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When "Percy" Got Up To His Monkey Tricks

Ilkeston Advertiser April 29th 1960

A PLAYFUL young monkey, Percy by name,
Wished for freedom, fun and fame.
Climbed a house, ran on the roof,
While crowds watched in awe, he stood aloof.
Bananas galore were used in vain
To entice the truant down again.
Then along came Zoo Man Healey, heart of brick,
Climbed a ladder and grabbed Percy quick.
Sad to relate he released his hold
And off went Percy, still as bold.
Like a flash he ran down the lane
And he never was ever seen again.

T.H. Radford Superintendent

Not quite the full story, but the way Superintendent T. H. Radford, of the Mines Rescue Station, Manners Road, summed up the adventures of "Percy," the four-year-old, four-foot high, pet monkey of Mr. William Roberts, of 72 High Lane East, West Hallam. Percy escaped from his "home" - a converted lamp house in the disused Manners Colliery yard-on Saturday night after children had broken a window in his cabin. He was free for 12 hours despite the efforts of men from the Mines Rescue Station, the police, and a R.S.P.C.A. inspector from Nottingham, to capture him.

It was about 7 p.m. when Percy got away and he set off towards the Rutland Hotel where, perhaps finding Ilkeston too dull for his liking, he tried to board a bus and get into people's cars when they opened the doors.

But by then the alarm had been raised and police officers and an R.S.P.C.A. inspector joined in the monkey hunt.

uring the chase Percy jumped on to the roof of a police patrol car but made Off again before the officers could grab him.

Percy and Mr Roberts

Ray - Phil and Terry


Percy's monkey business might have had a more tragic ending if it had not been for Phil Healey, who pulled him down from a rooftop in Manor Road, and his mates from the Mines Rescue Station, Ray Davis (left) and Terry Astle (right), who, with Sgt. Hartley, of Ilkeston police, held the net which broke his fall, Early on Sunday morning, Percy was caught on the Manor Ground by his owner, Mr. William Roberts, and our picture shows him safely back with him in Manners Colliery yard.


He headed back towards home but took refuge on the roof of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Thorley's house, at 59 Manor Road after climbing up the drain pipe.
Said Mr. Thorley:- 'We were watching television in the front room when my wife noticed a crowd gathering outside. I went to the door but Police-sergt. Hartley shouted and warned me to stay put because there was a monkey on my roof. When I got over the shock I went out and had a look at him. He was parading along the rooftop and I thought he would spring off at any moment.
"He was up there for about four hours from 7-30 p.m."
Among the enthralled spectators were men from the Mines Rescue Station and they obtained a ladder and the net from their tennis court. Then the police car arrived bringing a goal-net.
Followed by Mines Rescue Worker Albert Sheffield the R.S.P.C.A. inspector climbed the ladder and tried to tempt Percy by giving him a banana containing sleeping capsules.
Percy gratefully ate the banana and cheerfully spate out the pills.
He was eventually brought down' by Philip Healey, of 11 Manners Avenue, who also works at the Rescue Station,
"I Stopped and watched the monkey before I went to the pictures with my wife," Mr. Healey told the "Advertise". "We got home at about 10.20 p.m. and it was still on the roof so we watched it again until about 11 p.m.
"Then I went across and asked the police if I could go up and fetch it down. Sgt. Hartley asked me if I knew what I was doing and I had to admit that I didn't.
"But I went up the ladder and stopped up there with the monkey for about ten minutes. I tried to get on the roof but Percy wouldn't let me. It tried to strike and bite me and I had to punch it away. Fortunately I was wearing a leather glove. Then it got more friendly and I let it play with my hand.
"Sgt. Hartley and two mines rescue men, Terry Astle and Ray Davis, held a net and I was able to catch the monkey by the wrist and pull it off the roof."
But Percy was not caught as easily as that.
"It dropped into the net but bounced out again before they could catch it," Mr. Healey continued "It leapt over the hedge and ran down the road to Manor Farm. I saw it, climb a tree but the branch broke and it fell off and then ran on to the Manor Ground. That was the last I saw of it.
"My mates are calling me 'Zoo man Healey' he said with a rueful grin. "I'll never live this down."

Gave Up At Midnight

As it was then about midnight, they decided to give up the chase till daylight allowing several weary policemen to resume normal duty.
Mr. Roberts, the owner, was contacted and when he arrived at 7 a.m. on Sunday morning, Percy's freedom soon ended.
"He was in a treetop and wouldn't come down while the police were there. But as soon as they were out of sight he came quickly and I was able to Slip his collar on." said Mr. Roberts, who runs a cafe and pleasure ground at Matlock Bath. "Percy is the only monkey I have got now and I keep him at Manners Colliery during the winter. I've got a workshop there and I am near him most of the day."
Relieved to get Percy back, Mr. Roberts added, "Monkeys are difficult to get but I hone to buy two more for Whitsuntide."

Tailpiece: Several people reported to the police that they had been bitten by Percy and they were advised to report to Ilkeston General Hospital for a check-up, But a hospital spokesman said only one man had been for treatment for a monkey bite. He was given an injection and allowed to go home.

On Rescue Stations things are queer
Men smoke fags and like their beer
Bets galore, on every matter
Playing jokes and idle chatter
The latest thing is very weird
Brigadesman Phil has grown a beard.

Gordon Weston


Working on the Station

Life Off The Station

Chesterfield Station

Mansfield Rescue Station