Home > Features > The King of Rome, Famous Derby Racing Pigeon from 1913

The King of Rome, Famous Pigeon from Derby
The King of Rome - Charlie Hudson's famous racing Pigeon
Who was Charlie Hudson?
The owner of the "King of Rome" was from a Derby family of Pigeon fanciers.
Born in the early 1870s, and one of a family of four children, he grew up in the West End of Derby, the area of sprawling terraces alongside Friar Gate.
Charles worked as a gas lamp lighter for Derby Corporation.
He also earned money as a basket maker and ran a pot shop from his house at 56 Brook Street (Now demolished). It was in the back yard of this house that he had his pigeon loft.

At one time Charles owned a short-distance racing pigeon that won 36 first prizes. After the fame of the record-breaking 1913 race, he had many offers for the winning bird, including from America.

Charles eventually presented the "King of Rome" to Derby Museum in 1946, and died on 13th March 1958 aged 84.
Photograph of Charlie Hudson
The King of Rome This magnificent specimen is The King of Rome and is available to view in the "Treasures of Derby" pages of Derby Museums’ website. Even though this exhibit is over 80 years old it is in excellent condition.

The WINNING bird - The King of Rome - was donated to Derby Museum in 1946.
Find out more in the Treasures of Derby web pages at


Dave Sudbury who hails from Derby, his best known song "The King of Rome" tells the story of a Pigeon bred in the West End of Derby, it has been re-recorded by Canadian folk star, Garnet Rogers, and June Tabor which is on her hit album Aqaba.

Dave's songs have been performed and recorded by many artists, including folk Goddess June Tabor, Mike Harding and local group No Right Turn.
King of Rome website

CD - King of Rom - Songs by Dave Sudbury - Click here for more information on this CD.
Book - The King of Rome by Dave Sudbury Illustrated by Hans Saefkow In the early 20th century, a man named Charlie Hudson raised racing pigeons in Derby, England. In 1913, he entered his best bird in a race all the way from Rome. A devastating storm came through on the day of the race and all the pigeons disappeared all but Charlie Hudson's pigeon, which found international acclaim as the "King of Rome." This lovely picture book follows the true story of Charlie and his amazing pigeon, and the hope they brought to his working class world. Gorgeous pencil and crayon illustrations capture both the era and the sense of flight.

King of Rome by Dave Sudbury Illustrated by Hans Saefkow.

ISBN-10: 1-894965-94-9
ISBN-13: 978-1-894965-94-1
32 pages, Children Ages 8 & up

Available to buy now

King of Rome on Amazon UK

Amazon USA

Wal mart USA

From article in The Racing Pigeon magazine August 2nd 1913
Rome Race
Mr C.H. Hudson, of Derby, is to be congratulated on having notified an arrival in Rome race Tuesday last. The bird
has proved itself capable of great endurances and of suffering much fatigue, and possessing wonderful staying power
to make its way back from Rome to Derby. Up till
Tuesday evening out of the 1200 birds sent by Belgian fanciers, 62 birds had been notified. The percentage as a rule
that get back of birds sent to Rome by Belgian fanciers works out on average at 7 per cent, so that
there are hopes yet that there will be some more English birds home. At any rate, the distance has been
accomplished eclipsing all past long-distance records in the United Kingdom.
When it was sent to Rome it was rung as NU1907DY168

The Racing Pigeon Magazine is still in publication today...

Click here for a route map showing the possible flight that the King of Rome took.

Watch the Video here :

This video requires V8 or higher, your flash player is out of date. Please upgrade it..

Or The King of Rome on Vimeo.



© Andy Savage © www.derbyphotos.co.uk