Scottish Flashback: George Bennie Railplane

The Bennie Railplane, on the Milngavie test track. Picture: Contributed
The Bennie Railplane, on the Milngavie test track. Picture: Contributed
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THE Bennie Railplane looks oddly futuristic, despite being over 80 years old.

Devised by Scots inventor George Bennie, the Railplane comprised an elevated track and a propeller-driven carriage suspended from a monorail.

The engine was powered by electricity, with construction predicted to be cheaper than conventional railways.

Bennie invited a number of guests to try out his test track and carriage that he had built over a stretch of LNER railway at Milngavie on the outskirts of Glasgow.

On July 8, 1930, media and special guests were taken for rides.

One unnamed passenger described the Railplane as ‘operating with perfect smoothness’ and ‘a sheer delight’.

A poster was created in 1929 to help publicise the Railplane, with the slogan ‘Swift. Safe. Sure’.

Although Bennie claimed that his invention could reach speeds of 120mph - just 6mph slower than the record-breaking Mallard steam engine - the Railplane could only muster speeds of 50mph due to the short length of track - 426ft.

The Railplane never became a reality however as by 1937, Bennie had spent all his money travelling the world in a bid to gain backing for his invention, bankrupting himself in the process.

Train companies deemed the invention too revolutionary, although his prototype structure and carriage remained in place until as late as 1956 when it was scrapped.

The shed that the carriage was built in is still standing though - it can be found on Milngavie’s Main Street, with a blue plaque commemorating the invention.