3 Feb 2011

Gordon Cobbold, back again

A while ago I entered an article on this blog about a distant relation, who was a successful motorbike racer in the 1920's. His name is Gordon Cobbold, and here is the link to that post :

I have just come across another picture of the man, showing him on a machine that I am not sure that I can identify but which looks like a Brough Superior, at its time the fastest motrocycle available. Can anyone out there help to confirm (or otherwise) the make and model ? Is that a JAP engine ?

Note also the dress code for bike racing in those days: club sweater and tie (!), soft leather helmet, breeches and legging boots. And this man did the ton around Brooklands dressed like this and went on to live to 100!


  1. The secret to your longevity, you Brits, seems to lie entirely in the booze. Look at your late Queen Mum. Here, I suggest it might be ... Gordon’s gin.

  2. A second explanation to your longevity may be the limited access to medical care imposed upon your population by the NHS, as compared to the exagerated offer in most continental countries (outside Scandinavia, that is).
    I remember a sweet lady that was to become 100 year old just after she was admitted to a unit where I used to work. She passed pretty soon thereafter, for obscure reasons. Two weeks later, I was asked to present the case at an academic staff meeting.
    Unaware of the decency one may expect from a young post-graduate fellow (Léon was already pretty much the same as now), I started my speech by: “Patient would reach the respectable age of 100 years soon, but Medecine prevented this from happening”. It was not to everyone’s liking, but I think I made a strong point.
    This is a true story.

  3. Luc, I have no information on the liquid diet of this man, but I would expect your assumption to be correct. We come from a long line of brewers, so I doubt whether Gordon's after-race celebrations were examples of total sobriety. I have seen the former Queen Mum in action with a glass and she was no slouch!

  4. Talking beer brewers, David, I paid a visit to a wonderful enthousiast in Beersel (Brussels outskirts) last week. Armand Debelder brews with craftmanship different lambiek’s and blends them into the most exquisite Gueuze and Kriek, as well as making high (beer) and low fermentation (lager) beverages. Or should I say BREWED? Two years ago, he entered his cellar in the morning only to witness a temperature rise to 50 ° Celsius (fault in the airco), ruining 3 years of production. A defect occuring in the process of making his beer is NOT covered by his insurance contract ... hence a catastrophy. All went to the distillery (the only “kriek and gueuze brandy” I know off) but bankrupt followed. Before that, the man had reached world fame, busloads of tourists poured in, journalists and stars altogether paid him visits, Jackson came to see him ... to no avail, he had to get rid of all his beer brewing equipment to survive. The bankers would not help him rise again. Now, a very nice slogan hangs on the wall: “Hier koopt men bier bij een biersteker, geen bier van een bankier” (Here you can buy beer from a brewer, no beer of a banker).
    Two peole rescued him: his most important rivals !!! Brewer Lindemans and brewer De Neve accepted to harbour a basic beer brewing unit in his stead, leaving him the task to blend the stuff and finish the aging at his place. He’s once again able to sell his young production, but no gueuze or kriek yet, as they need three years to mature. As I occasionally buy my beer from him on my regular journeys to my homeland, I decided to sympathize and acquire ... a double load.
    Talking Lindemans, it is also worth mentioning this smaller scale brewery is managed by a chemist, whose wife used to be a colleague of mine during my consultancy years for pharmaceutical companies, a chemist herself by the name of Linda if I’m not mistaken. I wore a discrete piercing in my left ear (unusual jewel in those circles) but she showed a very sexy one in her belly button during the summer months.
    There is more to the story. This very pretty and highly spirited lady had been selected in the Belgian team (OK, no SSSR) for the Olympic Games (Gymnastics) in Seoul, if I remember well ... only to disrupt the ligaments of her knee a matter of weeks before departure. Maybe this misfortune helped the couple develop the sense of solidarity which they so elegantly exhibited. This true story is moving, I find, and you will forgive me for the length I took to describe it.

  5. Sounds to me like the next time you go there you will have to bring an extra load of his beer back: for me!
    Good story, and I like the slogan.

  6. The chap standing behind Gordon is demon bike rider and engineering ace Harry Weslake. His name will be well known to any automotive engineer as he helped design many famous Jaguar engines and also the cylinder head for Austin-derived engines such as those in Morris Minors. (My Jensen 541 has "Weslake patent" stamped on the 4-litre engine.) He was also involved with famous motor racing teams (GT40, Gurney).

  7. That is interesting. Weslake is indeed a name that has left it's mark on motorsports and motoring engineering in general. But I has no idea that he had turned his hand to bikes at one period.