Frederick Henry Cooke FIMMM (Obit)

Fellows' Lounge
27 Jan 2011
Fred Cooke

Frederick Henry Cooke FIMMM was born on 11 September 1937 and died on 30 November 2010, aged 73. He worked on the technology of plastics for over 50 years and was of the generation that pioneered and shaped the industry we know today. His ingenuity, good humour and can-do attitude was a perfect fit for the early days of innovation and the boom years of rapid development when plastics far outperformed the economy as a whole.

Fred was widely known for his work on processing machinery, particularly in injection moulding and extrusion, and his long career was notable for an ability to keep pace with, and adapt to, profound changes in technology.

After an apprenticeship with injection machine builder Peco in his native Battersea and National Service with the Royal Engineers, Fred became a familiar moulding industry figure as an Ankerwerk Sales and Project Engineer with Hamilton Machinery Sales. The marque arguably set the quality standard of its time and was later to be acquired by Demag.

His drive and eye for a deal made it inevitable that Fred would strike out on his own, which he did with the formation of Optimum Machinery Sales, handling Josef Krauss machinery. Optimum evolved into a plastics industry service group, covering design, marketing, consultancy and recruitment. Fred’s gift for lateral thinking came to the fore, particularly in the prototype of a sea-going injection moulding system for cable-laying ships.

Fred conceived and curated the Hi-Tech and learning centres that brought a new dimension to Interplas exhibitions of the late 1980s and early 1990s. He pursued his interest in teaching and training as a technical journalist, and by lecturing at East Surrey Technical College and what is now London Metropolitan University. He was qualified in management studies, fluent in German and held a Diplom-Ingenieur (the German equivalent of a Master’s degree in Engineering). In his leisure time Fred was a keen skier, swimmer and scuba diver, and he had a judo black belt.

Fred neither sought nor expected privilege and made his own way by keen intelligence and hard work from a working-class childhood in London, through the Second World War and the loss of his father at the age of 14. He went down the then classic route of apprenticeship, evening classes and self-education. He hoped to be remembered as ‘not such a bad bloke after all’, a modest wish that acknowledged faults as well as virtues. It will surely be granted by his many friends and acquaintances. He is survived by Jenny and their sons Stephen and Andrew.