Tournier of Lommel…The story of a world class bloodline. 

The ‘Valk’ 5083104/53 and the ‘Valk 472’ 5080472/58

The most influential line in the history of the Tournier breed is undoubtedly the VALK line. All over the world fanciers talk about this line with admiration and respect. Descendants of the ‘Valk’, in the hands of good fanciers, were and still are feared competitors for the victory. There is no national or title that has not been won at least once by a decendant of the ‘Valk’.

Let’s start at the beginning. The ‘Oude Valk’ (5083104/53) was bred in 1953, the year of the memorable floods in the Netherlands. His father was the B52/5089390, that in turn came out of B41/62563 ‘Blauwe Tist’ x B46/5058770 ‘Blauwe Witpen Maes’. His mother was the ‘Kweekduivinneke 362’ B52/5089362 and she came out of the ‘Witpen 761’ (the Wegge line) x ‘Voske 656’, which still had the Warre Ceulemans blood from Berlaar and also of the ‘Jonge Colpar’. When ‘De Valk’ was just two months old and not even trained yet, he already made a name by winning 1st Queivrain (146 km) against young and old birds. And after that he kept winning many firsts and main prizes. Once he won, together with his father the ‘Blauwe 90’, the two firsts in a provincial competition. The ‘Valk’ collected even more fame through his sons ‘Scherpoog’ and especially through the ‘Valk 472’ (B58/5080472).

Where the ‘Scherpoog’ was a brilliant champion in the races, the ‘Valk 472’ made history as one of the best breeders that the pigeon sport has ever known.

Wim Pollmann once told me that it was the most special pigeon he had ever photographed. With his falcon-like look he constantly watched you and followed your every movement. And every time I thought “now I can take your picture” he moved, even in the dark. The mother of the ‘Valk 472’ was the notorious ‘Fondduivin 17’ (B54/5073017). She won more than 30 (!) prizes in races over 700 km, among which six times from Barcelona.

Another son of the (old) ‘Valk’ was the ‘Fondvalk’. He also was a super champion at all distances and he even won the 2nd from Cahors in the memorable disaster race of 1968.

Another son, the ‘Vale 337’, once won the 1st from Orleans with a gale-force head wind and he was the only pigeon in Belgium that day that flew more than 900 m/m over that distance. Two weeks later he won the 4th national Angouleme. With descendants from the ‘Vale 337’ especially v.d. Heuvel in Delft (Holland) and Phillemon v.d. Borre in Overijsse (Belgium) did very well. V.d. Borre won several cars with his pigeons and even placed three pigeons in the sport category at the 1979 Olympiade in Amsterdam.

Countless fanciers had success with descendants of the ‘Valk’. To name some of them: the late van Gent form Baarn; v.d. Hoek from Den Haag; Hagers from Berkel; Postma from Leeuwarden; Catoen from de Bilt; Dr. Olthuis from Delft: Lei Geerlings from Posterholt; Kooy from Leerdam and Geyskens from Testelt (and through him among others Kellens and Jan Grondelaers, whose ‘Orleans I’ and ‘Orleans II’ go back again to the Tournier breed, by way of the ‘St. Vincent’ from Kellens). Jos Van den Bosch from Berlaar too had success with the Valk line, as did Jac Ueberbach from the Dutch village of Kessel and Reitsma from Anjum.

And also in the famous ’10’ from Jan Theelen we find, by way of Jan Poels, Valk blood.

But apart from that, the ‘VALK 472’ was a special character. His descendants were possibly even more successful. A few examples of these:

– In 1975 baker Jos Offermans from Bingelrade in Zuid-Limburg, Holland won 1st national Barcelona and 1st international Barcelona hens with his blue hen H72/717224. Jos bred her out of a daughter of the ‘Valk 472′!

– In 1979 the late Henk de Beus from Zutphen had the 1st Ace middle-distance of Holland with his ’80’ (NL76/1282080). The ’80’ was one of the best pigeons ever seen in Holland and won among others: 1st Soignies against 4,552 p., 1st Compiegne against 2,263 p., 1st St. Ghislain against 1,042 p., 1st Duffel against 1,081 p., 1st Soignies against 985 p. and so on. And this legendary ’80’ came from mother’s side out of the ‘Valk 472’.

Old newspaper with the headline ‘ Was Jacques Tournier van Lommel the best of Belgium?

– In 1989 Wilfried Stiel from Arcen won amongst others 1st National Dax M. 5,997 p. and 45th National St. Vincent 15,385 p. with his NL87/2561840, the ‘Spin 840’. This daring bird became also 1st Ace National Marathon of the Netherlands! And once again we find – on the mother’s side – the ‘Valk 472’, twice in the pedigree. And in 1984 Wilfried Stiel already became champion of the Netherlands with this bloodline!

Actually, practically every year offspring of the ‘Valk 472’ created miracles in national races. For example in 1980 – when no less than three of the five Dutch National Aces had Tournier blood in them (more information in the ‘Grote Postduiven Boek’) – the best young pigeon of the Netherlands was the NL80/277515 from K. Griekspoor from Nieuw-Vennep. This super pigeon came out of a granddaughter of the ‘Valk 472’ as well.

The ‘Valkje’ (1409716/81) from Jan van Engelen from Hedel, Holland, originated from the ‘Valk 472’ too. She was among others mother of the pigeon that won 1st Bondsconcours Etampes against 13,316 p. (fastest of over 100,000 pigeons) and of the pigeon that won 1st Orleans against 2,682 p.

Black Murderers – Braakhuis and Hermes

Holland has a world-wide reputation for the long-distance races. The ‘Zilvervosje’ from Meesters, the ’38’ and the ’49’ from Jan Aarden, the ’90’ and the ‘Spin’ from van Wanroy, ‘De Dolle’ from van Geel and ‘Oud Doffertje’ from van der Wegen were all pigeons that became famous because of their exceptional achievements in racing or breeding. Also, for over a decade, Holland had two long-distance pairs that were in a class of their own: ’07’ Zoon Spin x ’69’ Zuster Pau from the brothers Kuypers and ‘IJzeren 44’ x ‘Oud Zwart’ from Marcel Braakhuis.

Despite that, not everyone thinks the same, Marcel Braakhuis was convinced that the ability of the offspring of his ‘Gouden Koppel’ to fly in the lead originates from the Tournier-line and more specific from the ‘Valk 472’.

The ‘Gouden Koppel’ came out of:

Cock: H72/313744 ‘Zoon 131’ Jan de Weert.

Hen: H73/978664 Tournier x Vanhee.

This unequalled couple produced:

– 1st National Dax 1988, 11,211 p. + car

– 2nd National St. Vincent 1977, 6,621 p.

– 3rd International Barcelona 1982, 15,605 p.

– 3rd National St. Vincent 1980, 14,568 p.

– 4th National Dax 1979, 5,414 p.

– 5th National St. Vincent 1978, 8,267 p.

Furthermore, a grandson of this pair, with the ring number DV-0647-80-2081, won 1st International Pau 1983 for the German, Raymund Hermes.

I once asked Braakhuis why the Tournier blood was so important to him. He gave me two reasons:

1. The father of the ‘Oud Zwart’, the H68/1557419, an almost pure Tournier out of the line of the ‘Valk 472’, won the 3rd national Dax, while his brother  was a car winner already with 3rd nat. St. Vincent 1968 and also won 5th nat. Dax.

2. Marcel himself had won two cars with the ‘Valk 472’-line. And other Tournier-Valks had been lead racers for many years. Therefore his opinion is that these pigeons must have special abilities, possibly originating from the special Tournier breed.

Last in this Valk-chapter we arrive at one of the most imposing athletes of the Tournier lofts for many years. The ‘Wondere Blauwe 013’ (5090013/76). As a yearling he already won six 1st prizes and he became one of the best Chateauroux pigeons of the country. A large part of the Tournier family has his blood in them. The ‘Valk’ line was also strengthened because Edmond Tournier bought back the famous ’80’ from the late Henk de Beus and the ”t Valkje’ from Jan van Engelen.

Arie Van Den Hoek and his ‘Grizzles’

It is well known that Jacques Tournier and Arie van den Hoek both played a special part in the development of the pigeon sport in Holland and Belgium. They were both prominent personalities, exceptionally gifted and always willing to give other fanciers the benefit of their knowledge, insight and experience. For decades they had written in ‘De Duif’ and in the ‘Neerlands Postduiven Orgaan’. These two grand-masters had a very special relationship, which didn’t stay without consequences.

I can’t do any better than literally writing down what the late Arie van den Hoek himself wrote in 1976:

“I kept pigeons from when I was 10 years old until I was 20. After that I lived in rented accomadation in Den Haag, Holland. We married just before the war and keeping pigeons was not possible then. Immediately after the war we moved house and built the first lofts. My first pigeons came from the so called ‘Wehrmachts’ (German Army) lofts. Some of my pigeons still have a little bit of this blood in them. They were good pigeons without known pedigrees. Only the ‘Adam’ of 1943, also a German army pigeon, had a pedigree that originated from the lofts from the brothers Oomens from Breda: ‘Rode Post’, ‘Daxduif’ and so on.

In 1946 and later I got pigeons from Nipius from Middelharnis and in 1947 I came into contact with the late L. Vermeijen. Through him I started writing in ‘De Duif’ and acquired the pigeons the ‘Baviaan’ (out of ‘Agent’ x ‘Rost’), the ‘Achilles’, the ‘Boliedje’, the ‘Sterke’ and many more.

During 1950-1955 the first victories of significance were won. In this period I had a lot of pleasure from the ‘Bordeaux-roodje’, the ‘Ploes’, the ‘Karakterbontje’, the ‘Ambassadeur, the ‘Goede Vale’, the ‘Gravin’ and the ‘Baviaan’. In that time my pigeon family was growing into a breed with pigeons from the Wehrmacht, Nipius, Vermeijen and Oomens!

I raced well then and regularly won championships, even in a wider area.

In 1954 I visited Mister Tournier in Lommel for the first time. Kooij from Leerdam took me there. The previous year I had started giving names according to the alphabet. A young pigeon that I got (my first Tournier) was a Dark Checker with a splash of reddy bronze on the breast. Her name was ‘Bronsje’. Later the ‘Etje’ came out of the ‘Lange Lichte’, the ‘Frasette’ and ‘Fortuna’ and after a few years the ‘Granaat’.

From Sport magazine ‘De Duif’ of November 1968.

Bottom right a page out of the breeding book 1959 of the late Jacques Tournier. At the bottom of this page it is clear to see that the ‘Goudklompje’ was born on 11th May, and that she came out of ‘Blauwe Stap’ x ‘Blauw 244-’57’.

The Tourniers were, so I thought at first, not better than my own pigeons. My own birds even appeared to be stronger. Also a bit more sturdy and more hardy pigeons and able to withstand bad weather. The Tourniers started to compete with my pigeons and I supervised them and watched, not even looking at the results. And of course: the established breed won from the pigeons that hadn’t formed into a real team yet. The Tourniers then gave more good youngsters, won more prizes and were faster. Then I made a ruthless selection, without looking at which pigeons I removed! Only quality was important. And now 90 per cent of my pigeons were pure Tournier, but adjusted to my own circumstances.

They are all  mainly Tourniers although through influences because of the district I raced to and through selection they were maybe a bit narrower and longer, and also a tiny bit smaller! A remnant of Vermeijen, Oomens and Nipius blood is still in the ‘Pimpernel’, the ‘Uiltje’, the ‘Vos’, the ‘Vriend’, ‘Vriendin’, ‘Wesp’, ‘Vrijer’, ‘Tonnie’, ‘Ria’ and a few others.

My breed is now more then 90 per cent Tournier. Because those with a little bit of different blood are still for the most part of Tournier origin.

It has been like this for over 15 years now, and all those years they have raced well.”

There you are! As clear as can be. The popularity of the van den Hoek pigeons became apparent after his death. They were sold to a large crowd of very interested fanciers for a record average price in the total sale – organized by ‘De Duif’ – on 5th July 1979. Edmond Tournier spent a lot of money during this sale too. He bought three of the best van den Hoek champions, ‘Vechter’, ‘Weerlicht’ and ‘Zijspoor’ and brought them, together with the ‘Ciska’ (the only daughter of the famous ‘Zwaar’), back to the lofts in Lommel.

A real stroke of genius because … these van den Hoek pigeons went down in history!

Especially the ‘ooievaar’ or  Grizzle colour became very popular all over the world. Not only in Holland, where Dick Postma, the Boesten brothers (superstars of the year 1993 on the middle-distance), father and son Spies, Jan van Ekeren and many others raced very well with this breed. The same happened in Belgium with Alois V.D. Plas from Rijkevorsel, ex-Union King, national winner and so on, and with De Zutter in Ninove. Also for de Rijst (and through this loft with Eric Limbourg), for D’Hondt from Semmerzake, Maurice Vaes from Zonhoven and for Lode Visschers from Kwaadmechelen. And there are many more, like in the USA and in Taiwan, they are wanted everywhere.

And how often is the van den Hoek blood ‘hidden’ in pigeons. Like in the renowned champions duo ‘Yasmine’ and ‘Bourgesman’ from the super loft Jos Vercammen and son from Vremde. Or in ‘de Lotenhulle’ from Georges De Haes, later the brothers Herbots. In all these pigeons the Tournier-van den Hoek blood is apparent. Simply because these pigeons can add ‘something’ to every pigeon, no matter of which pedigree or class. And in the pigeon sport that ‘something’ is often the difference between winning and losing.

A new impulse with the arrival of ‘Ouse Witooger’ (6108857/65)

In the Tournier loft there was never any hesitation to bring in a new pigeon. But that pigeon had to have real champion qualities. In 1970 such a pigeon was brought into the loft. Jacques Tournier asked Jennes from Rotselaar to buy this bird at a sale of Ceulemans from Berlaar. The cock had ring number B65/6108857 and on his ring card was written that he originated out of the ‘Dikke van 58’ x ‘Smierduivin 56’. Knowing the men from Berlaar – where money is the main thing – they won’t let a pigeon grow so old if it is not a crack. I have never found out anything more about this special breeding cock. Therefore I don’t even know if he was somehow related to the famous breed of Warre Ceulemans, although I wouldn’t be surprised because of his appearance.

Nevertheless, the ‘Oude Witoger’ grew into a new ‘Stamvader’. Coupled to the ‘Blauw 191’ (5184191/68) he gave the breed a new impulse. The ‘Blauw 191’ came out of a brother of the ‘Witpenneke 466’ x a daughter of the ‘Vos St. Vincent’ (5079174/60). Their three most significant children were the ‘Goede Donkere 555’, ‘De Goede Blauwe 55’ and the ‘Blauw 192’, all champions at 100 to 1,000 km. The ‘Blauw 192’ even flew in the lead in the race from Barcelona. And all three produced excellent youngsters. The ‘Goede Donkere 555’ became the father of the ‘Geschelpte 569′, who in turn produced the super hen ”t Bourgske’ (5090037/76) that won 1st Interprovincial Bourges against 1,755 p. and 5th national St. Vincent. The ‘Bourgske’ became the mother of the ‘Barcelona IV’ (5010386/76), that won 1st provincial Barcelona, 10th national against 8,351 p., 16th international against 15,605 p. and 35th Nat. St. Vincent against 4,307 p.

The ‘Barcelona IV’ proved to be a good breeder through his descendants, like the ‘Montauban’ (5090631/86), who won among others 1st provincial Cahors and 4th provincial Montauban. And like the ‘Jackpot’ (1st Chartres against 18,499 p.). The ‘Bourgske’ became grandmother of ‘Het Wonder van Gennep’ . This pigeon became for the Janssen brothers from Gennep 1st Ace long-distance of Holland at ‘De Vredesduif’ with among others 3rd national Bergerac M. against 22,761p. and 7th national Dax M. against 5,977 p.

The same applied to the ‘Goede Blauwe 55’. He produced the ‘Goede Donkere 206’ (5030206/74), that won the 1st prize five times and became the father of many champions, like the ‘Wondere Blauwe 013’ 5090013/76. One of his grandchildren even won a car for W. Hoogmoed.

That the ‘Blauw 192’ was also a super pigeon was proved when she became the mother of ‘de 917’ of Piet v.d. Merwe. The ‘de 917’ became a car winner for Piet and for his nephew Peter as well.

To be continued…