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Thomas Telford

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Thomas Telford was one of Britain's most famous engineers, born on 9 August 1757 in Glendinning (near Langholm).


A self-taught engineer, he built a vast array of projects. His most famous work is the Menai Suspension Bridge in Wales, through which he rebuilt various sections of the LondonHolyhead Road (now mostly A5, A45, A41 and A464). Another one of his works is the old A74 in the Southern Uplands. Although a lot of it became D2 with the 1960s dualling works, it was the main way to get to Glasgow before the opening of what is now the West Coast Mainline railway in the 1850s, and later the opening of the A74(M). The bridge over the River Clyde near Crawford was adapted to D2. He also built the main road around the Isle of Arran (numbered A841), and oversaw the construction of a great number of roads in the Highlands of Scotland.


Apart from the Menai Suspension Bridge, he built hundreds of bridges all over Britain. One is the Conwy Suspension Bridge which opened at the same time as the Menai Bridge. Waterloo Bridge in Betws-y-Coed was an iron bridge built by him. There is also the circular-arch road bridge in Bannockburn and a stone bridge at Tongueland in Kirkcudbrightshire which opened in 1806. During the completion phase for the design for the new London Bridge, Telford submitted a design. This was rejected in 1824 in favour of a design by John Rennie. Telford was the main judge for the completion of the Clifton Suspension Bridge and rejected all the projected designs, including that of the eventual winner Isambard Kingdom Brunel. His own design was also rejected by the Bristol board.

Death and Honours

Telford died on the 2 September 1834, and the New Town of Telford is named in his honour. A Telford in Pennsylvania is named after him, and so is Edinburgh's Telford College.

Thomas Telford