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Thomas Telford 9 1757 - 2 1834

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Thomas Telford 9 1757 - 2 1834

Engineer born near Westerkirk, Dumfries, died in London. Builder of many canals, roads, bridges and Docks.

Relationships: directed Robert Pownall and recommended Thomas Rhodes.

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30 October 1793Ellesmere CanalMade General Agent, Surveyor, Engineer, Architect and Overlooker of Works for the canal which had just been authorised at a salary of 300 a year. This was a pat-time post under William Jessop, the Principal Engineer. He retained his post as Surveyor of Public Works for the County of Shropshire.
February 1795Shrewsbury CanalAppointed Engineer to succeed Josiah Clowes.
14 March 1795Shrewsbury CanalA meeting ordered "that an Iron Aqueduct be errected at Longton (agreeable to a plan to be approved bt Mr. Telford) by Messrs. William Reynolds & Company" at a cost not exceeding 2,000.
August 1795Ellesmere CanalWilliam Jessop appoved his plans for the Ruabon to Chester line of the canal.
Late 1801Leicester NavigationAbout this date he was called in to see if the Loughborough to Nanpantan rail link could be replaced by a canal.
1802Caledonian CanalAfter surveying the area around this time he recommended that public works should be carried out to "furnish employment for the industrious and valuable part of people in their own country" and advised the building of waterways and roads in the highlands and a canal through the Great Glen.
1802Leicestershire & Northampton Union CanalHe was called in to report on James Barnes' proposals for a line to connect to the Grand Junction Canal. He agreed with the start and finish points but proposed a longer course to the east with less lockage. This was to go through Market Harborough, the upper Welland valley, Maidwell, Cottesbrooke, Hollowell, Ravensthorpe and Hodenby, with a branch to Rushton at a total cost of 228,207.
July 1803Caledonian CanalAround this time he was appointed principal engineer at a daily rate of 3 guineas plus travelling expenses.
Summer June 1804Caledonian CanalOn William Jessop's advice he appointed Matthew Davison and John Telford as resident engineers.
1805Caledonian CanalHe and William Jessop decided that a basin should be made for Corpach sea-lock and that the locks should be arranged as staircase flights to save expense.
February 1805Glasgow, Paisley & Johnstone CanalHe produced a report recommending a 32 mile canal from Tradeston to a new harbour to be built at Eglinton on Ardrossen Bay with a branch to Salcoats. There was to be an 18 mile summit and the total estimated cost was 134,500.
April 1805Caledonian CanalHe told the commissioners that the eastern district of the canal employed about 500 workers, mainly from around the Moray Firth, and in the western district there were 404, including about 300 "strangers" from Appin, Arisaig, Kintyre, Lismore, Morrar and Skye also some crofters who had stettled on Corpach Moss after being evicted by Cameron of Lochiel from their farms on Loch Arkaig.
August 1805Glasgow, Paisley & Johnstone CanalA meeting in Paisley approved his plan and decided to apply for an Act of parliament.
1808Leicestershire & Northampton Union CanalHe and James Barnes were employed to do another survey for a connection to the Grand Junction Canal.
1808Old Grand Union CanalHe and James Barnes made the preliminary surveys for the line of the canal.
6 February 1808Cumberland Canal ProjectHe reported on the canal project adding that the 109,393 estimate could be reduced by 20,000 if the canal was built the same size as the Bridgewater or by 50,000 if it was a narrow canal. He said the canal could be extended to Eskdale and up the Eden valley as part of the route to Newcastle.
1809Oakham CanalHe supervised Hamilton Fulton in a survey of an extension of the canal to Stamford.
November 1809River WeaverHe was called in to report on the works on the unfinished Weston Canal. In February 1810 he reported there "had been great want of judgement and method in executing the work".
Early 1810River WeaverHe was appointed consulant engineer.
Summer June 1812Crinan CanalHe was asked by the Treasury to make a survey of the state of the canal and estimate the cost of completion.
January 1813Crinan CanalHe reported that the canal was in "a very imperfect condition". Navigation of the eastern entrance was dangeous due to a range of rocks about 500 feet long that were only visible at low water. Shallow waters outside the western end made navigation of deep draughted vessels impossible except at high tide. Other works were also required and he estimated the cost of repairs as 18,251.
April 1815Edinburgh and Glasgow Union CanalHe commented favourably on Hugh Barid's plan the canal, particularly on the line taken, but recommended that the number of locks should be reduced by joining the Forth & Clyde Canal at Lock 20 instead of at Camelon.
December 1816Crinan CanalWas made responsible for the direction of repairs to the canal and made a detailed inpection of the canal works.
1817River Great OuseHe was appointed to direct work on behalf of the Lynn Corporation jointly with Rennie on behalf of the Eua Brink Commisionners.
1817Grand Union Regents CanalHe surveyed the canal on behalf of the Exchequer Bill Loan Commissioners who agreed to lend 200,000 for the completion of the canal if 100,000 was raised by shares and that the company supplied any additional money needed to complete the work.
January 1817Crinan CanalHe found a contractor to undertake the main repairs.
1818Caledonian CanalHe was engaged in negotiations with Colonel Alexander Ranaldson McDonnell of Clanronald and Glengrry about the course of the navigation through Loch Oich.
1818Gloucester & Sharpness Ship CanalAbout this time wrote to the canal company, following a loan to them, on behalf of the Exchequer Bill Loan Commissioners complaining of John Upton's conduct in his dual role of clerk and engineer.
1818River Stour (Kent)He advises against a canal from the river to Nagden Creek near Faversham to improve communication with the Thames & Medway, saying "an improved land carriage to Whitstable, or even to Nagden, would supersede, or so far divide the business, as to render it inadvisable to incur the expense".
After 1818River YareHis view was that improving navigation to Norwich would not harm Yarmouth's interests.
May 1818Caledonian CanalHe gave the increased price of food and labour, the higher than expected cost of land, extra sections of canal that needed clay linings, more rock cutting than estimated and the assembling of dredgers in remote country as the reasons for the canal construction taking longer and costing more than was planned.
19 May 1818Knarsborough Canal SchemesHe reported on two lines, one to the Ouse a mile below Linton Lock, the other to the Wharfe a mile above Tadcaster.
March 1820Edinburgh and Glasgow Union CanalIt was reported that on his joint advice with Hugh Barid the three aquaducts (over the Avon, Almond and the Water of Leith at Slateford) were being built in an "unusually substantial and improved manner".
May 1820Gloucester & Sharpness Ship CanalHe wrote to the company saying that John Woodhouse's son had been supplying the wrong kind of stone to the works at Sharpness, adding "I am of the opinion that it is absolutly necessary to employ as resident engineer a person wholly unconnected with Contractors for Material or Labour in any shape".
1822River NeneHe and Sir John Rennie were asked for revised plans for the river outfall and its passage through Wisbech.
Late 1822Thames & Medway CanalAbout this time he inspected the canal on behalf of the Exchequer Bill Loan Commissioners following an application for a loan by the canal company.
1824BCN Main LineHe made a survey of the Birmingham canals and recommended the shortening and improving of the line between Birmingham and Smethwick, abolishing the Smethwick summit by a cutting through the hill, a new canal from Tipton to Smethwick on the 453 foot level and a new reservoir at Rotton Park.
1824Birmingham Canal NavigationsSurveyed the line for the new main line, which he recommended should have twin towpaths.
1824High Peak Junction Canal projectHe was asked to report on the scheme.
1824Scarsdale & High Peak Canal projectAbout this time he was retained to report on this project.
1824River Stour (Kent)He said that the Stonar drainage cut near Richborough had caused the harbour at Sandwich to become silted.
Summer June 1824Birmingham & Liverpool Junction CanalHe proposes the idea of a new canal from the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal at Autherley to the Ellesmere & Chester Canal at Nantwich.
Mid August 1824English & Bristol Channels Ship CanalHe published a preliminary report on the scheme.
28 September 1824River Stour (Kent)His report supporting James Morgan's plans for the navigation was approved at a shareholder's meeting. Telford's report increased the dimensions of the entrance piers, basin and channel to Sandwich and estimated the cost of the 18 mile navigation as 67,650. This was later raised it to 76,858.
December 1824English & Bristol Channels Ship CanalHe issued the full report of his survey, conducted with George Nicholls and James Green, proposing a 15 feet deep ship canal from Storford to Beer, through Creech St Michael, Ilminster and Chard, with 30 locks taking 200 ton ships.The estimated cost was 1,712,844 including two harbours.
1825River Great OuseHe reported on the silting at Lynn and recommended enlarging the Eau Brink by a third.
Early 1825Worcester & Gloucester Union Canal projectHe surveyed the line and estimated the cost as 200,000.
February 1825Scarsdale & High Peak Canal projectAt a meeting in Buxton he reported on the proposed canal line from Sheffield through Penistone to the Peak Forest Canal at Hyde, but the railway scheme that became the Cromford & High Peak Railway had been launched in June 1824.
February 1825Trent and Mersey CanalWork began on his new 2,926 yard Harecastle Tunnel.
April 1825Macclesfield CanalHaving produced two reports and an estimate he "most unequivocally" declared in favour of the canal.
May 1825Mersey & Irwell NavigationHe was asked to survey the navigation and suggest improvements. He reported in early August.
1826Birmingham & Liverpool Junction CanalAppointed the engineer for the canal which was started at his suggestion.
1826Caledonian CanalHe attributes the premature decay of the Gairlochy regulating-lock to it being built with inferior stone, no better being available in the area prior to the canal being in use.
1826Macclesfield CanalHe subscribed 1,000 to the canal company.
April 1826Haddiscoe (or New) Cut - Norfolk & Suffolk BroadsBetween 10 April and 1 May he, and five other leading civil engineers, gave evidence to parliament on the Bill to build the cut.
May 1826Birmingham & Liverpool Junction CanalThe Act is passed for the canal for which he is the engineer.
1827River NeneHe and Sir John Rennie are appointed as engineers for the Wisbech cut.
16 March 1827Trent and Mersey CanalHis new Harecastle Tunnel was completed at a cost of 112,681.
October 1827Aire & Calder Navigation - Wakefield SectionHis proposals were accepted for a cut from the Calder above Kirkthorpe lock, crossing the river at Stanley Ferry on a six-pier aqueduct with an iron trough and overhead trusses, then south to Fairies Hill and three new cuts reducing the distance to Castleford.
12 November 1827London & Birmingham Junction Canal projectAn article appeared in the Aris's Birmingham Gazette in which he is named as engineer for this canal from the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal, pssing under the Oxford Canal, to join the Grand Junction Canal at at Braunston with a branch to the Coventry Canal. This route had only 20 locks compared with 54 via Fazeley and 77 through Warwick.
1828Manchester & Dee Ship Canal projectHe together with Alexander Nimmo and Robert Stevenson reported on a scheme for a 7-mile ship canal from Hilbre islands off West Kirby parallel to the north coast of the Wirral to Wallasey, to avoid the difficult Mersey entrance channels.
After February 1830London & Birmingham Junction Canal projectHe withdrew from the scheme after the Bill was rejected due to serious irregularities in the subscribers list presented to parliament.
1833River Ouse (Yorkshire)He advised that Thomas Rhodes should be used to look at the problems of the river.
1834Birmingham & Liverpool Junction CanalHe was having problems with the construction of the Shelmore embankment and called in William Cubitt to assist.
1834Ellesmere & Chester CanalHe recommended that the company make large improvements to facilities for traders at Ellesmre Port.
28 February 1834River NeneHe and Sir John Rennie certify the completion of the new outfall cut, which cost 200,716.

 

Jim Shead Waterways Photographer & Writer
Text and photographs copyright of Jim Shead.
Home Introduction Waterways List Waterways Map Links Books DVD Articles Photo Gallery
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