HE was loved by thousands all across the county, but for nearly 30 years, Cumbrians have been wondering whatever happened to Eric the Monkey?

The puppet, a loyal sidekick to Border TV presenter John Myers, was part of everyday life for thousands of viewers in the 1980s. After Mr Myers left Border in 1989, Eric disappeared from the screen.

But for one day only, he made a rare public appearance at Carlisle's Tullie House museum.

The cheeky chimp was there to take a peek at the Pages from History exhibition which commemorates 200 years of The Cumberland News.

Mr Myers was given a tour of the exhibition, which includes two photographs of him with his famous friend in their Border heyday - both of which have proven to be extremely popular with visitors. 

"Eric's been up in the loft for all these years," Mr Myers told The Cumberland News . 

"Even now when I'm out and about though, people still ask me 'Where's Eric?'"

Mr Myers explained that the idea to introduce Eric - who used to accompany him on reading out announcements as part of Border Birthdays - was actually a spur of the moment decision which went on to shape his television appearances for years to come. 

"I'd seen all the other people read out the birthday messages on their own, and thought it was quite boring," he recalled.

"When I was introducing other programmes, I'd always use props. For example if I was introducing the snooker I'd have a snooker cue, or I'd hold a football if there was a game on.

"We'd been on holiday to Majorca and my daughter bought a toy monkey while we were there. I was going out one day and I saw it lying by the door and thought I'd take it with me for when I read out the birthday messages - that's where Eric began."

Mr Myers added: "Having grown up in Carlisle, I know what people here are like, and I knew they'd love Eric."

What many people also may not realise, is where Mr Myers took Eric's name from - a secret he kept closely guarded, for years. 

"He was named after my old boss, Eric Hadwin," he admitted. "He'd always ask if the monkey was named after him and I'd always have to say 'Of course not!'"

Such was Eric's place in the hearts of Cumbrians, that in 1986 they were given the chance to get their very own Eric. 

"I had a thousand replicas made and they were sold in the county store," Mr Myers recalled. 

He also kept a replica for himself, which he has now handed over to Tullie House.

"It's genuinely humbling to know that some many people still fondly remember what we did on TV in those days," he added. 

"At the time it was so much fun, we had so much freedom about what we could and couldn't do, which isn't really the case now because you've got to stick to a brand image."

Amy Walker, exhibitions and events manager at Tullie House, said: "We've had around 3,000 people coming to see the exhibition so far. 

"It's great that people still remember John and Eric so fondly because it's a real part of local history."

The exhibition is supported by a souvenir exhibition guide, with more information and photography for visitors to take away for only £3.

All the photography in the exhibition is for sale including framed photographs of royal visitors, local sportspeople, music events and local landscapes.

The exhibition had been due to finish on January 31 but it's popularity means it has been extended until Sunday, February 21.