Ivanhoe Pigeon Club takes flight after 70 years

The Ivanhoe Pigeon Club attracted plenty of interest at auction.
The Ivanhoe Pigeon Club attracted plenty of interest at auction.

The much-loved Ivanhoe Pigeon Club is set to leave its nest after almost 70 years.

Dwindling member numbers and parking problems are understood to be behind the sale of 106 Waterdale Rd, Ivanhoe, which has been a meeting point for humans and their feathered friends since the early 1950s.

Townhouses or apartments could find themselves perched on the 152sqm site near Ivanhoe’s train station, which is expected to fetch upwards of $610,000 at a late-March auction.

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Long-time member Ed Sheehan says many people don’t know the unassuming red brick building is a pigeon club despite its lengthy roost.

“When people see us out the front, they ask what we’re doing, and many of them comment they always thought it was just an electrical substation,” Sheehan says.

But it might be a reflection of the times, with pigeons no longer the hottest trend, according to Sheehan.

Ivanhoe Pigeon Club

Agent Chris Macey and club members Ed Sheehan (middle), Des Twomey (left) and Neville Stone (right).
Picture: Stuart Milligan.

“I was about 13 when I joined in around 1963 and the club was built in the early ’50s,” he says. “In those days you played footy, cricket and a lot of kids had pigeons … pigeons were very fashionable.

“In every street you went down, people had them.”

The club was part of the Victorian Homing Association and is believed that there were about 650 members back in 1963, a far cry from 120 pigeon-enthusiasts on its books today.

But he doesn’t blame people for flying the coop; rearing pigeons to race as far as 1120kms is a time-consuming hobby in a time-poor world.

Ivanhoe Pigeon Club

The Ivanhoe Pigeon Club’s store room.

“It’s easier now cars are everywhere, but to train them to fly home back in the day, we’d drop them off at Ivanhoe station, put them on the train, and they’d take them down to Stony Point and release them for us,” he said.

“But it’s a bit of a dying hobby now … it’s time consuming and people have other things to do these days.

“The other thing you need is a big backyard, and people are selling theirs off. The new-builds only have small ones.”

The club plans to amalgamate with another closing its doors and set up in a new location.

Ivanhoe Pigeon Club

There are also reception and office rooms inside.

“We wanted to spend some money doing it up, but it’s just too busy here now … parking is very difficult,” he says.

Miles Real Estate agent Christopher Macey is handling the sale and chasing $610,000-$660,000 for the property.

“We’re expecting interest will come from a variety of buyers,” Macey says.

“Opportunities for residential use could be a warehouse conversion, potential high-rise or townhouses, subject to council approval. Or it could suit a commercial or mixed-use front.”

The building will go under the hammer on Saturday, March 24 at 2pm.

This article from Leader Newspapers first appeared as “Ivanhoe Pigeon Club set to fly the coop after almost 70 years”.