Above: an early sketch of Telford's Menai Suspension Bridge (Image: public domain)

It's the 260th anniversary of Thomas Telford's birth today. To mark the occassion we pick four of his finest structures.​

Thomas Telford was the son of a Shepherd and ended his days as the world's most revered engineer. He was responsible for some of the greatest engineering projects of the Industrial Revolution, including the Menai Suspension Bridge and the Caledonian Canal. Below are four of his greatest structures. What is your favourite Telford work? Let us know below.

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, River Dee, North East Wales

Sir Walter Scott called this, the crowning achievement of Britain's canal age, the most impressive work of art he had ever seen. Telford's design deviated from traditional masonry aqueduct construction, featuring abutments and 18 masonry piers, joined by 19 arches with cast iron ribs, supporting a 1007ft long iron trough 126ft above the river below.

Pontcysyllte aqueduct
(Above image: Wikimedia Commons, Llywelyn2000)

Dunkeld Bridge, Perth and Kinross, Scotland

Generally considered one of the finest of his stone bridges, Telford made good use of the hollow wall technique when constructing the spandrels of the arches, reducing the weight on the piers and strengthening the structure in the process - where the old method of rubble filling added great weight and no strength.
Dunkeld Bridge
(Image: Wikimedia Commons, Ronnie Leask)

Menai Suspension Bridge, Anglesey, Wales

This elegant, 580ft, wrought iron suspension bridge was an unprecedented span at the time, and sealed Telford's reputation among contemporary engineers. 16 huge chains held up 579ft of deck, allowing 100ft of clear space beneath. The project led to a surge of interest in suspension bridge building and influenced Brunel among others.

Menai Suspension Bridge
(Image: Wikimedia Commons, Ton 1959)

Stretton Aqueduct, Staffordshire, England

One of his smallerprojects, this 30ft long, 11ft wide aqueduct spans between curved brick abutments with a towpath at each side, carrying the Shropshire Union Canal.  The trough is made up of five 6ft 6in sections, supported by six iron ribs. 

Stretton Aqueduct(Immge: Wikimedia Commons, Oosoom)

Do you have a favourite Telford structure? Tells us below.


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