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 driving was his favourite past time.
After officially joining the family business, John was apprenticed to his Uncle Henry Percy Wynn (H.P) who John admired and who acted as his assistant and chauffeur, driving them 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 Industry witnessing the vast growth of refineries and power plants and 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 has chronicled the history of the family business in three books 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.
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.