On Your Marks: Bletchley Park Hosts Grand Prix For Pigeons

More than 500 pigeons took part in the race which last took place in 1928.

A 120-mile pigeon race involving hundreds of birds has taken place at Bletchley Park, in the first competition of its kind for 90 years.

The House of Commons versus House of Lords race has been resurrected to raise money for charity and commemorate the centenary of the First World War.

More than 500 pigeons took part in the race which last happened in 1928.

Members of the Commons and Lords were offered the chance to sponsor a pigeon for charity.

The winning pigeon was sponsored by Alberto Costa, MP for South Leicestershire. His pigeon made the flight back home in two hours, four minutes and 46 seconds. In second place came Nick Boles, MP for Grantham and Stamford and in third place Baroness Manningham-Buller. 

"We've had significant support from the Prime Minister down - the Prime Minister's sponsored five pigeons," says Conservative MP Chris Davies.

"Right across both houses and right across the parties people are happy to give money to Combat Stress for this great race."

Pigeon racing

During both World Wars, hundreds of thousands of carrier pigeons were used - most to transport messages and playing a key role.

"These birds are tremendous, they're fantastic athletes," says Ian Evans from the Royal Pigeon Racing Association. 

"There's no other animal or bird on the planet that can match their speed or endurance.

"They can fly speeds up to 70mph, you can liberate them in the south of France in the morning and they'll be home by teatime."