We have received the sad news that UK Crane hire veteran, owner and senior manager Ronnie Stuart passed away on Saturday 16th November, having suffered deteriorating health over recent years, he was 85.
Ronnie Stuart was one of the founding fathers of the UK crane hire industry that began to emerge after end of the war in 1945. He went on to play a critical role in the development of the industry.
He began his career as a graduate engineer with Lincoln based crane manufacturer Ruston. In 1961 he established R G Stuart (plant) in partnership with his brother Kenneth. Based in Glasgow, the company quickly became the preeminent mobile crane rental company in Scotland. based in Glasgow.
In 1968 he merged his company with Hewden Plant Hire which Matthew Goodwin (later sir Matthew) and Frank Jamieson had also established in 1961. Their focus however was on earthmoving equipment rental. The merged company became Hewden Stuart and was floated on the stock market, leading to a series of acquisitions in both general equipment rental and specialist businesses such as aerial lift rental company Mobilift and Seymour plant. In those days the company was widely regarded as one of the best managed and most financially stable rental group the UK, often being the most profitable. Stuart finally retired from Hewden Stuart in 1998 having served for a while as a non-executive director after having stepped down as deputy chairman.
Hewden Stuart was acquired by Canadian Caterpillar dealer Finning in 2001, and gradually went through years of financial and strategic mismanagement, before being disposed of in 2010, and after a roller coaster few years it was finally declared bankrupt in 2016. Stuart watched the final decline of Hewden Stuart from afar, with great sadness. During his retirement he concentrated on his hobbies however which included music -he was a very accomplished pianist - and clockmaking.
Stuart paid meticulous attention to detail in all aspects of his life, as an academic an engineer, businessman, president/chairman of the UK’s Construction Plant hire Association, as well as his passions as private pilot and yachtsman.
He was a devoted family man and is survived by his wife Maureen and family.
The funeral will be held on Thursday 28 November at 14:45 at the South Lanarkshire crematorium, 22 Sydes Brae, Blantyre, Glasgow G72 0TL, followed by a reception at the Pollok Golf Club, 90 Barrhead Rd, Glasgow G43 1BG.