From Workshop to Windsor
by Joanna White
AS THE COUNTRY MARKS THE QUEEN’S PLATINUM JUBILEE MALCOLM COBB REFLECTS ON 70 YEARS OF HIS WORKING LIFE AND TALKS ABOUT EMBRACING A NEW DIRECTION...
I bought a lathe,” Malcolm explains. A lathe is a tool used in woodworking, it’s not the kind of thing you pick up on your weekly shop. “I can remember my father helping my wife wash up and saying ‘What’s the old fool gone and done now? Bought a lathe? He’ll never use it!’”
Despite not knowing a thing about woodturning, Malcolm soon got the hang of it, and ended up with a very important commission for a very important client.
“I was tasked with doing some prestigious pieces for Windsor Castle after the fire,” Malcolm explains, referring to the 1992 disaster when a spotlight ignited a curtain and the blaze ripped through 115 rooms, completely destroying them.
You’d think he’d know everything there is to know about woodturning by now, but Malcolm admits that he still has more to learn…
Malcolm was tasked to restoring the pelmets in the grand reception room. “I was required to make the intricate wooden cores for the dangly bits on the rich pelmets. They also wanted some turned posts. The bottom had to be a plain cylinder with stainless steel around them. I expected something more ornate but the man tapped his nose and replied, ‘corgis’.”
Restoring Windsor Castle to its glory, keeping in mind its four-legged residents, is something Malcolm is still proud of. To thank him for his work, he received an invitation from her Majesty herself.
“There was a party for all the people who had done work in Windsor. It was quite amazing. The Queen was just moving through these people, no security at all. She knew some of the apprentices who had been working on-site and they were joking with Her Majesty.”
After the success of his first few commissions Malcolm became enthralled with woodturning, and is still practicing it after 40 years.
“I like the sort of job where I say confidently to the customer, ‘Oh yes, we can do that.’ And then, when they are gone, I think how the heck am I going to do that?”
As the Platinum Jubilee draws near, Malcolm is sure to be reflecting on and celebrating his working life, from the workshop at his home, to the grand reception rooms of Windsor.
NorthernLife May/June 2022