22nd February 2023

Obituary: Norman Frederick Watson

Norman Watson (1928 – 2022) was a true gentleman who was responsible for a number of Trading Standards ‘firsts’

By Robert Grice

Norman Frederick Watson had a brilliant mind and was a gentleman in every sense of the word. His manner and demeanour epitomised professionalism and he set high standards for others to follow. He was always known to colleagues as ‘Mr Watson’ .

Norman Watson qualified as an inspector in Somerset circa 1950 whilst working under Mr Marston as Chief Officer. After qualification he later moved to Bradford, where he obtained his first job as an inspector. A further move took him to Leeds as an Inspector. Whilst working in Leeds he became seriously ill with polio. The illness was severe enough that he was placed on an iron lung to assist his breathing.

He returned to Leeds following his recovery, working under Samuel Marshall, who was the Chief Officer of Leeds at the time. He later became Deputy Chief Inspector (under Eric Pritchard), a position that he held until 1974.

Norman Frederick Watson (1928 – August 2022)

Norman was never known to fall out with anyone and was always there to help and encourage staff, and to guide them with their activities. He always displayed a forensic mind on legal matters and lectured in law to many students studying for the examination at Kitson College in Leeds.

He was always active in prosecution work and it is believed that he took the first ever prosecution for deceptive packaging. With the introduction of the Trade Descriptions Act in 1968 he applied his mind and obtained some notable firsts. He brought about a prosecution relating to a car mileometer which had been turned back from 120,000 miles to 100,000 miles. The case was most unusual because it was a private individual that was prosecuted. The individual, by his act or default, had caused the car dealer to apply a false trade description.

In another notable case, a travel agent falsely made the claim that there was a lift in an hotel in Austria. In order to prove that the offence was committed with the knowledge of the tour operator, Norman managed to have an enforcement officer who was on his personal holiday visit the hotel and confirm that there was no lift, despite an advertisement claiming otherwise.

In the Local Government Reorganisation of 1974 Leeds City was amalgamated into the West Yorkshire Metropolitan County Council. Here he was appointed as an Assistant Director (Trade Descriptions) operating under John Holme, who was appointed as the Director of Consumer Protection Services for the West Yorkshire Metropolitan County Council.

He retired from West Yorkshire in 1986 when another Local Government Reorganisation took place and the Metropolitan Counties were abolished.

Norman was a practical person and enjoyed carrying out his own car repairs. It is said that his love of speed and driving fast cars resulted in the Chief Inspector of Leeds City prohibiting all staff from being a passenger in Mr Watson’s car. Regarding his driving prowess, it was once said that whilst stuck in traffic on the Headrow in Leeds he drove on to the pavement in order to make progress. Presumably this action was carried out by this normally mild-mannered gentleman in pursuit of some transgressor!

Norman was a very private person, who loved his job and his family. He was married to Miriam with whom he had three children.

Written by Robert Grice with contributions from staff who worked in Leeds City with Norman Watson: Les McHugh, John Parton, Howard Martin, Paul Cooper and Martin Wood.


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