Parlane Macfarlane was educated at Allan Glens School and the Royal Technical College, Glasgow. He joined the Caledonian Railway as a civil engineer in 1915, but shortly afterwards joined the Royal Engineers with whom he served in Egypt, Palestine and France during WW1. In 1921 he joined the then Uganda Railway as an Assistant Engineer, being promoted to Acting District Engineer, District Engineer, Senior District Engineer and Assistant Chief Engineer over the coming 20 years of service with the Kenya and Uganda Railways and Harbours. In these roles he was responsible for overseeing numerous high profile projects, including parts of the new Kilindini Harbour (deep water berths), the Railway Brickworks and Concrete Factory, reconditioning of the Voi Kahe branch railway, and construction of a pier on Lake Victoria, as well as dozens of bridges, numerous large buildings and hundreds of miles of railway track. Macfarlane lived in Mombasa and later Nairobi and was a keen golfer, instrumental in setting up the Railways Golf Club. He returned to the UK towards the end of WW2 after carrying out a number of wartime projects for the military. Macfarlane was married to Georgie and had 2 children, Ian and Margaret.