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Bennie Railplane

bennie railplane book

Bennie Railplane bookEast Dunbartonshire Council has published a book on the George Bennie Railplane that for many years was a familiar sight in Milngavie, perched above the roadside at Burnbrae. This book, by William B. Black, is available from East Dunbartonshire Information & Archives, The William Patrick Library, 2-4 West High Street, Kirkintilloch, G66 1AD, price £3.30 plus £2.00 postage and packing. Make cheques payable to East Dunbartonshire Leisure & Culture Trust. Please print out the order form, complete and post with remittance to: It can also be purchased at Milngavie Library or Brookwood Library, Bearsden.

The Bennie Railplane was a self-propelled passenger railcar mounted in a 130 metre steel framework. Because it was such an unusual and spectacular sight, and extremely visible right beside the main road, it remained in the memories of local people long after it was demolished in 1956, and indeed right down to the present. At the time of its demolition it had been in position for 26 years, having been erected in 1930. During its first year it was the subject of many articles in newspapers and periodicals and was visited by people from all over the world.

George Bennie, its designer, considered that the railplane system could provide a solution to worldwide transport problems. He believed it to be cheaper to construct than conventional railways, as it would do away with the need for bridges, viaducts, embankments, cuttings and tunnels. He also considered it much safer than air transport.

Many plans were drawn up for railplane systems, based on the Milngavie prototype, including one between London and Essex, and another as a joint railplane/seaplane route between the south-east of England and France. However, World War II intervened and nothing became of any of them. Another problem was the lack of any means to provide junctions or points for the system.

George Bennie outlived his railcar by about a year and a half. He died in November 1957, aged 65. He had squandered a personal fortune on a spectacular but unfortunate venture. Nothing remains of the system at Burnbrae today, although the site is marked by a plaque erected by Bearsden & Milngavie District Council in 1990.