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Derby. A city for all ages

 

Natural History treasure - The King of Rome

The King of Rome title graphic
Pigeon named The King of Rome standing on a grassy mount 

The King of Rome

David Sudbury: “In a glass case in Derby Museum there’s a pigeon called ‘The King of Rome’. In 1913 it flew from Italy back to its home loft in the West End of Derby. The Old West End used to be the rough side of town and Charlie Hudson, the man who bred The King lived there. I wrote the song because it’s about the kind of place I came from and the people I knew there.”

From the original press release for The Rough With The Smooth (1987)

 

In the West End of Derby lives a working man
He says 'I can't fly, but my pigeons can;
And when I set them free, it's just like part of me
Gets lifted up on shining wings'.

Charlie Hudson's pigeon loft was down the yard
Of a rented house in Brook Street where life was hard
But Charlie had a dream, and in 1913
Charlie bred a pigeon that made his dreams come true.

There was going to be a champions' race from Italy
We got out the maps - all that land and sea!
'Charlie, you'll lose that bird', but Charlie never heard
He put it in a basket and sent it off to Rome.

On the day of the big race a storm blew in
A thousand birds were swept away and never seen again;
'Charlie, we told you so; surely by now you know
When you're living in the West End there ain't many dreams come true'.

Yeah, I know, but I had to try -
A man can crawl or he can learn to fly;
And if you live round here, the ground seems awful near.
Sometimes I need a lift from victory.

I was off with my mates for a pint or two
When I saw a wing flash up in the blue -
'Charlie, it's the King of Rome, come back to his West End home,
Come outside quick, he's perched up on your roof.'

'Come on down, your Majesty,
I knew you'd make it back to me
Come on down my lovely one
You made my dream come true.'

In the West End of Derby lives a working man
He says 'I can't fly, but my pigeons can;
And when I set them free, it's just like part of me
Gets lifted up on shining wings'.

Lyrics by Dave Sudbury

Currently not on display.

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