Bennie | George | 1892-1957 | engineer and inventor

Biographical Information

Occupation, Sphere of Activity

George Bennie was born in 1892 at Auldhouse, Glasgow, the son of an engineer, but spent much of his younger life at Rothesay. Though he had a Glasgow address in the 1930s, he maintained his home at Normanhurst, Bute.

He patented a number of inventions, one of the first being a stable ashtray which could be used at sea. Soon he turned his inventive talents towards the sphere of public transportation and developed an idea for a monorail type system - the 'Railplane'. This was designed to achieve far greater speeds than existing railway stock, without the inherent risks which ocurred when using the existing type of track and locomotive.

The design for the Railplane vehicle and carriages drew heavily on the design technology of the aircraft industry and they were built by Beardmore Engineering Co., Inchinnan, who had been involved in building airships, amongst many other products. The track was supported by a structure of girders which could straddle an existing railway track, allowing goods trains to pass below. In an LNER siding at Burnbrae, near Milngavie on the periphery of Glasgow a test line was constructed.

The official launch of Railplane in 1930 was greeted with much enthusiasm and acclaim, despite the length of the track being insufficient for the vehicle to reach the optimum 150 miles per hour (only 50 miles per hour was achieved). Unfortunately this was not translated into the necessary financial backing that Bennie needed to further the project. The proposed line from Edinburgh to Glasgow was not built, nor was the one between Southport and Blackpool. By 1937, Bennie was bankrupt. He had financed most of the work himself. The test line remained a feature on the Glasgow landscape until a year before Bennie's death, when it was demolished for scrap.

Relationships

none

Other Significant Information

none

Honours, Qualifications and Appointments

none known

Notes

List of sources for the biographical information:

Gillon, JK, The Bennie Railplane System, (http://gillonj.tripod.com/bennierailplane/)

East Dunbartonshire Council, George Bennie's Railplane, (http://www.e-dunbarton.org.uk/tourism/history/bennies_railplane.htm , East Dunbartonshire Council, 2002)