Percy Monkman – Artist

March is already upon us, and this month’s History Society meeting (on 13th March) features author Martin Greenwood talking about the life and work of his grandfather, the acclaimed local artist Percy Monkman. Percy Monkman’s life can be summed up in one phrase: “A job in banking, a life in the arts”. By day Percy Monkman worked in the same Bradford bank for 40 years, indeed the same office, ending up as chief cashier. Everything else about Percy was totally unconventional. By night, at weekends, on holidays he transformed himself into an entertainer, actor, artist and cartoonist whose work was regularly acclaimed by the public and held in great respect by colleagues.

He came from a humble working-class family in the Toller Lane area of Bradford and left school when he was fourteen. He joined the Bradford Civic Theatre in the 1930s and the Bradford Arts Club in the 1920s. Subjects for his paintings included the moors above Haworth, the Dales and the Pennines, Bolton Abbey, Bingley Fair, Forster Square, the canal at Shipley and Otley Chevin.

Martin has written an affectionate and comprehensive biography of Percy, published by Plash Mill Press, £24.49. A small number of copies of the book will be available to buy on the night (cash only please).

Anyone is welcome to attend the meeting. Entry costs £3.50 (free if you are a history society member). The meetings are upstairs in the local studies library of Keighley Library on North Street. Doors open at 7pm, the meeting starts at around 7.20pm and Martin’s talk will begin at 7.30pm. We finish around 8.30pm. Please use the side entrance to the library on Albert Street if you are arriving after 7pm. Anyone is welcome to come along and if people wish to join the society they can pay in cash on the night (membership for the rest of 2024 costs £15 or £20 for a couple living at the same address).

The history society is 20 years old in 2024. It organises monthly meetings which are free to attend if you are a member (alternatively you can join via Zoom if you are a member). It has its own website and Facebook page, and it runs a Flickr site with over 20,000 images on that anyone is welcome to look at. It produces four newsletters a year which are sent to members via email, and it tries to organise at least one special visit a year.