George Bennie Railplane

George Bennie (1891-1957)

(GUAS Ref: DC 85)

George Bennie was born in Glasgow, the son of an engineer, who turned his own inventive skills towards the area of public transportation and by 1921 had applied for a patent for his 'Railplane', a high-level suspended monorail system, which was granted in 1923.

In 1930 a prototype was installed over an LNER siding to Burnbrae Dyeworks at Milngavie, near Glasgow. The design of the electrically-powered, propeller-driven Railplane was undertaken by consultant engineer Hugh Fraser as Bennie was not an engineer. It was built at the Dalmuir works of William Beardmore & Co Ltd of Inchinnan, Renfrewshire, manufacturers of the R34 airship, it drew heavily on aircraft technology.

Despite high levels of enthusiasm at the July 1930 launch, Bennie was never able to get sufficient financial backing to develop the idea further. Early proposals for lines between Blackpool and Southport and in the South of France came to nothing as did many other subsequent schemes. In May 1936 Bennie was ousted from the board of the Railplane company, Inter-Counties Ltd and played no further part in the Railplane at Milngavie.

He was declared bankrupt in 1937 but in 1946 and 1951 formed two new companies; the George Bennie Airspeed Railway Ltd and George Bennie Airspeed Railway (Iraq) Ltd. Proposals, including lines between city centres and airports, combined passenger and desert irrigation systems between the River Nile and the Dead Sea and Baghdad and Damascus, were unsuccessful. The Railplane at Milngavie and its structure were demolished for scrap in 1956. Bennie died the following year.

* Read more about the George Bennie Railplane, featured on the National Archives of Scotland website.

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