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Papers/Records of George Bennie Railplane

Collection Summary

Reference Code

GB 0248 DC 85

Date(s)

c1930

Extent and medium of the unit of description

0.2 metres

(1 box)

Existence and Location of Originals

This material includes copies of 36 photographs. The originals are held at the Museum of Transport, Glasgow, GB 1075.

Name of creator

Bennie | George | 1891-1957 | engineer and inventor

Biographical History

Biographical History

George Bennie (1891-1957) was born in Glasgow, Scotland, but spent much of his youth at Rothesay, Isle of Bute, Scotland. The son of an engineer, he 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 lacked any formal engineering qualifications. 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. In 1942 the Railplane site at Milngavie passed into the hands of a new company, Railplanes Ltd, a de facto subsidiary of Sheffield-based construction company, Henry Boot and Sons Ltd. The Railplane and its structure were demolished for scrap in 1956. Bennie died the following year.

Scope and Content

Scope and Content

The papers/records of George Bennie Railplane consist of:

  • design and research records
  • catalogues and notes on components
  • photographs

Index

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Components of this collection