Film: 582

Railways | 1930 | Silent | B/W


Bennie Monorail 1930's

Coverage of the testing and opening of the George Bennie Railplane (GBR) in 1929/1930 on the steel structure erected alongside a section of the LNER between Milngavie and Hillfoot, near Glasgow. The Railplane is a single carriage passenger carrier suspended on tracks from above and supported by tracks below, with enough clearance for a steam train beneath.

"Once again to Milngavie, where the elevated track is now nearly completed."
Shot of the Bennie Rail plane track, which looks like electricity pylons supporting an overhead track.
"The track has an 80-feet span with a 16-feet clearance from the ground."
Two men wearing overcoats and bowler hats walk under the structure towards camera. They look up at the track and point with their umbrellas or walking sticks. Two workmen with flat caps are under the track.
"Mr George Bennie, of course, continually inspected the work."
Closer shot of gents looking up and pointing at the track (middle one George Bennie?).
"Returning to Beardmore's we find the car complete with suspension brackets, but without bogies."
The carriage is in a workshop on wooden supports. Men walk round and look at it.
"The car is 52 feet long and 18(?) feet in diameter. The weight is 6 tons."
Higher angled shot looking down on the Railcar. A workman opens the sliding door from inside.
"Nothing has been spared to make the interior comfortable. Waring & Gillow, of London and Liverpool, saw to that."
Shot of the luxurious interior with a patterned carpet runner and upholstered bucket chairs. There are lamps on side tables.
"Yet another visit to Milngavie, where the Railplane test line is ready for the first run."
Wide shot of the Railplane track with a field and a road in the foreground.
"You will immediately notice the three methods of transport - horse, motorcar and Railplane."
A motor vehicle is parked on the road, and a horse pulls a plough in the field. View of the end of the Railplane car, stationary on the track at the end of the line.
"The automatic signalling system is definitely foolproof."
Close up of the nose of the carriage with a propeller. There are traffic light type signals attached to the top of the track. Shot of the side of the car - the windows where the passengers will sit, and an oval stained glass panel in the sliding door. Close up of the wheels and connection above the carriage where the car is attached to the overhead section of the track.
"Passengers will certainly have a splendid view of the countryside."
The platform where the passengers will board is pictured. Pan round to the waiting Railplane and then the countryside beyond. General views of the surrounding fields.
"The motor control room."
A man stands in a small room. Controls and turning wheels can just be seen in front of him.
"These two wheels have complete control of the car."
Close up of the driving controls.
"Mrs Bennie, mother of the inventor, hoisted the Railplane flag at the opening ceremony on July 8th, 1930."
A crowd is gathered at the bottom of a flag pole. A woman raises the flag. The flag at the top of the pole.
"The first passengers to be carried by Railplane."
Well dressed ladies and gentlemen step off the wooden boarding platform into the carriage. A man (Bennie?) stands at the door and shakes their hands as they enter. He shuts the sliding door behind them. The carriage moves away and the man waves his bowler hat as they depart. Shot from underneath as the Railplane passes over the camera and along the track.
"Adhesion does not apply to any part of the drive."
Further general views of the carriage moving along the track with the propellers (front and rear) turning.
"Mr James Calder, General Manager for Scotland, and Scottish officials of the L.N.E.R. inspected the Railplane."
A crowd of smoking gents wearing bowlers and trilbies gather on the boarding platform. They look at the carriage and the bowler hat man (Bennie?) ushers them aboard. Inside the men sit - still smoking, but without their hats - in the carriage, facing each other. Shot of the guard or driver wearing a peaked hat shutting the sliding door from inside the car. The Railplane moves. Point of view of the passing countryside from the carriage window.
"In addition to the hand and automatic power braking the car is also controlled by reversing the propeller."
The Railplane slows to stop at a boarding platform, and the propeller can be seen changing direction.
"The clearance underneath the Railplane is 16 feet, railway standard bridge clearance."
The Railplane moves along between its tracks, and a steam engine pulls wagons moving below it. The tracks are parallel with each other.
"Braking is not on the wheels, but by gripping the top and bottom rails . (The only braking system of its kind in rail transport.)"
The carriage stops at a boarding platform. People gather underneath, near the stationary steam train. The Railplane is stopped above. People stand on the ground and pose for the camera. The women wear cloche hats and hold hand bags. The men have trilbies and bowler hats. One wears a top hat and a morning suit.
"Mrs Bennie, mother of the inventor, and Miss Bennie were, of course, two of the first passengers."
Mrs Bennie has a walking stick. And Miss Bennie clutches a handbag. They are two of the group who were posing for the camera. An advertising poster for the G.B.R. reads: "The George Bennie Railplane System of Transport. Swift, Safe Sure."
"Mr George Bennie Inventor of the Railplane System of Transport."
Portrait still of George Bennie.

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