1:42pm Monday 17th May 2010
By Clive White
Since retiring 24 years-ago, Ernest Markham has been drawing on his experience in the RAF during the Second World War to inspire his creativity.
The walls of the 89-year-old’s terraced home in Nelson Street, Cross Roads, near Keighley, are covered in paintings of some of the iconic aircraft of that period – Spitfires, Lancaster and Hawker Hurricanes.
Hanging from the ceiling and standing on plinths in his attic studio are wooden models of the same aircraft, all of which he worked on as an engineer fitter between 1938 and 1946.
This weekend, six of his watercolour compositions are being exhibited at the Rochester Gallery in Main Street, Haworth, as part of the village’s annual 1940s weekend.
Visitors will also get a potted history of Mr Markham’s service and details of the death of his brother-in-law who died in the Battle of Britain in 1940, aged 23.
Mr Markham, who worked for 40 years at former Prince Smith and Stells engineers in Keighley, said: “Throughout my life I’ve always worked with my hands.
“When I retired I thought I’d have a go at painting and, when friends thought they were good, I carried on.
“I love aircraft and so I started painting those which I worked on during my RAF career.
“I paint landscapes as well and, living near Haworth and being born there, I’ve painted the famous locations like Top Withens and places like the Black Bull.
“I don’t sell my paintings. I know people would buy them but if I sold them, I’d lose a friend. They’re part of my life and I’m not out to make money,” said Mr Markham, who is self taught.
But if people want examples of his work, they can buy six-inch by four-inch reproductions and he is also producing larger reproductions on card.
Mr Markham, the oldest member at Riddlesden Golf Club, met his wife, Adele, when she was a transport driver in the WRAF, the Women’s Royal Air Force. She died about a year ago.
The 1940s weekend will include a fly-past by a Hurricane fighter.
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