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This bridge across the River Teme was the joint responsibility of both Worcestershire and Shropshire and the bridge has a bend where the two counties meet. Telford was responsible for the repair to the northern Shropshire end of the bridge. Telford's reputation in Shropshire led to his appointment in to manage the detailed design and construction of the Ellesmere Canal , linking the ironworks and collieries of Wrexham via the north-west Shropshire town of Ellesmere , with Chester , utilising the existing Chester Canal , and then the River Mersey.
Among other structures, this involved the spectacular Pontcysyllte Aqueduct over the River Dee in the Vale of Llangollen , where Telford used a new method of construction consisting of troughs made from cast iron plates and fixed in masonry.
Being a pioneer in the use of cast-iron for large scaled structures, Telford had to invent new techniques, such as using boiling sugar and lead as a sealant on the iron connections. Eminent canal engineer William Jessop oversaw the project, but he left the detailed execution of the project in Telford's hands.
TELFORD - SCOTLAND
The same period also saw Telford involved in the design and construction of the Shrewsbury Canal. When the original engineer, Josiah Clowes, died in , Telford succeeded him. One of Telford's achievements on this project was the design of Longdon-on-Tern Aqueduct , the cast-iron aqueduct at Longdon-on-Tern , pre-dating that at Pontcysyllte, and substantially bigger than the UK's first cast-iron aqueduct, built by Benjamin Outram on the Derby Canal just months earlier.
The aqueduct is no longer in use, but is preserved as a distinctive piece of canal engineering. The Ellesmere Canal was completed in and alongside his canal responsibilities, Telford's reputation as a civil engineer meant he was constantly consulted on numerous other projects. These included water supply works for Liverpool , improvements to London's docklands and the rebuilding of London Bridge c.
Most notably and again William Pulteney was influential , in Telford devised a master plan to improve communications in the Highlands of Scotland , a massive project that was to last some 20 years. Telford was consulted in by the King of Sweden about the construction of a canal between Gothenburg and Stockholm.
Telford travelled to Sweden at that time to oversee some of the more important initial excavations.
Many of Telford's projects were undertaken due to his role as a member of the Exchequer Bill Loan Commission , an organ set up under the Poor Employment Act of , to help finance public work projects that would generate employment. During his later years, Telford was responsible for rebuilding sections of the London to Holyhead road , a task completed by his assistant of ten years, John MacNeill ; today, much of the route is the A5 trunk road, although the Holyhead Road diverted off the A5 along what is now parts of A45 , A41 and A through the cities of Coventry , Birmingham and Wolverhampton.
Between London and Shrewsbury, most of the work amounted to improvements. Beyond Shrewsbury, and especially beyond Llangollen, the work often involved building a highway from scratch. Notable features of this section of the route include the Waterloo Bridge across the River Conwy at Betws-y-Coed , the ascent from there to Capel Curig and then the descent from the pass of Nant Ffrancon towards Bangor.
Between Capel Curig and Bethesda , in the Ogwen Valley , Telford deviated from the original road, built by Romans during their occupation of this area. On the island of Anglesey a new embankment across the Stanley Sands to Holyhead was constructed, but the crossing of the Menai Strait was the most formidable challenge, overcome by the Menai Suspension Bridge — Unlike modern suspension bridges, Telford used individually linked 9.
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Telford also worked on the North Wales coast road between Chester and Bangor, including another major suspension bridge at Conwy , opened later the same year as its Menai counterpart. Further afield Telford designed a road to cross the centre of the Isle of Arran. Named the 'String road', this route traverses bleak and difficult terrain to allow traffic to cross between east and west Arran avoiding the circuitous coastal route.
His work on improving the Glasgow — Carlisle road, later to become the A74 , has been described as "a model for future engineers. Telford improved on methods for the building of macadam roads by improving the selection of stone based on thickness, taking into account traffic, alignment and slopes. Telford's reputation as a man of letters may have preceded his fame as an engineer: he had published poetry between and , and an account of a tour of Scotland with Southey.
In , he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Of the 43 churches originally planned, 32 were eventually built around the Scottish highlands and islands the other 11 were achieved by redoing existing buildings. The last of these churches was built in At the time of its construction in , Galton Bridge was the longest single span in the world.
He also built Whitstable harbour in Kent in , in connection with the Canterbury and Whitstable Railway with an unusual system for flushing out mud using a tidal reservoir. He also completed the Grand Trunk after James Brindley died due to being over-worked. In , Telford was appointed the first President of the recently formed Institution of Civil Engineers , a post he held until his death. This lodge no longer exists. He was a founder member of Phoenix Lodge, No. Telford designed a room within the George Inn for the lodge. Telford's young draughtsman and clerk —34 George Turnbull in his diary states:.
On the 23rd [August ] Mr Telford was taken seriously ill of a bilious derangement to which he had been liable … he grew worse and worse … [surgeons] attended him twice a day, but it was to no avail for he died on the 2nd September, very peacefully at about 5pm. He was never married. Today you can walk out to the lock gate which guards the canal and appreciate their efforts.
Telford built many amazing bridges but in a competition to find the most beautiful surely the lovely Craigellechie Bridge over the River Spey would come first. The bridge, built between and , springs from castle-like stone abutments, but is made of the finest iron. It was innovative and much admired when it opened.
There are fine views from the top of this elegant structure, whose engineering looks ahead to the railway age which was about to begin. Telford was an architect as well as an engineer and you can see the care he took in his work to give people good housing and working conditions. There is a garden and curved crescents modelled, it was said, on the town of Bath in England and intended to shelter people from cold winter winds.
Today much of it is intact. Telford designed churches in the English county of Shropshire, early in his career, but it was only in the s that he began building them in Scotland. Funded by the government, and built to a simple, economical design, there were originally 32 Telford churches across the Highlands and Islands. Today, not all survive. It is a journey to reach it but worthwhile. It leads into the lovely small town, crossing a river which in spate carries more than twice as much water as the Thames.
TELFORD, THOMAS (1757 - 1834), civil engineer
This was one of the first big bridges Telford built in Scotland and he chose an elegant design in stone. At one end, under the arch, you can find the rusted iron gate of the old town gaol. Today the A9 road rushes north from Inverness, crossing deep estuaries cut into the coast. The prototype at Bonar Bridge over Dornoch Firth, erected in , lasted until Of Telford's cast-iron bridges, Rolt aptly commented, 'No other man has ever handled cast iron with such complete assurance and understanding, his exact knowledge … enabling him to achieve that perfection of proportion which gives strength the deceptive semblance of fragility' Rolt , xiii.
Telford's creation on the Holyhead Road of the elegant Menai wrought-iron suspension bridge, with an unprecedented span of nearly ft , was his greatest work and the most outstanding bridge development of the early nineteenth century. Its final form evolved from his experimentally based proposal of —18 for Runcorn Bridge, further experimental work, and an almost continuous design process, to its triumphal opening in In Telford had correctly anticipated modern practice in envisaging parallel wire main cables, but eventually opted for flat chain-bar links as being more practicable to achieve and maintain at that time.
The masonry, which is of exceptional quality, was executed by John Wilson. Hazledine manufactured the ironwork, the testing and fixing of which under the supervision of resident engineer William Provis , his brother John Provis , and Thomas Rhodes , was at the forefront of technology. Nearly 36, bars and plates, including all those used in the bridge, were tested to about twice their design load.
A relatively minor but significant drawback of the bridge, which gave Telford an anxious time in —6, was that its deck undulated in strong winds, but fortunately only moderately during his lifetime. This was adequately remedied at moderate cost under Provis's direction in Telford's experimental results were widely propagated in leading textbooks and in Provis published a magnificently illustrated account of the Menai Bridge project dedicated to Telford.
In the Institution of Civil Engineers and American Society of Civil Engineers recognized both bridges as 'international civil engineering landmarks'. The project led to a surge in suspension bridge building and exercised a fundamental influence on the practice and development of I.
Brunel , J. Clark , J. Rendel , and others between and , establishing this type of bridge in its true role as the most economic means of achieving the largest spans. From about , according to J. Roebling in , because suspension bridges were not considered rigid enough for railway use, Telford's great achievement was mistakenly left unappreciated and greatly undervalued.
The Menai Bridge was tastefully reconditioned in Conwy suspension bridge, created by means of the identical technology, also opened in , still has its original ironwork. Telford's other suspension bridge projects included his controversial Clifton Bridge proposal of , in which he envisaged possible deck undulation being inhibited by means of smaller spans, at the same time offering an opportunity for two splendid Gothic revival towers rising dramatically from the floor of the gorge.
The design is understood to have received general approval, but it failed to attract sufficient funding. Telford believed that a fundamental disadvantage of carriage by railway, as distinct from canals and tramways, was that all traffic would have to be handled by the company owning the line, thus creating monopolies to the disadvantage of the user. He considered that steam power could best be applied to land transport in the form, not of railways, but of self-propelled vehicles operating on roads.
He supported the setting up of and gave evidence to a parliamentary select committee in , which reported that steam carriages were practicable and safe and should be protected from high tolls. By Telford was a leading promoter in a steam carriage company intended to operate on the London to Holyhead road and took part in an experimental journey on the London to Birmingham section in Dance's steam carriage.
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The size of the engine proved to be insufficient and the carriage only reached Stoney Stratford, 57 miles from London, at an average speed of 7 m. High tolls, opposition from vested interests, mechanical shortcomings, and Telford's death in the following year, all contributed to the demise of this initiative. Railway projects on which Telford acted as engineer or advised included the Stratford and Moreton line —6 , operated with horse traction, and the Clarence —9 , Newcastle and Carlisle , and Liverpool and Manchester —9 railways; the latter's directors had offered him the post of engineer in but he declined, possibly out of loyalty to some of the canal companies by whom he was employed.
Important railway proposals which he planned, but which were not executed, included the Glasgow to Berwick line , to be operated with horse traction and steam-powered inclined planes; the London to Dover , locomotive operated; East and West India docks ; and the Glasgow, Forth, and Clyde Canal to Broomielaw , which was mainly in tunnel. Telford made an important contribution to the drainage of the English fens. In —21, jointly with the elder John Rennie , he advised on the execution of the Eau Brinck Cut which bypassed the meandering Ouse above King's Lynn.
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The cut, the width of which had been specified by Joseph Huddart , proved to be insufficient and soon afterwards it was widened at Telford's instigation with most beneficial effects. It was on this work, while visiting Crab Hole with the younger John Rennie , that he was soaked to the skin in a storm and caught a severe chill. On his way back to London, Telford was taken with a violent diarrhoea at Cambridge, where he was confined for a fortnight and nearly died.
His health never fully recovered and the complaint returned from time to time with increasing severity until his death.