Roy Golding, Workshop Manager at John Cooper’s Surbiton garage and lifelong supporter of the Cooper name and legacy, passed away on 17 February. He was involved with the Cooper family and racing team from 1948 until the Surbiton premises closed in the mid 1960s.
MiniWorld’s Kay Drury interviewed Roy for our December 2015 issue where he recalled: “It was all excitement at Cooper’s. There was never a dull moment. When you talk about Cooper, people say Cooper Mini. No one remembers what we did with the back-to-back Formula One job. It’s all different now, not like dear old Cooper Cars. We had all the camaraderie there.”
Roy instigated and organised many memorable gatherings over the decades for former Cooper Car Co. and Cooper Garages employees, during which he enjoyed sharing both his memories and engineering expertise.
Former Cooper Garages employee, Chris Dawson, paid tribute to Roy: “He was a real old school gentleman who never gave up his love for Coopers. He kept all the Cooper family of workers together and also built many bridges in keeping the history of Surbiton to Ferring and East Preston together and often popped in for a coffee and a chat at East Preston and Ferring, He was a true gentleman, a great friend and will be greatly missed.”
After we published our interview in 2015, Roy posted a letter to MiniWorld HQ in which he wrote. “It is wonderful to see in your magazine the amazing amount of interest there is in Cooper and other Minis and the amount of people supplying parts to update them and keep them on the road.” Our thoughts are with Roy’s family and friends.
Roy outside the former Cooper garage at Surbiton in Surrey. Photo: Chris Nichols.
Roy Golding Obituary
14 August 1925 – 17 February 2018
Words: Roy’s daughter Anna Golding
Roy Golding, who died aged 92, was the F1 mechanic who helped mastermind the rear-engineered revolution at Cooper Car Company in the late 1950s, as well as many of the Tyrrell mechanics who kept the Scot’s cars in world-title winning condition in the early-1970s.
Bald from an early age, Golding joined the Cooper team in Hollyfield Road, Surbiton in 1948 and later became the Works Manager. The Coopers’ way of motor racing was stark and primitive. Charles Cooper’s Surbiton works were dark, dank and dingy, his staff underpaid and often grumbling. Roy was the stalwart for a workforce that frequently reckoned it was getting the rough end of the deal. Here, with his team, he crafted racing cars for some of the industry’s greats including Stirling Moss, Sir Jackie Stewart, Jack Brabham and Bernie Ecclestone.
In the early 1960s rival Lotus refined the rear-engined concept, while the Cooper team went into a decline and Roy recalled: “We used to say that if you want to race and live, you buy a Cooper. If you want to race and win, you buy a Lotus.”
After Charles Cooper died and the business was sold to the Chipstead Garages group, Roy and a group of mechanics went to Thomson and Taylors in Byfleet, Brooklands, Surrey. It is here that Ron Dennis, former chief executive of the McLaren formula one team, started as junior mechanic apprentice and Roy took him under his jurisdiction.
In the late 1970s, Roy set up his own engineering company at Platts Eyot in Hampton and continued to make parts for McLaren, Williams, Metro 6R4 rally cars, Tyrell, Newmonts Engineering and many local small motor racing teams. He also created the wheels for the children’s classic film, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
In 1990, Roy Golding attempted to retire to Denmead on the South coast to start a second family. His dual love of racing and engineering meant this attempt at retirement was doomed to fail. In fact, he established his own workshop at the end of his garden and for the next 24 years, continued to make parts for the motor racing industry including Alfa Romeos, vintage cars, motorbikes and the Dieselmax landspeed record car.
In 2014 at the age of 88, he officially did finally stop working, keeping his passion for motor racing alive by continuing to attend the Grand Prix Mechanics Trust and Cooper Car reunions.
He leaves his second wife Rebecca and four daughters, Pamela Jack (72 years old), Sue Maryan (62 years old), Anna Golding (30 years old) and Lea Golding (27 years old).
Roy Golding, motor racing mechanic, born August 14 1925; died February 17 2018.