Thomas Telford

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Thomas Telford
Craigellachie Bridge by Telford
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Born:   9/8/1757
Died:   2/9/1834
Operated:   Across UK

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.

A selection of Telford's more noteworthy bridges are below:

Image Name Classified Road(s) Date More Info Map
A5menai.jpg Menai Suspension Bridge A5 1826
SABRE • Google • geo

Crglche-br1.jpg Carigellachie Bridge former A941 1814 First of several bridges of a similar design, and the only one still standing in the Scottish Highlands
SABRE • Google • geo

Struy-br1.jpg Struy Bridge A831 1817
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A5 - Waterloo Bridge - Coppermine - 3074.jpg Waterloo Bridge, Betws-y-Coed A5 1815
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Spean-br1.jpg Spean Bridge A82 1819 Widened in 1932 when the A82 was upgraded
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A9-mound2.jpg The Mound A9 1816 The bridge was fitted with sluice gates in order to reclaim a vast amount of tidal marsh for agriculture; the gates are still in use.
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List of Crossings

Crossing On Road(s) Opening Date
Craigellachie Bridge
Elvanfoot Bridge
Holt Bridge
Menai Suspension Bridge
Montford Bridge
Nethy Bridge
Waterloo Bridge (Caernarfonshire)

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
CrossingsCraigellachie Bridge • Elvanfoot Bridge • Holt Bridge • Menai Suspension Bridge • Montford Bridge • Nethy Bridge • Waterloo Bridge (Caernarfonshire)
Road and Bridge Builders
pre-Victorian EngineersMajor William Caulfeild • Abraham Darby • John McAdam • John Rennie • John Smeaton • Thomas Telford • General George Wade
Victorian EngineersIsambard Kingdom Brunel • Joseph Mitchell
20th Century EngineersOwen Williams
Engineering CompaniesCleveland Bridge Company • Fairhurst Engineering • Stevenson Family