The jungle drums have been beating in and around the village of Barton with an anonymous reader kindly collecting tales of Jacko, the monkey who lived in the Burn brothers’ haulage depot next to the Half Moon pub.

Jacko was, apparently, an African grass monkey. This must mean she was a gelada, the only grass-eating monkey, and so she came from the highlands of Ethiopia. Geladas are also known as “bleeding heart monkeys” because of a distinctive patch of red skin on their chests.

Darlington and Stockton Times: New baby gelada baboons Colchester Zoo November 2021

Female geladas, with their youngsters, at Colchester zoo. Jacko was probably a gelada

Jacko’s first residence was the Bay Horse pub in Middleton Tyas around 1960 but she caused so much havoc in the bar that she was moved to the haulage depot down the road in Barton.

READ MORE: When Jacko the monkey terrorised Barton

Darlington and Stockton Times: The Half Moon in Barton in 2005 with Jacko the monkey's depot on the right - the building is now reduced to a skeleton frame

The Half Moon at Barton in the late 1980s, with the haulage depot where Jacko lived on the right

“Nobody except Paul Burn, who looked after her very well, particularly liked her because she was not affectionate and was likely to bite visitors, so she was given a wide berth,” says our informant.

She bit several over-inquisitive boys, one of whom was taken to the doctor by a worried mother. The doctor, though, refused to believe that the lad could come by such a leg wound in Barton from a monkey bite.

“Having said that,” continues our informant, “she never seemed to bother the lorry drivers or mechanics, but she did not like women!

“She had a lead about 10ft long attached around her waist to her cage so she could run around in the garage. She would sit in front of the big paraffin heater in winter, warming her hands like a little human.”

However, she had a habit of slipping her chain and wandering off to investigate the village. The cry “monkey’s loose!” struck fear into the residents of Barton green, several of whom say they would lock themselves in their rooms or houses until Jacko was caught.

Her antics included:

• Unclipping clothes pegs on people’s washing lines so the washing dropped to the floor

• Getting into a house and rifling through a lady’s make-up bag

• Sitting outside a bathroom window and watching the man inside having a shave, mimicking his actions – he got a terrible shock when he suddenly became aware he was being watched!

• Appearing at another bathroom window when the house owner was immersed in the bath

• Jumping into a tree and taking a bite out of most the apples hanging from its branches

• Stealing shopping from ladies’ bags as they got off the bus – the last thing you’d expect on returning home from Richmond or Darlington market is to be mugged by a monkey in a rural village.

It is uncertain how long Jacko lived. We’ve had reports of her biting boys from 1978 and possibly even into the 1980s. The typical lifespan of a gelada is 15 years, but that is in the wild grasslands of Ethiopia.

Around a paraffin fire in a Barton haulage depot, Jacko the gelada seems to have lived much longer.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Geladas with the Simien Mountains in the background. Picture: Trevor Jenner.

Geladas with the Simien Mountains in Ethiopia in the background. There are not many similarities with Barton in North Yorkshire. Picture: Trevor Jenner