Malcolm Cook began serving his time as a painter and decorator in Campbeltown with Jack McKinven Painter & Decorators and then finished his apprenticeship with McShannon and Duncan Painters & Decorators. In 1972 he started working at Campbeltown Shipyard where he was employed as a painter. His brother, Douglas Cook, was an apprentice joiner at the yard.
Malcolm’s job was to chip, prime and paint. An outside contractor, the aforementioned Jack McKinven, would paint the outline of the names of the boats and Malcolm would sometimes do the infill for him. The colours of the boats were the choice of the skippers. Malcolm recalls that many of the boats were painted black but that the wheelhouses were invariably painted white. The favoured primer for painting at the yard was Metalife Marine Primer.
Malcolm worked alongside spray painter, Jimmy McLean, whom he remembers as a “real gentleman”. Malcolm says that Jimmy was always telling hilarious stories and when Jimmy would say “Have you heard this one?…” Malcolm would jokingly slip on his ear protecters! Andy Parker helped out with the painting and the painters’ charge-hand at that time was George Stewart.
When a boat was nearly finished Malcolm and another painter would work in the evenings to spray the hulls. Instead of using scaffolding they would use the crane and bucket and Malcolm would go up in the bucket whilst the other painter worked the machine, moved the hose and kept the paint topped up.
The boats that Malcolm remembers best are the Ajax INS 82 (Yard no. 12)and the Argosy INS79 (Yard no. 11). He has good memories of the launch days and having a beer afterward in the tea hut. After a few beers the singsongs would start and Malcolm recalls that Andy Parker’s party piece was “Bye Bye Blackbird”! Malcolm recalls that there was a great atmosphere at the yard and that there were many good workers.
The last boat Malcolm worked on was the Vón TN 381 (Yard No.36), which was commissioned by Peter Nolsoe of the Faroe Islands and built in 1977.
Whist at the Shipyard, Malcolm met John Carmichael, who went on to set up his own marine repairs business. Malcolm joined John and worked on various jobs, painting tankers, container ships and cargo vessels. His work took him to the US coast, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and the Philippines.