and lots of rain and a first prize from Breteuil in Kortemark. Unfortunately the pigeon got lost in the disastrous race from Creil.

This is Theo Vandevelde from Oudenburg. He was the Belgian grandmaster in pigeon racing. This picture was taken in 1920.
His pigeons have made the lofts of Nestor Tremmery, dr. Bricoux, Caramin, Commine and Charles Vanderespt world famous.

In 1905 and 1907 ‘Gelijke Pen’ and ‘Barones’ were coupled and they bred ‘Plekke’, which was a nice, short, compact cock, who was in turn the sire of ‘Beer’. ‘Plekke’ loved racing. As a young bird he won a second prize from Etampes in the Ostend syndicate and he took the win from Orleans with a lead of several minutes. This amazing pigeon was released for the first time on the second Sunday of June. It was about three months old when it won these two prizes.

In the following season, in 1907, he won a second prize from Etampes. Unfortunately the controller was too late to register him, as a result of which he lost the first place. He was a first rate racer and breeder and he was sire of ‘Beer’ and’Goede Molenaarde’, which will be discussed later on. Here are some other pigeons worth mentioning:

‘Stijve’, brother of ‘Plekke’, a blue cock and top class racer. This pigeon was lost in a disastrous race from Bordeaux in Diksmuide.

‘Schone’, sister of Stijve and Plekke. Was also lost in the race from Bordeaux.

‘Grote’ is another brother of Schone, Stijve and Plekke. This is a strong and elegant cock with orange eyes. He is the sire of ‘Elfpender’, one of the best breeding pigeons ever to have lived in the loft of Vandevelde. The well known breeding couple ‘Gelijke Pen’ x ‘Barones’ of Alfons Vandevelde has bred two cocks ('Grote Blauwe' and 'Bonte') and a hen ('Blauwe Kweekduivin').

‘Grote Blauwe’ won for instance a 5th Tours in Dottenijs. ‘Blauwe Kweekduivin’ was coupled with ‘Blauw Papaatje’ and bred four excellent racing and breeding pigeons. The Delombaerde brothers from Waregem had two cocks and a hen of this breeding pair, including their famous ‘Vuile’. The notorious top prize winners of Florent Debacker from Kwaremont were in fact Vandevelde pigeons that he obtained via Delombaerde. We mentioned earlier that ‘Gelijke Pen’ had a brother. This brother was called ‘Pokje’ and had a blue plumage and orange eyes.

‘Pokje’ is possibly one of the most famous pigeons in the loft of Theo Vandevelde from Oudenburg. This pigeon has won countless top prizes; he won races from Creil and Bordeaux and anything in between. As a yearling he won the race from Ruffec in Ostend with a 45 minute lead and a northerly wind. He also won the fifth from Bordeaux in Ostend as the only pigeon that was clocked at the day of the release. After that he also won a fifth prize from Bordeaux while his son settled for sixth. The two pigeons (father and son) were in the same basket. In that very same race from Bordeaux ‘Jonge Kletsekop’ won the seventh prize. In Gent, in the race from Dax, ‘Pokje’ and ‘Kletsekop’ won two top prizes and a fee of 20 Belgian francs each.


In the race from Bordeaux in Brugge ‘Pokje’ won a fourth prize; ‘Kletsekop’ finished 20th. In the race from Orleans in Staden in 1909 ‘Pokje’ was lost. It was a race where many pigeons would never return home.

This pigeon has bred a few great youngsters, first of all the freckled white hen with orange eyes, which he obtained via Alfons Vandevelde. This bird comes from the loft of Alfons Blondeel of Waregem and belongs to the Hillaert line of Gent. This Hillaert pigeon was coupled with ‘Pokje’ and they bred ‘Wittepen Bordeaux’, a great racer and breeder: he is the sire of the renowned ‘Sproete’ of Jordaan Vanderespt in Leffinge and ‘Goede Blauwe Witslag duivinne’ of G. Platteau. From then on ‘Pokje’ was coupled with the blue coloured ‘Barones’, which had been coupled with ‘Gelijke Pen’ (lost in 1907). These are some of their children:

'Het Keeltje’ is a nice blue hen bred from the ‘Goed Blauwtje’  Vanderespt-Leffinghe,  the blue breeding cock of Delombaerde. It bred two cocks that survived the war.

The „Plekke" was coupled with the ‘Molenaar’ hen in 1907. Molenaar belonged to the Putman line (Kortrijk) and the Bagein line (Ieper). It had fourteen tail feathers and grey white eyes. This couple has bred ‘Grote Molenaarde’ with yellow brown eyes. This was a great racer and breeding pigeon. He won two first prizes in Gent in the race from Angoulème. He was killed in 1915 during the First World War, when the Germans confiscated the loft of Vandevelde.

The ‘Kleine Molenaarde’, a strong racer. Died in 1910.

The ‘Goede kweekduivin’ of Alfons Vandevelde. Alfons was very successful until 1914. After the war he was past his best but other fanciers were there to continue the success story of pigeon racing in Belgium, for instance Charles Vanderespt and Oscar Devriendt. Still Vandevelde won a first prize at the championship of the ‘Stadsbond Brugge’ in 1922, in the clubs of Bruges and Diksmuide.

It is interesting to know that a new line was added by then: ‘Roodoogske’. This was a hen bred from ‘Fijnen’ of Achiel De Keyser from Auwegem, coupled with the pigeons of ‘Blauwe Wegge’ from Louis Linghier, as mentioned earlier.

The ‘Roodoogske’ was paired to’ Grote Molenaarde’.
They bred ‘Goed Geschelpt’, a checkered cock with orange eyes who was famous for his speed and his breeding skills. He was paired with a black breeding hen of Maurits Vandevoorde from Kanegem and they bred for instance ‘Grote’, a post war favourite. The old ‘Molenaar hen’ was paired to a blue cock which originates from the line of ‘Papaatjes’ x a blue hen from the ‘Gelijke Pen’ x ‘Barones’. In 1912 they produced ‘Vuistje’, a small blue white eye hen that was hard to beat in northern wind. As a young bird it won seven first prizes! 

The ‘Vuistje’ was coupled to a blue white pen cock in 1913, which was a son of the feared ‘Gestuikte’ of Fik Vermeyen of Antwerp. Vuistje and the blue white pen cock bred:

The ‘Velo’: a nice blue cock with dark grey eyes, just like his dam. In 1913 he followed in the footsteps of his dam, winning seven first prizes. In 1914 he won seven first prizes again, including the race from Tours in Diksmuide, with a brisk northerly wind. This breed was especially strong thanks to its endurance and persistence in hard weather.

The ‘Sproete’, a blue hen, which was still in the loft after the war. She was then sold to Victor Biebuyck from Olsene. According to Theo she is the stock dam of the Nestor Tremmery breed from Oudenburg, which included the famous ‘140 Wittekop’ and the ‘169’, a sister of Wittekop. ‘Sproete’, ‘Eenpoot’ and ‘Kleine Witoog’ belong to this bloodline as well.

The sire of this hen, which was coupled with ‘Sproete’ (a sister of Velo) was ‘Oude Vuile’, bred from the ‘Baron Duivin’ paired to a Molenaar hen. This hen stems from the lines of Hursel (Gistel) and Sluis (Oudenburg). Each of these pigeons excelled in hard weather.

Nestor Tremmery from Oudenburg in the 1930s

To conclude I would also like to mention:

The ‘Dikke’, a nice blue coloured cock born in 1907. He stems from ‘Wittepen Pokke’ x ‘Barones’. In 1914 he was sold to Mr. Tremmery, where he was killed in the war. ‘Dikke’ had been paired with the renowned ‘St. Denis’ of Alfons Vandevelde; this pair bred ‘Elfpenner’, which we mentioned earlier.

The „St. Denis" was a chequered hen who won a first prize from St. Denis in Gent against over 2000 pigeons with a brisk northerly wind; he had an eight minute lead.
As you can see Theo Vandevelde was only looking for special pigeons. I cannot think of any other pigeon breed that has such a detailed record as the breed of Vandevelde from Oudenburg. There was another breed with a detailed record: the Gits breed. The Gits breed consisted of 77 different stocks but there were not a lot of fanciers who were successful with them. That is what makes the Vandevelde loft in Oudenburg so unique: this breed is the basis of almost all successful West-Flemish long distance breeds up until today. If there is one breed that has been very successful in other lofts, it is that of Theo Vandevelde from Oudenburg.

Julien Commine, Leers Nord

The pigeons of Vandevelde are born winners and they brought success to countless other lofts. It was thanks to Theo Vandevelde that Julien Commine from Leers-Nord obtained some first class pigeons. His pigeons also played an important role in the lofts of the Delombaerde brothers from Waregem and Nestor Tremmery, who lives in Oudburg as well. The blue coloured Vandevelde birds were also the favourite choice for Jordaan Vanderespt from Leffinge and his sons Charles and Jules. The two sons were the Belgian Champions long distance and grand distance Cureghem Centre in 1951. The following pigeon breeds were all composed of Vandevelde bloodlines: Geo Platteau, Tavernier, the Cattrijsse brothers, Jef Boels, Casimir Ingelbrecht, Gustje Absolom, the Casteleyns, Maurits Sanders, Cyriel Derynck and Karel Van Gampelaere.

The pigeons of Julien Matthijs (Vichte), Juultje Viane and Oscar Devriendt have Vandvelde origins as well. This breed lasted for almost sixty years in the hands of skilled fanciers, who kept on rejuvenating the breed and keeping the lines as pure as possible. It is a fact that Charles Vanderespt has been highly successful as a fancier throughout his entire career, which lasted 60 years. Of course there were some seasons that really stand out but he always had consistent results throughout his career.

Take for instance the season 1911. On 28 May he had basketed two pigeons for the provincial race from Orleans: he won a second and fourth prize. Three pigeons were basketed for Orleans in Kortemark: second, third and seventh. Five pigeons basketed for Orleans in OStende: the first five prizes. Coincidently he had a visit from two inspectors of different pigeon unions that day. “You are right on time”, Charles said. “I expect it to be a successful day.” The inspectors were so enthousiastic that they stayed in his loft the entire day. The fancier Tremmery, who had pure Bricoux lines in his loft at that time (later on, he added some Vandeveldes as well) said that Charles was the only fancier he was afraid of.

Dr. Arthur Bricoux

After the First World War every fancier wanted to buy pigeons from Vandevelde and Vanderespt. Oscar Devriendt and the Cattrijsse family were the first in line. The most impressive thing is that almost every fancier was successful with this breed. Back in the 1920s and 30s there were not many West-Flamish fanciers anymore who took part in the big national long distance races in Brussels. It was Nestor Tremmery from Oudenburg who pulled out of the national races; others would soon follow. Nowadays they are very successful in Brussels, Fleuris, Liège etc.

1931 was possibly his most successful season ever, with no less than 31 first prizes! He once won the first seven prizes from Clermont in Izegem. We will discuss some of Charles’ most famous pigeons from before the Second World War. First of all there is the renowned ‘Tien’, a stout blue coloured cock born in 1930. Julien Mathijs from Vichte, BDB champion in 1954, obtained his youngsters, which would eventually become great racing pigeons.

His outstanding ‘Vooruit’, one of the very best Belgian pigeons, stems from the line of ‘Tien’ of Charles Vanderespt. ‘Tien’ was bred from a son of ‘Napoleon’ of Theo Vandevelde. Charles had picked the bird in the loft of Theo. He knew what he wanted. The son of Napoleon (‘Napeleon Jr’) was coupled to a blue hen, which was a crossing. Charles was a great fancier and he liked to add some crossed birds to his loft once in a while.

The sire of that blue hen (the sire of ‘Tien’) was a ginger cock of Michiels from Tielt (Brabant); the dam was a blue Vandevelde. One of the youngsters of ‘Tien’, the blue ‘Achttien’, was the best pigeon in the coast region. His sire was a hen of Sion from Tourcoing. In the race from Orleans ‘Achttien’ was simply the best. In 1938 he won a first provincial prize from Orleans in Roeselare. A few days later he was basketed for the national Augoulème in Brussels (Entente Beige). There was a brisk northwest wind and most insiders believed that the fanciers from the coast would not stand a chance. Surprisingly the ‘Achttien’ did a great job: he had a lead of an hour compared to the other big champions and he won a sixth national prize.

Another pigeon worth mentioning is the ‘België-Holland’. This is a magnificent cock from 1933. His sire was a pure Ost-Roe from Borgerhout; the dam was a Vandevelde pigeon. However it was not a Vandevelde from Oudenburg this time; it was one from Waregem: the Pol Verhoye bloodline from Kortrijk. The ‘België Holland’ won a first international prize from Bordeaux in 1935 in difficult weather conditions. Only six pigeons arrived home that day. The sixth prize was won by Maurice Delbar from Ronse with his ‘Kleine Blauwe’, a son of the wonder couple. Vanderespt and Delbar became good friends and they exchanged pigeons once in a while to improve the quality of their lofts!

Charles Vanderespt won a first prize from Angoulème in Ieper with the youngsters in 1936. He was always very successful with his young birds! The French national champion Paul Sion from Tourcoing remembered the name of Vanderespt from that historic race from Bordeaux in 1935. That is why he asked his driver to take him to Oostende, where Vanderespt lived.  He had brought in quite some money.
He saw the pigeon and he wanted to buy it.
“Well”, said Charles, “do you like it?”
“Absolutely”, said Sion. “I hope you are willing to sell it…”
“No. I am not going to sell it but you can have it. It’s a gift for you.”
Sion was perplexed. He was a rich man who was used to paying a lot of money for a pigeon of a new bloodline.
“I’ll come back tomorrow”, said Sion. “I want to give you one of my pigeons in exchange. You can choose anyone you like. I’ll bring a basket full of breeding hens.”
Sion stuck to his word.
Charles picked a pigeon from Sion’s basket, it was a blue coloured Vandevelde.
“This one will do well in my loft”, said Charel.
He coupled his new bird with ‘België-Holland’. This resulted in a nice blue hen ‘33’. It was one of Charles’ best breeding hens ever.
He coupled her with ‘Oud Bordeauxtje’ and ‘Biarritz’ of Delbar. She would breed excellent pigeons with almost any cock.
She is the dam of the second international prize from Bilbao 1951 of Mr. Robert Sion from Mouveaux.
She is the dam of the well known breeding hen of the Deguffroy brothers in Wingene and of ‘Mooie 83’, which is in turn the dam of a blue hen whose daughter won a 6th international prize Barcelona (Vanderespt).
I could go on forever. The entire breed stems from that dam.
“Sion is the finest fancier I have ever met”, said Charles. Sion,a wealthy French textile magnate, purchased quite a lot of pigeons from the fancier from Oostende.
Charles Vanderespt won a first prize in West-Flanders from Angoulème in 1947 with his young birds. Only one pigeon arrived home at the day of the release: one of Charles’ young birds. He clocked two more pigeons at 5h30 and 6h30 next morning. They won a second and third prize at provincial level against 700 pigeons. Charles won the three first prizes and took 12 prizes with 14 pigeons. It had been a hard race, which his pigeons were particularly fond of. Hector Desmet from Geraardsbergen was interested in buying one of the pigeons of Charles. He wanted to give him ten pigeons in exchange.
"No way", said Charles. "You can have one for free." So he gave one of his pigeons to his good friend Hector, who did not have to pay anything.
The pigeons of Hector are of top quality. The owner of the loft in the Stuiverstraat in Oostende has always been hardworking man. He says he starts to feel his age but he is still a dedicated fancier. He is someone you can trust.
He helped a lot of his fellow fanciers, who he is close friends with.  He has also helped his nephews, the Vanderespt brothers, to become National Champion 1951 in Cureghem-Centre.