BMH Online

12. Thomas Telford

I recently finished reading a biography of Thomas Telford "the 'father of civil engineering'" (written by L.T.C.Rolt).

I came to know of Thomas Telford after moving to Anglesey in North Wales, UK; he built the first of the two bridges (the Menai Suspension Bridge) linking the island to the mainland (in 1826). He also built the breakwater linking Holyhead with the island proper.

The book really opened my eyes to many of the other things Telford was involved in building from aqueducts, numerous other bridges, roads and canals. Some of these I have visited or travelled over without realising he'd built them.


Above: A photo by me of the Menai Bridge built by Telford.

While the book is only short at 224 pages, there are a few pictures and three maps as shown here; I particularly like this kind of illustration and I would have liked to have seen more.

The Ellesmere Canal (below) was first proposed in 1791 and although only certain sections were completed due to rising costs and a failure to generate the expected commercial traffic.

The Caledonian Canal (below right) connects the Scottish east and west coasts. It was completed in 1822.

The Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal (right) was opened in 1835 and formed a major link between Liverpool and the industrial heartlands of the Midlands.


This is the Pont Cysyllte Aqueduct; canal boats pass-over it but you can also walk across it too. Good luck trying to pronounce Cysyllte... The book claims it is 'Kerssulty', but assuming the name is Welsh makes this incorrect since 'll' produces a different sound.