Thomas Telford

(1757—1834) civil engineer

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Scots mason, surveyor, architect, and engineer of genius. He was employed on the building of Edinburgh New Town before he moved to London in 1782. Through the good offices of Sir William Pulteney, Bt. (1729–1805), MP for Shrewsbury, Salop., he was employed to carry out certain works in that town, including alterations to the Castle (1787). He built (1787–93) the County Gaol there to designs by John Hiram Haycock (1759–1830) with modifications by John Howard (c. 1726–90), the prison reformer. He designed the robust Neo-Classical Church of St Mary, Bridgnorth, Salop., (1792–4), the utilitarian octagonal Church of St Michael, Madeley, Salop., (1794–6), and pioneered the use of iron for the construction of bridges (he was Surveyor of Bridges to the County of Shropshire) with his hand-some structure at Buildwas (1795–6—demolished). His canal aqueducts at Longdon, Salop. (1793–4), Pont-y-Cysyllte, near Llangollen, Wales (1795–1805), and Chirk, Denbighshire (1796–1801), are among the finest and most dignified of such structures in the world. Telford de-signed more than 1,000 bridges, including the Menai (1819–26) and Conway (1821–6) suspension bridges, Caernarfonshire, Wales, Craigellachie iron bridge, Banffshire, Scotland (1814–15), and arched bridges at Bewdley, Worcs. (1797–9), Dunkeld, Perthshire, Scotland (1806–9), and Dean, Edinburgh (1829–31). His works as a road-and canal-builder and his designs for harbours and docks (including works at Wick, Caithness (from 1808), Aberdeen, Peterhead, Banff, Leith, and the very important St Katherine Docks, London (1825–8—with severe brick warehouses by Hardwick (mostly demolished) ), were among the most accomplished designs for such buildings ever made. He was responsible for over 30 churches and manses in the Scottish Highlands (1825–34), including those at Acharacle, Ardgour, Portnahaven, and Strontian (all in Argyll), and Ullapool (Ross-shire). He laid out Pulteney Model Town, near Wick, Caithness (1808).

Colvin (1995);Nicholson (1835);Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004);Penfold (ed.) (1980);Rolt (1958);Skempton et al. (eds.) (2002);Smiles (1862);Telford (1838);Thorne (ed.) (1990)

Subjects: Architecture — History.

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