Thomas Telford

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Thomas Telford FRS, FRSE (1757-1834) was a Scottish civil engineer, architect and stonemason, and a noted road, bridge and canal builder.


Early career

Telford was born on 9 August 1757 at Glendinning, a hill farm 3 miles west of Eskdalemuir Kirk, in the rural parish of Westerkirk, in Eskdale, Dumfriesshire. His father John Telford, a shepherd, died soon after Thomas was born. Thomas was raised in poverty by his mother Janet Jackson (d.1794).[1]

At the age of 14 he was apprenticed to a stonemason, and some of his earliest work can still be seen on the bridge across the River Esk in Langholm in the Scottish borders. He worked for a time in Edinburgh and in 1782 he moved to London where (after meeting architects Robert Adam and Sir William Chambers) he was involved in building additions to Somerset House there. Two years later he found work at Portsmouth dockyard and — although still largely self-taught — was extending his talents to the specification, design and management of building projects.

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