Robert Owen ‘John’ Wynn 1932 - 2020
Heavy transport pioneer John Wynn of Robert Wynn & Sons Transport passed away on Friday, he was 87.
John Wynn was born into a family business, his father 'O.G'. was one of five brothers who owned and operated the well established transport business Robert Wynn & Sons, of Shaftesbury Street, Newport, South Wales. He attended Newport High School and while no academic, he did excel when it came to engineering drawings, a skill he acquired 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.
At the age of 16, he persuaded the depot foremen, to let man the 10 wheel rigid trucks that operated over night to London. He would often ask the driver to move over and let him drive which they did on many occasions, driving was his favourite past time.
After officially joining the family business, John was apprenticed to his uncle Henry Percy Wynn (H.P). At that time the company was in the process of developing hydraulic suspension trailers in order to produce a means of transporting the increasingly heavy vessels required for refineries and power plants. The outcome was the novel Air Cushion Equipment and a series of specialist heavy load vessels.
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During his time as a director of Wynns in the 1970’s the company took on some of the most challenging haulage jobs of the time, winning numerous mentions in the Guinness Book Of Records for the largest loads moved on UK roads. As work in the UK dropped off when the recession hit, he started looking for work further afield. Winning work in Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia, Nigeria and the Sudan.
As he moved up through the company, he developed several skills and principles, which he would repeat to his own family. Priority number one was to never ask an employee to do a job that he was not himself willing or capable of doing. This approach earned the respect of his employees who demonstrated their admiration and appreciation by attending quarterly meetings organised and hosted by John for more than three decades after the business closed in Newport in 1982.
After the Newport facility was closed he quit the business and went to work in the Sudan, where he had developed a number of long term contracts. This was followed by several months on the Falkland Islands where he supervised the offloading of the necessary airport building equipment and its safe onward transportation to site. On his return, following a short spell in Hong Kong, he bag working at Wynns again, often behind the wheel of HGV’s, running steel from the steel works at Port Talbot and Llanwern to the English midlands. He only stopped after suffering a heart attack, requiring a multiple heart bypass.
In his retirement he wrote three books on the history of the family business and gave several talks on the history of the Wynns business and UK heavy haulage industry. For more history and old photos See: Robert Wynn &Sons history
He 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 looked after him following his diagnosis of prostate cancer.
Robert Wynn & Sons is still in business today, managed by a fifth generation of the family in the form of his youngest son Peter. He is survived by wife Sandra, sons Robert and Peter and step daughters Caroline and Kate.