Sunday, 18 November 2012

Who is John 'Jumbo' Goddard?

When contemplating the name Jumbo what comes to mind? A Jumbo Jet maybe, Jumbo the massive elephant, Jumbo sausages? Either which way you look at it the word subtle does not spring to mind. We can construed this to be a something of an appropriate nick name then awarded to a certain Mr Goddard at an early age for his uncanny resemblance to a pantomime elephant from behind. This comment made in the late 1920's by fellow Brooklands racing driver, wealthy railway entrepreneur and from then on in, life long friend Captain J.E.P. Howey not only gave rise to nick name Jumbo John but allowed him to dabble in train driving amongst other things to fuel an insatiable passion for all things grand and mechanical. 

An elephant driving a Land Rover. (near enough)

Son of a successful English barrister Jumbo shunned the legal career in favour of a Marine Apprenticeship at Thornycrofts, Southampton. A move which would see him working aboard the 334 foot Herzogin Cecilie as part of the grain trade in the 30's.

1902 Herzogin Cecilie

All this floating around not only allowed Goddard's mind to wonder a little but gave him the money required to fulfil his minds wonderings. Namely his next move, which would be to buy a Ford V8 pickup and go prospecting for minerals in Australia and New Guinea. But as the 30's past the arrival of World War Two saw the ever English Goddard return to England to work with the Royal Navy on engine and propellor development for multi prop V12 powered Motor Torpedo Boats.

Vospa 70 ft Motor Torpedo Boat

The success of the war mixed with some more successful prospecting for minerals (basically mining) in Oz proved evident in Jumbo's ever increasing car collection in both the UK and Australia. I would call these classic and vintage cars but given this was the 40's and 50's these were, at the time known as just cars. But that's not strictly true given this was a man who bought the famous Le-mans winning Jaguar OKV1 screwed a windscreen to it, chopped the fuel tank in half to make space for his sandwiches and proceeded to use it as a run around for his Newport Beach pad.

'Jumbo' Goddard and OKV1 at his Newport Beach residence

The 50's saw Goddard spending his years in Sierra Leone and Ghana as part of the Consolidated African Selection Trust. This is where he is famed for spending evenings playing poker with uncut diamonds where the normal man would use match sticks. But despite this obvious wealth, all these land based eccentric activities did not a happy Jumbo make, and in 1957 the now 50 year old Goddard signed on as an Ordinary Seaman for the voyage of the Mayflower II on a 56 day voyage from Plymouth Devon to Plymouth Massachusetts.

Mayflower II proudly displaying both front and rear flags were made in England.

One of his most famous achievements comes in the 60's as something of a culmination of his past so far, when he fitted an 8 litre Bentley engine he'd found in an ambulance during the war to another Bentley he'd bought in 1928 and with his personal touch of twin turbo chargers succeeded in creating what was for some time, the fastest Bentley in the world.

550 bhp Record Breaking Bentley driven with something of a poker face.

What does this have to do with boats I hear you ask, again. Well bear with me, you've read this much so you may as well keep reading. In what can only be described as a coincidence, having married in 1973 and with the all too familiar phrase "if you drive that thing again I'm going to divorce you" ringing in his ear Goddard chose to hang up the racing helmet in favour of the retired life in his New South Wales resisdence overlooking Pittwater. This is where he had raced is yacht over the years with the Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club, and if this biography has taught us anything it's with sailing, comes ideas. This time the slightly more serene idea of creating his own steam launch to pottery around Sydney in. And so to answer the question, who is John 'Jumbo' Goddard? On this occasion, he is the designer and creator of the much aforementioned, Gollywog.

Much of the information for this piece was acquired from the very useful and highly recomended New Zealand Rolls-Royce & Bentley Club article to be found here. 
And all copyright infringements come with an apology and a smile.

No comments:

Post a Comment