He was lord of the Todmorden park jungle. And here's how Jacko the Monkey came to fascinate a generation!

A POPULAR childhood memory has resurfaced as Todmorden residents of a certain age reminisce about one of Centre Vale Park's most unusual attractions.

It has been more than 30 years since Jacko the monkey entertained visitors to the park with his antics and thoughts have turned to what led to him arriving in town.

The Todmorden News has received letters enquiring if anybody has a photo or any information about the African grass monkey. Memories of him surfaced on the Todtalk chatroom with the hunt for a picture under way but so far everyone seems to have drawn a blank where images of Jacko are concerned.

After reading the letters and comments, Martin Barnes, who used to own Jacko, has come forward to reveal the story of the monkey's life.

Martin bought Jacko in 1964-65 when he was in the Merchant Navy. He said: "I was travelling from Durban to North America. We stopped off at the Cape Verde Islands and a small boat selling African artefacts came up alongside with a monkey on it. I wanted him and another chap wanted him so we tossed a coin and I won.

"I let him run loose on the ship and put food out for him. When it came to trying to catch him, it was a bit tricky. I had to run up poles, put him in my shirt and climb down - not easy on choppy seas."

The ship travelled around the world for a while before docking in Avonmouth. His mum and dad came to meet him and took Jacko to their home on Hollins Road, Walsden. He said: "There were no quarantine restrictions back then. He had travelled a bit before he made it to Todmorden."

Martin's parents kept Jacko as a pet and had a cage built in the corner of their living room for him but when he got out he was a bit "lively".

Martin said: "It wasn't working out for mum and dad so they decided to give him to the park.

"He lived a long and fruitful life. He lived in a cage in the summertime and then in the greenhouse during the winter to keep him warm. He did grow to be quite a big fella."

Jacko drew a lot of visitors to the park and many parents recollect taking their sons and daughters along to see him. Martin said: "I'm sure I took my children to the park to see him. He was a popular attraction."

l DO you have a picture of Jacko? If you do we'd love to hear from you! You can conntact our newsdesk on telephone 01706 815731 or by email on: