bennie railplane book
East 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
form, complete and post with remittance to: It can also be
purchased at Milngavie Library or Bearsden Library.
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