Tributes to foreman at factory which was at heart of Newport's industrial life

A long-serving employee of a factory once central to Newport's industrial life has passed away, aged 80.

Geoff at Audco
Geoff at Audco

Geoff Watson was well known in the town, having worked for Audco for 45 years until the factory – which made industrial valves – finally shut its gates in 1999.

"Geoff was the genial maintenance foreman at the factory with whom most of the workforce will have been familiar," said daughter Tania.

"He started there at the age of 15 as an apprentice and worked his way up to maintenance foreman.

"He was actually the last man out when Audco closed.

"He had to drain all the boilers down and lock the gates behind him as he left."

She added: "He was a very quiet and reserved man but so many people knew him.

"Whenever we walked down Newport High Street there were rarely more than two people who walked past us who didn't say 'good morning' to him."

Geoff, who had three daughters – Tania, Maxine and Andie – was a teenage motorcycle fanatic from Albrighton.

He got the chance to go for an interview at the Audley Engineering Company in 1957 at the age of 16 on the recommendation of a neighbour.

Audco Ltd, Newport. Undated but possibly c.1970.

"It wasn’t much of an interview, he recalled to me," said Tania. "He said 'if you could breathe you were in!'

"Such were the opportunities in the immediate post-war world, where jobs were plentiful almost everywhere, people could pick and choose.

"But my dad chose to stay with Audco rising to foreman and declining the opportunity to move our family to the USA or to New Zealand."

After the Factory closed, Geoff moved to Makita in Hortonwood, Telford, but suffered with poor health and took early retirement in 2004 and move to the West Country.

He lost his sight in 2021 and his final years were spent in a Gloucestershire care home.

After a short illness, he died in Southmead Hospital Bristol on September 18.

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