Obituary: Jimmy Beaton, Glasgow Tigers speedway promotor/director, businessman

Speedway promoter Jimmy Beaton has died at the age of 90
Speedway promoter Jimmy Beaton has died at the age of 90
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Jimmy Beaton, speedway promoter. Born: 8 September, 1927 in Blantyre. Died: 9 January, 2018 in Lanark, aged 90.

Jimmy Beaton who has died aged 90 was a well known popular figure in the Blantyre community and beyond who made his mark in different walks of life.

A hero on the occasion he rescued a family from a house fire in Hamilton, founder and proprietor of Beaton’s Coaches which operated throughout the west of Scotland for more than 40 years and promoter/director of Glasgow Tigers speedway team over nearly twenty years at six different venues.

After his formal involvement with the Tigers ended in 1989 he continued to help out in various ways and was appointed Honorary President of the club in recognition of his services. He also became the first non-rider to be inducted into their Hall of Fame and it has been widely recognised that but for his involvement it is highly unlikelythere would be a club in existence today.

Born to George and Sarah in Auchinraith Terrace, Blantyre he was the middle brother of three between George and Billy. Educated first at Auchinraith primary school he then attended the town’s Calder Street High School.

When he left school he undertook an apprenticeship as a heating engineer with the local council and began an interest in motor cycles, becoming a member of the local club. He showed an aptitude for mechanics and carried out repairs on bikes which he also sand raced successfully on beaches throughout the country and in other events.

Having met Hamilton girl Betty Thomson at a party they started going out together and married in 1950. They went on to enjoy over 66 years of happy marriage during which they had four children, George, Bobby, Jim and Jacqueline.

While still working as an engineer he and his wife bought a motor cycle shop in Glasgow Road, Burnbank which they ran together. In the early 1960s he bought an accident-damaged coach which he repaired himself to make it roadworthy and then began operating it, the start of Beaton’s Coaches, later based in John Street, Blantyre. The company expanded over the years to the point where it ran 17 coaches, carrying out a range of work It developed into a family enterprise as sons Jim and Bobby were also directors while daughter Jacqueline worked in it for 22 years.

As the business built up, Mr Beaton and his wife were involved ‘hands on’, performing a variety of tasks despite his still working as an engineer. This entailed occasional driving duties for him and it was while doing so he was later deservedly hailed as a hero for his rescue of a family from a blazing house. On 11 March 1983 as he drove along Quarry Street in Hamilton returning to his depot, he saw a house in flames with childrens’ faces pressed against the first floor windows screaming for help.

Showing considerable resourcefulness and courage, he stopped parallel to the house, climbed on to the roof of his vehicle and extricated the family of nine to the safety of his roof with the help of a passerby.

A police spokesman commented: “Mr Beaton’s bravery undoubtedly saved their lives.” Strathclyde Fire Brigade awarded him a commendation for his actions, the first time this had been given to someone not a Brigade member.

All three sons took up speedway racing for Glasgow Tigers which in part led to their father becoming promoter/director of the club in 1971 when based at Hampden Park. These were lean times for the sport and the contribution of Mr Beaton in countless ways such as financial input and fundraising was instrumental to keeping the Tigers afloat.

The expression“multi tasking” merely scrapes the surface of the extent of his efforts on the club’s behalf over almost 20 years formal involvement. During that period, reflective of difficult times for the sport, the club was based at Hampden, Coatbridge, Blantyre – first, the greyhound track, then Craighead Park, Workington and Shawfield.

As promoter he was involved in the 101 tasks in ensuring successful meetings which included erecting safety fences, as ‘track curator’ responsible for the track’s condition, arranging ticketing and programmes, engaging riders and officials, liaising with the media and opposition, and sometimes driving fans, riders and bikes in a company coach to fixtures, particularly when the club was briefly based in Workington.

Wife Betty was invaluable behind the scenes dealing with bookkeeping and administrative tasks. At times they even accommodated foreign riders in their house.

After his formal speedway connection finished in 1989, Mr Beaton concentrated on his coach business till he retired at 77 in 2005. Life was so busy there was little time for holidays although he and his wife enjoyed attending the annual speedway conferences in Benidorm.

A dementia diagnosis about five years ago caused difficulty in his latter years and after being cared for by his daughter he moved into a care home in Lanark.

During a long life he achieved much and enjoyed a rewarding family life, a successful business career and a hugely appreciated contribution to Glasgow Tigers speedway. His wife died in 2016, eldest son George having died in 1972 as a result of an accident. He is survived by his other sons and daughter and ten grandchildren and great grandchildren.

JACK DAVIDSON