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

The ‘Reds’ and the ‘Blacks’

The Tournier breed has always had a considerable diversity in colours. Jacques once told me that he liked it that way. Because of the diversity in origin and the relatively large amount of pigeons the scale of possibilities was enormous within his own stock. Vitality, character and stamina had always been more important then a certain type of pigeon. The typical ‘sports pigeon’ was what they looked for. Despite the fact that most pigeons are somehow related through interbreeding, specific lines are still recognized. For example, the ‘Black Jack’ goes back to the old Hansenne and Dupont origin through the famous ‘Zwarte 69’.

With the red, ‘vale’ (mealy) and ‘vos’ (fox) colours there are more possibilities, as the previous shows. These could even go back to the ‘Rooie’ (NL 77/2560919) of Sjefke den Ouden from Halsteren (Netherlands). This ‘world champion of the sky’ (so called by Piet de Weerd) won in the very difficult St. Vincent of 1983 1st National against 30,683 p. + the car. Before that he already excelled with among others 8th nat. St. Vincent against 14,645 p. and 16th nat. Dax against 6,981 p.

The ‘Rooie’ was mostly of the line Janssen x Debaere x Lichtenberg/Aarden and Edmond and I bought him in July 1983. After he raised a few of youngsters he went to Mr. Kaku in Japan. Edmond had good results with the input of this champion. A very famous ‘vale’ hen of the line Tournier was the ‘Vaal’ (H71-223961) of Henk Beunen. She won the 4th prov. Bergerac against 4,342 p. in 1975, 2nd nat. St. Vincent against 15,454 p. and 5th nat. Dax against 6,835 p. in 1976 and 8th nat. St. Vincent against 15,417 p. in 1978. Another champion was ‘Het Vaal’ of farmer Hub Wiertz from Vijlen. In 1983 this pigeon flew more than an hour ahead in the National from Dax. She went into the breeding lofts of Piet de Weerd under the name of ‘Isabel’.

A son of ‘Kuyper 57’ x ‘Smaragd I’ also went to Lommel for breeding between us together with a son and daughter of ‘Oud Doffertje I’ from Albert Simons and a daughter of the ‘Gouden Koppel’ from Braakhuis.

Success elsewhere

I think that there is no other breed, that has had such a lot of success in other lofts than the breed of father and son Tournier from Lommel. I already mentioned several examples. And there are many more. The distribution of the Tournier pigeons had already started in the thirties. The Tournier breed is so much a part of the present day racing pigeon that many do not even mention it (deliberate or otherwise). Often because it is not even known. Not until the anniversary volume ’40 years of Grondelaers’ was published was it known that the ‘Orleans I and II’ and the ‘Dax’ had fathers from the Tournier line through Fernand Kellens and Alfons Geyskens.

And I would wager a beer that Pros Roosen never suspected that his ‘Supercrack 327’ was of Tournier origin by way of that same Kellens line. All this is relative of course. Because after several generations the impact of a certain line gets diluted. And sometimes the line of origin is only mentioned to make a pigeon more interesting. I have come across enough names like ‘Blauwe Janssen’ or ‘Goede Donkere Stichelbaut’. After inquiring further it then appeared that there was only a very distant forefather that maybe had some Janssen or Stichelbaut blood in it.

I will name a few more that really had good results with Tournier pigeons. Shortly after the war, there was Louis Bertrand, who bought a 20 day old youngster from Tournier. He won with this pigeon many prizes in Bilzen (Belgium Limburg). He even won 95,000 Francs on five Sundays, and in those days that was a lot of money. Because of his success his brothers started racing too (of course with pigeons from Tournier) and after a few years they too became champions.

I already mentioned the success of René Maes. The renowned Trommelen from Dongen (Netherlands) won with his ‘Jonge Donkere Tournier’ six first prizes in seven races! The ’01’ of Jan Pot from Utrecht was a direct Tournier. He became one of the greatest champions in the history of the Dutch pigeon sport. Tournier pigeons too were the ‘Coppie’ and the ‘Bartali’ of the late Cor de Zeeuw, owner of magazine ‘Neerlands Postduiven Orgaan’ and founder of the National St. Vincent. In the period after the war there were also van Gent from Baarn, van Minnen from Beverwijk, Peels from Luyksgestel, Kooy from Leerdam, Geerlings and Wolters from Posterholt and Pastoor Gillissen from Simpelveld.

As mentioned before, Alfons Geyskens from Testelt also had Tourniers. That came about as follows. Before the war Geyskens had great success, but after the war he couldn’t win anymore. In 1947 and 1948 he bought a large number of youngsters from Tournier, which resulted in his come-back: General champion of the Belgium pigeon sport in 1952 and one of the best lofts in the country.

More Belgium names from the fifties and sixties are among others: Frans Rekelhof from Bree (who was already successful with Tournier when racing in Holland), Lucien Detand from Balen and above all Louis Pepermans from Zemst. Jan Aarts brought Louis Pepermans to Lommel in the long, hot summer of 1959. They bought a small youngster with ring number B59/5048269. Parents of this pigeon were the ‘Stap’ (B54/6165053) and the B57/5036244. The ‘Stap’ came out of the ‘Kleine Lichte Vesters’ x ‘Witpen de Laat’, directly from Grandmaster Emile Stappaerts from Hoboken. The ‘Blauw 244’ had as father the ‘Donkere 56’ (5016056/56) and as mother a daughter of the ‘Grote Blauwe Maes’. The ‘Donkere 506’ was half Hermans by way of the ‘Vos 064’ and half ‘Kleine Blauwe Maes’.

The ‘269/59’ from Louis Pepermans became one of the best breeding hens of the country and she got the name ‘Goudklompje’. After the death of Louis Pepermans the then nine (!) years old ‘Goudklompje’ was sold for the highest price of the sale. But then, she had proved herself by producing real cracks with various cocks!

The flow of Tournier references was endless. Reports of his success came from everywhere. In the Netherlands van Lierop from Helmond won the 1st National Barcelona in 1960 with a Tournier pigeon and in 1967 Offermans did the same in Bingelrade. In 1959 Cor de Zeeuw had won the 1st National Ruffec with his ‘Jonge Rooie’. And more names: Westerhuis from Gouda, Booij from Dordrecht, v.d. Heuvel from Delft, Jan van Hooydonk from Ekeren, Drost from Sassenheim, Martens from Luik, Coppie de Groot from Dordrecht, Dick Postma from Leeuwarden, Spronck from Cadier en Keer, Loncke from Neerpelt, van Leen-Hoogmoed from Dordrecht, de Raay from Nuth, Van Landeghem from Kruibeke, Catoen from De Bilt, Carlens from Zepperen (by way of v.d. Hoek), Kruijs from Asperen, Hagers from Berkel, Leusink from Neede, Hofstedde from Glanerbrug, van Lune from Buitenpost, Poels from Halen, v.d. Molen from Delfzijl, Verstappen from Sappemeer, Brandsma and Jager from Groningen, Reitsma, Duinstra and Bergsma from Friesland, Ueberbach from Kessel, M. v. Gastel from Roosendaal, Fam. Heeren from St. Willebrord, Hub Hendrix from Weert, Castricum from Beverwijk, de Weers from Beverwijk, P. v.d. Borre from Hoeilaart, Mielekamp, Frans van Dijck from Ramsel, Gubbels from Blerick and many, many more.

Ludo Claessens from Putte, Holland, bought a grizzle hen out of the line of the ‘Vechter’. She won first prize with a lead on thousands of pigeons and did very well as a breeder later on. Another Dutch champion, Piet v.d. Merwe, owes most of his fame to pigeons of Tournier. The cock and hen of his amazing ‘Stam Koppel’ were both 100 per cent direct Tourniers, as was his ‘Best Youngsterof the Nederlands’. The famous ‘Smaragd’s’ have Tournier blood in them too, by way of the ’20 Duif’ from Jan Theelen.

In short: year after year over the whole world, there were national winners, national Aces and car winners who were bred out of Tournier pigeons. On the east coast of the USA.

Peranio became champion with a Tournier pigeon, and later Dr. Alfred Piaget did the same. On the west coast – in California – the ‘Lucky Strike’ from Brad La Verne (Happyco Lofts) was in a class of its own.

The Dutch national champion middle-distance 1993, Koos van Koppen, has mainly Tourniers in his family, as does the ‘Superstar of the year – Gouden Duif’ middle-distance, the combination Spies and Son. I could go on and on! My apologies to all the fanciers who had success with Tournier pigeons that haven’t been named.

I think that it is clear enough, that ‘hits’ with Tournier pigeon weren’t exceptions. Let’s end this part with a quotation out of the much honoured book ‘Masters of Breeding and Racing’ from Grandmaster Victor Vansalen: “THERE WILL PROBABLY NEVER BE AN END TO THE SUCCESS STORY OF THE TOURNIERS, AS LONG AS THE PIGEON SPORT EXISTS”.

A few current Cracks

We already talked about legendary champions of the past, like ‘Valk’, ‘Goede Kleine’, ‘Zolder’ and ‘Baron’. There were many more, but it is impossible of course to describe them all. After my description of the origin and growth of the ‘Tournier breed’, I will now run through a few champions of the later years. I shall start with the, already during his life, legendary

‘Black Jack’ (B81/5061335).

‘Black Jack’ is a super athlete, such a pigeon every fancier dreams about. His father was the then already very old ‘Goede Geschelpte 010’ from ’69. The ‘010’ had been a formidable crack in his younger years and had won several first prizes with a big lead. He was one of the grandsons of the famous ‘Zwarte 69′, who appears also on the mother’s side of the pedigree. And twice we see the ’01 Pot’, going back to the old dark ‘Colpar line’ from Hansenne/Gurnay. And then there was the brother of the ‘Goudklompje’ ( I think of Pepermans) in the pedigree.

The ‘Black Jack’, as said before, is an exceptional champion. Besides first and lead prizes in other races, his most impressive achievement was on 16th June 1984. A fine summer day with a wind strenghtening from the east and temperatures up to 30 degrees Celcius. The 5,007 participating pigeons in the national Cahors were released at 6.10 AM. For the closer situated fanciers it promised to be a fine long-distance race, but in faraway Limburg they expected themselves to loose again. But then: Edmond trusted his favorite, ‘Black Jack’. He pooled him nationally up until 1,000 francs!

And here’s what happened: the trust of the boss wasn’t betrayed. Because after more than 13 hours fighting against the wind and struggling in the heat, ‘Black Jack’ appeared as a small black dot beside the church tower in Lommel. Like an arrow from a bow, he plummeted through the window and precisely at 19.16 PM the time was recorded. The impossible had happened: 1st provincial and 1st inter-provincial over a distance of 815 km, and fastest pigeon of all northern provinces! With 30th national he was well up in the 1,000 pool! Stunts like that have been achieved more than once in the rich Tournier history. It characterizes the special qualities of the Tournier pigeon.

And after a brilliant career as a racer, ‘Black Jack’ moved into the breeding loft to accomplish even more stunts. There was his son ‘De Montauban’ (5090631/86), that also won 1st Provincial Cahors and 4th Provincial Montauban. He also won 2nd Provincial Ace Marathon Limburg. The ‘Marathonduivinneke’ (5030700/87) is a direct daughter of ‘Black Jack’. She won among others 8th Provincial Pau and 18th Interprovincial Perpignan. She also won 3rd Provincial Ace long-distance Marathon Limburg.

A third topper out of ‘Black Jack’ was the ‘Cahors II’ (5150305/88), that twice won the 1st prize from Cahors, and also won 19th and 30th provincial Cahors, 65th provincial Brive and 22nd provincial Perpignan. Furthermore there was ‘Den Brive’ (9th provincial Brive), ‘De Neger’ (1st Vervins) and many more.

Many fanciers are having succes with his descendants. For instance Johan Bergsma won 1st provincial Bergerac with a grandson of ‘Black Jack’. And ‘Jackpot’ – another grandson – excelled with 1st Chartres against 9,489 p. (fastest of 18,499 p.).

‘De Schone Meeuw’ (5030526/87) really is one of the treasures of the present Tournier family. He only raced for a few years but proved his enormous talent with among others 1st Limoges (17th provincial), 4th Jarnac and so on. He is fully inbred from the legendary v.d. Hoek champion ‘De Vechter’ (NL73/718166). Edmond brought him to the breeding loft early on. He realized from the start that such a pigeon as ‘De Schone Meeuw’ is of enormous importance. And he was right, ‘De Schone Meeuw’ produced many champions. Especially in other lofts, because his offspring is so in demand that it is difficult to keep enough of them in the lofts in Lommel.

‘Het Goed Voske 63’ (5005063/85) represents the renowned Vosse-line in this overview. He is a grandson of two very important stock pigeons from the seventies, the ‘Goede Blauwe 312’ (among others 1st provincial Chateauroux, 1st Gr. Gewestelijk Toury) and the ‘Vos 410 van ’70’. His pedigree shows all the old proven Tournier lines, like ‘Goede Vale 337’, ‘Goede Kleine’, ‘Drinker’ and ‘Plymouth’. The ‘Goed Voske 63’ won 1st prizes from Melun and Argenton and flew ahead provincial and semi-national several times. Afterwards he proved to be a sublime breeding pigeon.

I already mentioned the two semi-national winners that are still in the loft, ‘Argenton III’ and ‘Jarnacduivin I’. They are the proof that the present Tournier pigeon is still capable to compete with the best of the country. That they have speed, stamina and character.

‘De Goede Donkere 186’ (5005186/85) is another real champion. He comes out of the ‘Goede Meeuw 590’ x a half-sister of ‘Black Jack’, who’s mother was the hen ‘Geschelpt 616’ (line ‘Valk’), that as yearling won 11th national in a very difficult St. Vincent. The ‘Goede Donkere 186’ came especially into his element on the difficult one-day long-distance races. And he also proved to be a good breeder through his son, the formidable ‘Trusty’.

‘De Bourgesman’ (B89/5090208) excelled especially on the provincial Orleans and Bourges races:

– 15th Provincial Bourges against 4,944 p.

– 87th Provincial Orleans against 7,127 p.

– 14th Provincial Bourges against 779 p. and so on.

He is very strongly inbred from the amazing ‘Witpenneke 466’ with in addition the ‘Cartouche’ and the ‘Baron’.

‘Het Goed Voske 12’ (5005012/85) is both a grandson of ‘Rooie den Ouden’ and of ‘Vos 410 van ’70’. He won among others 1st Meaux 1985 and is the father of ”t Rood 056′, that flew 17th International Pau.

The last two in this article are the youngest cracks, the ‘Perpignan I’ (5010116/90) and the ‘Jarnacduivin 2’ (5020727/91). They both come out of the same mother, a daughter of the ‘Barcelona IV’, who was coupled to a daughter of the ‘Vos 410 van ’70’. The father of the ‘Jarnacduivin 2’ comes out of a son of ‘Oud Doffertje I’ from Albert Simons (v.d. Wegen) x daughter ‘Halfbroer Baron’. It is notable that the father of the ‘Perpignan I’ comes out of a cock related to the ‘Barcelona IV’ and ‘Baron’, while its mother is a daughter of the said ‘Oud Doffertje I’ from Simons.

‘Jarnacduivin 2’ won among others 1st Jarnac Interprovincial with Luik. The ‘Perpignan I’ is the new super crack. In 1993 he was one of the best long-distance pigeon of Belgium already with 54th national Perpignan against 5,390 p. and 134th national Barcelona against 13,343 p. He also won 1st Interprovincial Perpignan with Luik.

To conclude

This Tournier story has become longer than I anticipated. And still I have the feeling that I haven’t told it all. You just can’t write almost a century of top level pigeon sport in one evening. But evenso, I hope that you have enjoyed it.

Waalre, January 1994

Jan Hermans