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Thomas Telford
(1757-1834)

Thomas Telford

Engineer

An uneducated Dumfriesshire stonemason who went on to become a giant of the Industrial Revolution. His first break was landing an important surveying job in
Shropshire, where his designs for canal aqueducts were innovative. Government road- and bridge-building schemes in the Highlands followed, while work in England and Europe also helped make his reputation as the foremost civil engineer of his day, earning him the nickname, ‘the Colossus of Roads’. One of his most famous structures is the Menai Bridge at Anglesey, one of the few in Britain to use the suspension principle. Despite his success he was never personally wealthy, choosing projects which were in the public, rather than his own, interest.

Thomas Telford BiographyThomas Telford Thomas Telford, sometimes known to his contemporaries as 'the Colossus of Roads', was one of the giants of the heroic age of civil engineering in Britain. Today, he is probably best remembered for his Menai Straits and Conwy bridges, and for the stunning Pontcysyllte aqueduct over the River Dee, but the variety and scope of the projects he undertook in a working life that spanned until his death in 1834 were truly awe-inspiring. His undertakings ranged from the renovation of Shrewsbury Castle to bridges by the dozen, and included major canals and a substantial proportion of the entire transport infrastructure of Scotland - roads, bridges, harbours and the massive undertaking of the Caledonian Canal - as well as the reconstruction of the London(Hollyhead road. For a man who began his career as an apprentice stonemason in the Scottish lowlands, such achievements appear to be quite monument on their own. But in fact, as Anthony Burton shows, although he had no more than a rudimentary education, he immersed himself in the cultural and artistic life of the period, always believing that his profession should serve an aesthetic as well as a practical purpose. Today, his surviving works stand as proof, if proof were needed, that engineering is not just an exercise in problem-solving but also an expression of the creative imagination

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