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Date 23 November 2011

Event ID 640855

Category Descriptive Accounts

Type Note


The Bennie Railplane or the ‘George Bennie Airspeed Railway’ (NS55436 73425 – 55554 73446) was built in 1929-30 (opened July 1930) adjacent to Main Street, Milngavie near Glasgow as a proof on concept testing system. The idea was that the railplane would carry passengers above the rail lines moving them more quickly than the slower freight carrying trains below. Designed by George Bennie (1891-1957), the railplane consisted of an elevated track and propeller driven ‘car’. The test track was some 120 metres in length and, together with the car and infrastructure, it was scrapped in the 1950s. Now only the wooden former LNER former good shed (used in running the tests for the railplane, [retrieved 24 November 2011]) covering an area of 273.6 square metres, remains. The western end of the Burnbrae freight spur and the former goods station is now used as a timber yard.

The test track was constructed over a section of the Burnbrae branch line (freight) of the former LNER Milngavie branch line. The superstructure of the main suspension girder and the carrying rail was fabricated by the Teeside Bridge and Iron Company. These were in the form of two tiers of lattice girders supported by electricity pylon-like structures. The upper of these long lattice girder structures had a guide rail from which was suspended (by means of two flanged wheels), a propeller-driven car. The lower tier of girders also had a guide rail with wheels that stopped the car from oscillating. There was a 4.88m (16ft) clearance (as with railway bridges) to the railway track section below and the superstructure was some 24.4m (80ft) in span at its base. There was an elevated steel and wooden platform (NS55442 73427) from which passengers boarded and left the car.

The bogies, from which the car suspended, were constructed by Watson Mirlees of Glasgow and the car ( (52ft) in length and 2.44m (8ft) in diameter and 6 tons in weight) was built by William Beardsmore, Dalmuir works from the aluminium alloy, duralumin. This alloy (developed in Germany in 1903) was used in dirigible aircraft and in aeroplanes and its successors are still in use today.

‘The George Bennie Railplane’ by Dewi Williams, [retrieved 24 November 2011]; ‘The George Bennie Railplane System of Transport’, Scottish Screen Archive Ref 1341 [retrieved 24 November 2011]

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