Haulier and businessman; Born September 16, 1922; Died February 28, 2008. Frank Doonin, passed away aged 85 in 2008 after a short illness. He was a remarkable character who founded one of Lanarkshire’s best-known haulage and plant hire firms, Doonin Plant Ltd. Born in Cleland in 1922 to parents Catherine and Frank Doonin, the family moved to Blantyre in 1925 after purchasing the local whippet and greyhound track. It instilled in him a lifelong passion for greyhound racing. He began his working life as a miner but was not destined for a life at the coalface. With early entrepreneurial flair, he identified a lack of local industrial transport facilities and, by purchasing a horse and cart, the foundations of a transport empire were born.
Doonin Plant was founded in 1961 in Blantyre before relocating to Cambuslang. The horse and cart were replaced with tipper lorries which, in later years, evolved into a fleet bearing the red and black Doonin insignia, a familiar site on roads across the country.
As a former miner, he understood the back-breaking work and conditions endured by miners and the daily risk that they were subjected to. Even after leaving the pit, he continued to have a keen interest in the industry and is fondly remembered by many in the local community and beyond for his support during the miners’ strike of 1984-1985. Outside the plant hire and haulage business, he continued to have a keen interest in greyhound racing. The track owned by his parents in Blantyre was compulsorily purchased to make way for the East Kilbride expressway in 1982.
After a brief stint as owner of Ayr Greyhound Stadium, he decided to bring back greyhound racing to the legendary Shawfield Stadium in Rutherglen, Glasgow, in 1986. Frank’s vision for the site was to create a first-class facility that would offer the best in track racing, showcasing the best breeds from the UK and Ireland. Under his stewardship, the Scottish Greyhound Derby was brought back to the stadium to great acclaim and it remains in Glasgow to this day. The stadium also became a speedway racing venue and was home to the Glasgow Tigers from 1988 until 1998.
After his departure from Shawfield, Frank continued to concentrate his energies on his haulage firm. A new era began at the firm which reflected the changing face of industry in Lanarkshire. Gone were the heavy industries of steel and the company began to take stock of the environmental impact of the business. Substantial investment in the firm created a new recycling plant and, with these green credentials, the company adapted to meet the changes required for the modern age. The company diversified into civil engineering and demolition works, as well as substantial investment in property throughout central Scotland. Frank remained active in the day-to-day running of the business and also continued to be heavily involved with the local community of Blantyre. He was survived by his wife of 59 years, Margaret, his sons, daughters, grandchildren and great grandchildren.