John Wynn Obituary
28th October 1932 – 10th April 2020
Robert Owen John Wynn, known as John, was born the third child to Owen George and Marjorie on 28th October 1932. He had two elder sisters, Josephine and Mary and being a boy born into a family business, was soon the apple of his parents eyes.
John’s father O.G. (they were mostly known by their initials) was one of five brothers who owned and operated the family’s long-established transport business Robert Wynn & Sons of Shaftesbury Street, Newport, South Wales.
John was educated at Newport High School and although by no means an academic, excelled in engineering drawings, a skill he acquired on placement while apprenticed at Fairfield Engineering in Chepstow. It was a family tradition to send their sons to work in associated businesses in order to acquire the skills they would need, and to be away from the Family while they learnt those skills.
John was evacuated in WW2 during the bombing of Newport and was sent to Newquay west Wales for a short period. That new family knowledge of west Wales was not lost on his Father O.G. who after the war took the family on many summer holidays in his recently purchased caravans, often taking many of the extended family with them.
Being born into the Robert Wynn & Sons transport business, it was said that John learned to drive before he could walk. At the age of 16, without his father’s knowledge and having persuaded the depot foremen, he was driving 10 wheel rigid trucks on the London night trunk. A pattern was soon to emerge.
Whenever he was on a transport job, John would often ask the driver to move over and let him drive which they did on many occasions. In fact, you could say his favorite pastime was driving.
After officially joining the family business, John was apprenticed to his Uncle Henry Percy Wynn (H.P) who John admired. Acting as both assistant and chauffeur, John drove tens of thousands of miles, mostly on roads before motorways.
It was at this time that the company were developing hydraulic suspension trailers and then, in conjunction with his many contacts in the Electricity supply and Petrochemical industries, witnessing the vast growth of refineries and power plants in the post war growth years. This period also saw the development of the novel Air Cushion Equipment and the introduction of the specialist heavy load vessels to support that growth. Loads were getting bigger as industry required larger kit and such a challenge fell on willing hands within Robert Wynn & Sons and their youngest Director.
His time at Wynns in the 1970’s saw him take on some of the most challenging transportation jobs of the era, proudly challenging regularly for the Guinness Book Of Records for the largest loads moved on the UK roads. As work in Britain dropped off in the recession of later that decade, John cast further and further afield taking personal charge of contracts that he had negotiated in Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, Nigeria and finally The Sudan.
It was under the stewardship of H.P that John learned the skills and principles he would need to become a Director of the Wynn business and which he would tirelessly repeat to his own family. Priority 1 was to never ask an employee to do a job that he was not himself willing or capable of doing. This approach earned appreciation, occasionally grudgingly, from his work force of hardworking post-war men and this admiration and appreciation was shown when, after the business being closed in Newport for over 35 years, over 50 ex-employees would meet quarterly to see each other and chat of times past, always organised and hosted by John.
Never one to sit on his hands, when the Wynn business closed in Newport in 1982, John resigned and went to work firstly in the Sudan, where he had developed several long term contracts in the later part of the 1970’s. This was followed by several months in the south Atlantic on the Falkland Islands where he supervised the offloading of the necessary airport building equipment and its safe onward transportation to the sites. On his return and after a short spell in Hong Kong, enjoying and working again with old colleagues at Wynns, John spent his last working days behind the wheel of HGV’s, this time running steel to the Midlands from the South Wales steel works at Port Talbot and Llanwern. He was only stopped when hit with a heart attack and a need for a multiple heart bypass.
Thanks to his tireless work in retirement, John lovingly chronicled the history of the family business in three books, over 20 DVDV’s and given countless talks up and down the county on the history of the Wynns business together with many anecdotes of his 40 years in and at the forefront of the UK heavy haulage industry.
Following his retirement, John remained an active man. Joining Probus in 1996, he became President of the Newport Branch in 2003/4 and again in 2007/8. His energy in bringing many new Professional Business local gentlemen earned him Honorary Life Membership of the group.
John played snooker as a keen amateur all his life. From special short cue’s used in HP’s garage to the pleasant surrounds of Newport High School Old Boys Club (NHSOB) on Stow Hill where he mostly played Monday and Friday evenings with many friends, always ordering his Apple Mango’s non alcoholic drinks.
In 1995 John joined NHOB Bowls club and could be regularly seen at Bellevue Park. He became Club Captain for two years, 2001 & 2002. Witnessing the amalgamation of the club with Rogerstone Bowls Club, John became club President in 2010, serving until his retirement from office in 2015. John stopped playing both Snooker and Bowls in 2018, although his many friends would point out that he had stopped playing many years ago – when it was raining! He would not play games in the rain rather saying he had worked most his life in the rain, he had enough of that!
The record shows a consistent theme. John was a “people person”. He made friends and stayed friends – as long as you agreed with him! A very respected member of the groups and fraternities he attended and always a willing volunteer himself to represent the life of a friend or colleague at their passing.
John was married three times. His first wife Yvonne with whom he had two sons; his second Maureen who died in 1995 and his third Sandra, who has looked after him in the most trying of times following his diagnosis of Prostate cancer over 20 years ago.
The Robert Wynn & Sons business continues today under the stewardship of his youngest son Peter, fifth generation of the original founder.
John is survived by his wife Sandra, her two daughters Caroline and Kate, sons Robert and Peter and grandchildren Daisy and Harry, Melissa and Christopher.
N.B Due to the current government restrictions John’s funeral will be attended by only immediate family. It is the intention of the Wynn family to hold a memorial service once such restrictions are lifted. Further details of this service will be published nearer the time.