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THOMAS TELFORD (1757-1834)

PRINTED BY
WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED,
LONDON AND BECCLES.


 

Ed.—in this online transcription of Smiles's 'Telford', I have added a number of images to those originally published, mainly to illustrate Telford's work as it exists today.  Additional images are listed separately in the index at the bottom of this page.  Captions, together with footnotes prefixed "Ed.", are my own.


 

CONTENTS.

――――♦――――

EARLY ROADS AND MODES OF
TRAVELLING.

――――♦――――


CHAPTER I.
OLD ROADS.


Roads as agents of civilisation—Their important uses—Ancient British trackways or ridgeways—The Romans and their roads in Britain—Decay of the Roman roads—Early legislation relating to highways—Roads near London—The Weald of Kent—Great Western roads—Hollow ways or lanes—Roads on Dartmoor—in Sussex—at Kensington.



CHAPTER II.
EARLY MODES OF CONVEYANCE.


Riding on horseback the ancient mode of travelling—Shakespeare's description of travelling in 'Henry IV.'—Queen Elizabeth and her coach—Introduction of coaches or waggons—Painful journeys by coach—Carriers in reign of James I.—Great North Road in reign of Charles I.—Mace's description of roads and travellers—stage-coaches introduced—Sobrière's account of the Dover stage-coach—Thoresby's account of stage-coaches and travelling—Roads and travelling in North Wales—Proposal to suppress stage-coaches—Tediousness and discomforts of travelling by coach—Pennant's account of the Chester and London stage—Travelling on horseback preferred—The night coach—Highway robbers and foot-pads—Methods of transport of merchandise—Pack-horse convoys—Traffic between Lancashire and Yorkshire—Signs of the pack-horse.



CHAPTER III.
MANNERS AND CUSTOMS INFLUENCED BY
THE STATE OF THE ROADS.


Restricted intercourse between districts—Local dialects and customs thereby preserved—Camden's fear of travelling into the barbarous regions of the North—Rev. Mr. Brome's Travels in England—Old Leisure—Imperfect postal communication—Hawkers and pedlars—Laying in stores for winter—Household occupations—Great fairs of ancient times—Local fairs—Fair on Dartmoor—Primitive manners of Dartmoor District.



CHAPTER IV.
ROADS AND TRAVELLING IN SCOTLAND
IN THE LAST CENTURY.


Poverty of Scotland—Backwardness of agriculture—Idleness of the people—Andrew Fletcher's description of Scotland—Slavery of colliers and salters—Improvements in agriculture opposed—Low wages of the labouring population—State of the Lothians and Ayrshire—Wretched state of the roads—Difficulty of communication between districts—Coach started between Edinburgh and Glasgow—Carriers' perils between Edinburgh and Selkirk—Dangers of travelling in Galloway—Lawlessness of the Highlands—Picking and lifting of cattle—Ferocity of population on the Highland Border—Ancient civilisation of Scotland.



CHAPTER V.
ROADS AND TRAVELLING IN ENGLAND TOWARDS
THE END OF LAST CENTURY.


Progress made in travelling by coach—Fast coaches established—Bad state of the roads—Foreigners' accounts of travelling in England—Herr Moritz's journey by the basket coach—Arthur Young's descriptions of English roads—Palmer's mail coaches introduced—The first 'Turnpike' roads—Turnpike riots—The rebellion of 1745—Passing of numerous highway Acts—Road-making thought beneath the dignity of the engineer.



CHAPTER VI.
JOHN METCALF, ROAD-MAKER.


Metcalf's boyhood—His blindness—His boldness—Becomes a Musician—His travels—Journey on foot from London to Harrogate—Joins the army as musician in the rebellion of 1745—Adventures in Scotland—Becomes travelling merchant and horse dealer—Begins road-making—Builds a bridge—His extensive road contracts in Yorkshire and Lancashire—Manner of making his surveys—His skill in road-making—His last road—His death—Roads in the south of England—Want of roads on Lincoln Heath—Land lighthouses—Dunstan pillar—Rapid improvement in the roads—Application of steam—Sydney Smith on improved facilities of communication.


――――♦――――


LIFE OF THOMAS TELFORD.

CHAPTER I.
ESKDALE.


Eskdale—Langholm—Former lawlessness of the Border population—Johnnie Armstrong—Border energy—Westerkirk—Telford's birthplace—Glendinning—Valley of the Meggat—The "unblameable shepherd"—Telford's mother—Early years—"Laughing Tam"—Put to school—His school-fellows.



CHAPTER II.
LANGHOLM—TELFORD A STONEMASON.


'Telford apprenticed to a stonemason—Runs away—Re-apprenticed to a mason at Langholm—Building operations in the district—Miss Pasley lends books to young Telford—Attempts to write Poetry—Becomes village letter-writer—Works as a journeyman mason—Employed on Langholm Bridge—Manse of Westerkirk—Poem of 'Eskdale'—Hews headstones and doorheads—Works as a mason at Edinburgh—Study of architecture—Revisits Eskdale—His ride to London.



CHAPTER III.
WORKING MASON IN LONDON, AND FOREMAN
AT PORTSMOUTH.


Telford a working man in London—Obtains employment as a mason at Somerset House—Correspondence with Eskdale friends—Observations on his fellow-workmen—Proposes to begin business, but wants money—Mr. Pulteney—Becomes foreman of builders at Portsmouth Dockyard—Continues to write poetry—Employment of his time—Prints letters to his mother.



CHAPTER IV.
SURVEYOR FOR THE COUNTY OF SALOP.

Superintends repairs of Shrewsbury Castle—Appointed Surveyor for County of Salop—Superintends erection of new gaol—Interview with John Howard—His studies in science and literature—Poetical exercises—Fall of St. Chad's Church, Shrewsbury—Discovery of the Roman city of Uriconium—Overseer of felons—Mrs. Jordan at Shrewsbury—Telford's indifference to music—politics, Paine's 'Rights of Man'—Reprints his poem of 'Eskdale.'



CHAPTER V.
FIRST EMPLOYMENT AS ENGINEER.


Advantages of mechanical training to an engineer—Erects Montford Bridge—Erects St. Mary Magdalen Church, Bridgenorth—Telford's design—Architectural tour—Bath—Studies in British Museum—Oxford—Birmingham—Study of architecture—Appointed Engineer to the Ellesmere Canal.



CHAPTER VI.
THE ELLESMERE CANAL.


Course of the Ellesmere Canal—Success of the early canals—The Act obtained and working survey made—Chirk Aqueduct—Pont-Cysylltau Aqueduct—Telford's hollow walls—His cast iron trough at Pont-Cysylltau—The canal works completed—Revisits Eskdale—Early impressions corrected—Tour in Wales—Conduct of Ellesmere Canal navigation—His literary studies and compositions.



CHAPTER VII.
IRON AND OTHER BRIDGES.


Use of iron in bridge-building—Design of a Lyons architect—First iron bridge erected at Coalbrookdale—Tom Paine's iron bridge—Wear iron bridge, Sunderland—Telford's iron bridge at Build. was—His iron lock-gates and turn-bridges—Projects a one-arched bridge of iron over the Thames—Bewdley stone bridge—Tongueland Bridge—Extension of Telford's engineering business—Literary friendships—Thomas Campbell—Miscellaneous reading.



CHAPTER VIII.
HIGHLAND ROADS AND BRIDGES.


Progress of Scotch agri culture—Romilly's account—State of the Highlands—Want of roads—Use of the Cas-chrom—Emigration—Telford's survey of Scotland—Lord Cockburn's account of the difficulties of travelling the North Circuit—Parliamentary Commission of Highland Roads and Bridges appointed—Dunkeld Bridge built—920 miles of new roads constructed— Craigellachie Bridge—Travelling facilitated—Agriculture improved—Moral results of Telford's Highland contracts—Rapid progress of the Lowlands—Results of parish schools.



CHAPTER IX.
TELFORD'S SCOTCH HARBOURS.


Highland harbours—Wick and Pulteney Town—Columnar pier work—Peterhead Harbour—Frazerburgh Harbour—Banff Harbour—Old history of Aberdeen, its witch-burning and slave-trading—Improvement of its harbour—Telford's design carried out—Dundee Harbour.



CHAPTER X.
CALEDONIAN AND OTHER CANALS.


Canal projected through the Great Glen of the Highlands—Survey by James Watt—Survey by Telford—Tide-basin at Corpach—Neptune's Staircase—Dock at Clachnaharry—The chain of lochs—Construction of the works—Commercial failure of the canal—Telford's disappointment—Glasgow and Ardrossan Canal—Weaver Navigation—Gotha Canal, Sweden—Gloucester and Berkeley, and other canals—Harecastle Tunnel—Birmingham Canal—Macclesfield Canal—Birmingham and Liverpool Junction Canal—Telford's pride in his canals.



CHAPTER XI.
TELFORD AS A ROAD-MAKER.


Increase of road-traffic—Improvement of the main routes between the principal towns—Carlisle and Glasgow road—Telford's principles of road-construction—Macadam—Gartland Crags Bridge—Improvement of the London and Edinburgh post road—Communication with Ireland—Wretched state of the Welsh roads—Telford's survey of the Shrewsbury and Holyhead road—Its construction—Roads and railways—London and Shrewsbury post road—Roads near London—Coast road, North Wales.



CHAPTER XII.
THE MENAI AND CONWAY SUSPENSION BRIDGES.


Bridges projected over the Menai Straits—Telford's designs—Ingenious plan of suspended centering—Design of a suspension bridge over the Mersey at Runcorn—Design of suspension bridge at Menai—The works begun—The main piers—The suspension chains—Hoisting of the first main chain—Progress of the works to completion—The bridge formally opened—Conway Suspension Bridge.



CHAPTER XIII.
DOCKS, DRAINAGE, AND BRIDGES.


Résumé of English engineering—General increase in trade and population—The Thames—St. Katherine's Docks—Tewkesbury Bridge—Gloucester Bridge—Dean Bridge, Edinburgh—Glasgow Bridge—Telford's works of drainage in the Fens—The North Level—The Nene Outfall—Effects of Fen drainage.



CHAPTER XIV.
SOUTHEY'S TOUR IN THE HIGHLANDS.


Southey sets out to visit the Highlands in Telford's company—Dunkeld—Works at Dundee Harbour—Bervie Harbour—Mitchell and Gibbs—Aberdeen Harbour—Approach to Banff—Cullen Harbour—The Forces road—Beauly Bridge—Bonar Bridge—Fleet Mound—Southey's description of the Caledonian Canal and works—John Mitchell—Takes leave of Telford—Results of Highland road-making.



CHAPTER XV.
TELFORD'S LATER YEARS-DEATH AND CHARACTER.


Telford's residence in London—Leaves the Salopian—First President of Institute of Civil Engineers—Consulted by foreign Governments as to roads and bridges—His views on railways—Failure of health—Consulted as to Dover Harbour—Illness and death—His character—His friends—Integrity—Views on moneymaking—Benevolence—Patriotism—His Will—Libraries in Eskdale supported by his bequests.


――――♦――――



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

――――♦――――

FULL-PAGE ILLUSTRATIONS.
 

 

PAGE

THOMAS TELFORD

 Frontispiece

ANCIENT CAUSEWAY NEAR WHITBY

 1.

THE CANAL, LLANGOLLEN

200.

BRIDGE AT DUNKELD

246.

FOLKESTONE HARBOUR

258.

LOCKS ON THE CALEDONIAN CANAL

290.

ST. KATHERINE'S DOCKS

350.


――――♦――――


LINE ILLUSTRATIONS.
 

 

PAGE

 

PAGE

The Old Stage Waggon

17.

The Cas-Chrom

235.

The Night Coach

31.

Map of Telford's Roads

243.

The Pack-horse Convoy

36.

Dunkeld Bridge

245.

Pack-horse Halfpenny Tokens

39.

Craig-Ellachie Bridge

248.

Site of an ancient Fair on Dartmoor

50.

Folkestone Harbour

258.

The Devonshire Crooks

56.

Plan of Peterhead Harbour

260.

The Basket Coach, 1780

79.

Peterhead

261.

Metcalf's Birthplace, Knaresborough

91.

Banff

267.

Portrait of Metcalf, the Blind Road-maker

109.

Plan of Banff Harbour

269.

Metcalf's House at Spofforth

118.

Plan of Aberdeen Harbour

276.

Land Lighthouse on Lincoln Heath

120.

Aberdeen Harbour

277.

Valley of "The Unblameable Shepherd," Eskdale

126.

Section of Pier-head work

279.

Map of Eskdale

128.

Plan of Dundee Harbour

280.

Telford's Birthplace

135.

Dundee Harbour

281.

Cottage at the Crooks

137.

Map of Caledonian Canal

286.

Westerkirk Church and School

139.

Lock, Caledonian Canal

289.

Telford's Tool-marl

145.

Cross section of Harecastle Tunnel

300.

Valley of Eskdale

147.

Galton Bridge, Birmingham Canal

302.

Lower Valley of the Meggat

152.

Portrait of Mr. Macadam

309.

Shrewsbury Castle

178.

Gartland Crags Bridge

311.

St. Mary Magdalen, Bridgenorth

188.

Road descent near Bettws-y-Coed

321.

Map of Ellesmere Canal

189.

Road near Nant-Ffrancon

322.

Chirk Aqueduct

192.

Map of Menai Strait

327.

Section of Pier

193.

Proposed Cast-Iron Bridge over the Strait

328.

Side view of Cast-Iron Trough

196.

Plan of Suspended Centering

329.

Pont-Cysylltau Aqueduct

197.

Outline of Menai Bridge

333.

Section of Pont-Cysylltau Aqueduct

200.

Section of Main Pier

336.

The first Iron Bridge, Coalbrookdale

210.

Mode of Fixing Chains in the Rock

338.

Wear Iron Bridge, Sunderland

214.

Suspension of the first Chain

341.

Buildwas Bridge

216.

Menai Suspension Bridge

344.

Proposed Iron Bridge over the Thames

221.

Conway Suspension Bridge

346.

Bewdley Bridge

224.

Dean Bridge, Edinburgh

353.

Tongueland Bridge

225.

Glasgow Bridge

357.

Section of Polish Road . . . 381.

Telford's Burial-place in Westminster Abbey . . .  387.


――――♦――――

 
ILLUSTRATIONS
ADDED TO THIS ON-LINE EDITION
 

 

PAGE

The Parish Church of St Michael the Archangel, Chagford.

54.

Montford Bridge, Shropshire, spanning the River Severn.

180.

St. Mary Magdalen Church, Bridgnorth, Shropshire.

180.

Map of the original proposed route of the Ellesmere canal,
    published in 1795.

189.

The Chirk Aqueduct, the Llangollen (formerly the Ellesmere)
    Canal.

192.

The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct the Llangollen Canal—side view
    of cast iron trough.

196.

Cast-iron aqueduct at Longden-on-Tern, Shrewsbury Canal, 1796.

196.

The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct the Llangollen Canal—trough seen
    from beneath.

197.

Abraham Darby's Iron Bridge across the Severn at Ironbridge, Shropshire.

208.

Bridge over the Severn at Bewdley.

223.

Bridge across the Dee at Tongland, Kirkcudbright (1806).

225.

General Wade's Bridge at Aberfeldy (1733), Perth and Kinross, Scotland.

233.

Craigellachie Bridge (1812-14), Speyside, Scotland.

247.

Craigellachie Bridge — side-on view.

249.

Loch Lochy on the Caledonian Canal.

283.

Neptune's Staircase on the Caledonian Canal.

287.

The Clachnaharry railway swing bridge across the Caledonian Canal.

288.

The Caledonian Canal at Fort Augustus.

291.

Cruise ship on the Gotha Canal.

296.

The start of the Birmingham Canal at Gas Street Basin.

297.

Galton Bridge (1829).

303.

Construction of the first macadamized road in the United States (1823).

311.

Cartland Crags Bridge.

313.

Waterloo Bridge, Betws-y-Coed.

321.

Menai Suspension Bridge.

327.

Menai Suspension Bridge in the evening.

345.

Menai Suspension Bridge—view prior to rebuilding.

345.

Engraved portrait of Thomas Telford.

348.

St. Katherine's Docks, London.

351.

View and plan of the Mythe Bridge, Tewkesbury.

352.

Dean Bridge, Edinburgh.

354.

Robert Southey.

365.

Telford's bridge across the Tay, Dunkeld.

366.

 



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