Thomas Telford - Scottish Engineer


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This revealed a network that barely existed north and west of the Great Glen.

Engineering achievements

Over the 20 years from Telford followed up his survey with the construction of over miles of road and bridges in the Highlands. During this period he also built many harbours and jetties in Scotland as well as the Caledonian Canal, although this took much longer than planned, and was overtaken by developments in shipbuilding by the time it opened.


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Meanwhile he also continued his work south of the border, notably on the London to Holyhead road. He also worked abroad, designing the Gotha Canal for the King of Sweden. He was back in Scotland in to begin construction of 32 standardised "Parliamentary Churches" across the Highlands and Islands, each comprising a T-shaped church and an accompanying manse.

Telford was still working when he died in London on 2 September at the age of He was buried in Westminster Abbey.

BBC - Shropshire - History - Telford - The builder of Britain

As an engineer he had made a huge and lasting impression on his native Scotland, and far beyond. But his influence is really felt through the huge number of roads, bridges, harbours and churches he left behind him, many of which still stand today, years later. And in Shropshire the town of Telford is named in his memory.

Another View of Craigellachie Bridge. 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.

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Thomas Telford – the colossus of roads

It leads into the lovely small town, crossing a river which in spate carries more than twice as much water as the Thames. 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. One of them is Loch Fleet near Dornoch. Here Telford designed one of his most innovative structures , a long, low embankment that cuts the Loch off from the sea. To allow water to flow through it Telford fitted a row of one-way iron gates, blocking the rising tide from flowing inland but opening at low tide to allow water to drain out to sea — and wild salmon to swim up to spawn.

HISTORY - Thomas Telford - Julian Glover

These sluice gates have been expanded but still work today. You can park off the main road and when you do take a moment to look out to sea, where seals are a common sight.

Thomas Telford – the Colossus of Roads

In the early nineteenth century, with government help, he oversaw the building of around a thousand miles of roads through the previously-impenetrable Highlands. He took care to give them a good, secure surface and to make sure they could stand up to the worst of weathers. One section to look out for runs through the mighty mountains of Glen Coe. VisitScotland uses cookies to enhance your experience on our website.

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Thomas Telford - Scottish Engineer Thomas Telford - Scottish Engineer
Thomas Telford - Scottish Engineer Thomas Telford - Scottish Engineer
Thomas Telford - Scottish Engineer Thomas Telford - Scottish Engineer
Thomas Telford - Scottish Engineer Thomas Telford - Scottish Engineer
Thomas Telford - Scottish Engineer Thomas Telford - Scottish Engineer
Thomas Telford - Scottish Engineer Thomas Telford - Scottish Engineer

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