Obituary: George Cosmo Monkhouse

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It was terribly sad, but not altogether unexpected, because he had bravely fought illness for a long time, patiently and lovingly nursed by his wife Connie, to hear of the death of George Monkhouse MRPS, at the age of 86. After reading engineering at Jesus College, Cambridge, he joined the Kodak Company, where he remained all his working life, retiring as their Chief Engineer. This link with Kodak enabled George to persuade his employers to let him go to pre-war Grand Prix races all over Europe, at a time when Mercedes-Benz and AutoUnion were stamping new standards on such racing. A close friend of Dick Seaman, George travelled from circuit to circuit in his open vintage 4 1/2-litre Bentley, which must have astonished the Continental race circus.

Seeing the quality of his photographs in his book Motorraces, in 1937 Daimler-Benz gave Monkhouse a specially privileged position from which to exercise his photographic skills. This enabled him to see the inside of their fantastic organisation and from this came George’s great book “Motor Racing With Mercedes-Benz”, published by Newnes in 1938. It contained the immaculate pictures Monkhouse took, using Speed Graphic, Graflex, Type II Retina and Cine-Kodak cameras, and Kodak SS Pan film packs and Panatomatic film. The 5 x 4 Speed Graphic had a 6 1/2 in 13.5 Zeiss Tessar Lenzs, with which GM used a shutter speed of some 1/750th second, with a stop of 15.6 or 14.5, or 13.5 in bad light — but I don’t suppose that means much to presentday cameramen. The SS Pan negatives took 10 min. at 67deg F to develop, the Panatomatic film 16 min at 67deg F A3 in. Telephoto lenses were part of the equipment, and later came Kodachrome, for colour photography. Before the war, by showing his films at club meetings, Monkhouse spread the gospel of Grand Prix racing far and wide. W B