LONGSTANDING holiday park owner and leading Freemason Jim Cobb has died at the age of 88.
Well known as the face of Cobb’s Holiday Park at Highcliffe for many years, Jim moved to Carlton House Care Home in 2016 and enjoyed daily walks into New Milton until recently.
Jim was born in 1931 in Glen Cottage on Gordon Road, Highcliffe, to parents Lily and Reginald. He had a sister called Eileen and attended school in Highcliffe, Ashley and New Milton.
After finishing his education at 15, Jim joined his father in the family coal merchant business, before undertaking national service in east Africa where he trained as a lorry driver and HGV mechanic in the army.
After demob he went to work as a lorry driver and mechanic at Frampton’s Transport based in Bransgore. Soon after his return to Highcliffe he met his future wife Emily, known as Em, at a dance at the British Legion Club.
Em was one of nine children and her family were evacuated from Southampton to Burton during the war.
The couple were married at Burton church in March 1954 and hosted a reception at Sopley Assembly Rooms before travelling to Devon for their honeymoon.
Before the Second World War, Jim’s father Reginald bought plots of land around Gordon Road, where he built chalets for holiday accommodation. He also began using a section of the site for camping – and so Cobb Holiday Park was founded.
Jim and Em made their home on the holiday park, but Em wasn’t involved in running it. Instead she worked as a telephonist at Signals Research and Development Establishment (SRDE) and later Plessey and British Aerospace in Christchurch.
The couple had no children but as Em was one of nine, there were lots of nieces of nephews who Jim enjoyed.
The holiday park developed under Reginald’s leadership over a number of years until his death in 1967, after which Jim took over responsibility for the business.
He was extremely proud of the hard work and effort of all the staff that led Cobbs Holiday Park to be awarded a four-star Rose Award and was supported in running the business by his brother-in-law Peter House.
Nephew Steve House said: “Jim was a real people person and loved running the holiday park – he was absolutely in his element.
“He loved having the children there and many often became regular visitors when they grew up, bringing their children, and then they brought their children so he would have seen three generations of the same family.
“He believed that if people came on holiday a bit uptight and they left relaxed, he felt they had done their job.”
Jim was always very kind and often offered people free holidays to people who needed them. He was a longstanding Freemason serving as grand rank officer in his Craft Lodge and the Chapter Lodge, and raising thousands for the Masons through raffles.
During his spare time Jim was a keen sailor, enjoying many holidays on the Norfolk Broads with his National Service friend Dick Barclay. He also loved socialising with friends and family.
After running the holiday park for many years, Jim made the difficult decision to close and sell the site for development in 2013, soon after Em died. He continued to live in a bungalow on the site until 2016 when he went into Carlton House Care Home for respite care – and liked it so much he stayed.
Jim died at Calton House on 9th October and will be missed by his many friends and family. His funeral will take place at Bournemouth Crematorium on Thursday 14th November at 11am.
Those wishing to donate in Jim’s memory can give to the RNLI c/o FW House and Sons, Lymington.