It is believed that the hobof breeding Fancy pigeons was established in South Africa during or just after the 1899-1903 War, when British soldiers introduced Fancy pigeons to our country. Undoubtedly, there were some fancy breeds in South Africa prior to this but there are no authentic records regarding them.
The earliest South African Magazine to include pigeons, namely “The South African Poultry, Pigeon & Bird Magazine” also concerned birds, rabbits and poultry and was established in 1911. This magazine was “The Recognised Organ of the Poultry Industry, Pigeon & Rabbit Fancy throughout the Southern half of the African Continent.” It was published in Bloemfontein until the late 1960’s when regretfully, the doors closed.
Since the publication of “The South African Poultry, Pigeon & Bird Magazine” (hereafter referred to as PPBM), news of the various breeds of fancy pigeons that were imported from a number of countries and kept in South Africa, became known to us. Due to this, it is possible to put together some sort of history on the development of the Fancy Pigeon hoband the clubs that were formed to improve certain breeds.
The first fancy breeds imported to South Africa that we know of (since 1911), were Fantails, Dragoons, Carriers, Magpies, a variety of Blowers, Tumblers and a few others – “to improve the existing fancy pigeon breeds that were kept people in various towns.”
Some fragmentary pigeon clubs were formed in parts of South Africa, but served no real purpose due to the vast distances and rudimentary means of communication that existed in the first part of the last century.
Fancy Pigeon Shows, although small in size, started in the 1920’s and became family outings. These shows were held in conjunction with various Agricultural Association shows in small towns. Exhibitions were held in halls or under shelters together with rabbits, poultry, wild birds and various other hobbies.
One judge, usually a poultry or pigeon fancier, was invited and given the dubious honour of judging everything on show! He was always treated with the greatest respect and could do no wrong in the eyes of any exhibitor.
During the 1920’s and 1930’s, new breeds of fancy pigeon were imported from England and Holland in particular.
Clubs for the Dragoon, Fantail, Blower and other fancy pigeons formed on a steady basis and news columns started to appear more regularly in the PPBM. The first arguments between pigeon fanciers on the interpretation of pigeon standards, at that time all received from overseas, also appeared in the PPBM.