The famous Scottish engineer who built roads, bridges and canals, and became known as the ‘Colossus of Roads’.
Thomas Telford (1757–1834) is well known to those living in north Walesfor his building projects. These took place during the early 19th century, and were essential improvements in connecting London with Dublin.
Probably Telford’s greatest achievement is the construction of the A5 road from London to Holyhead, a road still in use through north Wales today. The route he constructed through the glaciated valley of Nant Ffrancon remains an impressive stretch of road building, and is well worth the drive down the valley.
Arguably one of Telford’s finest achievements was his 1826 Suspension Bridge across the Menai Strait at Porthaethwy, known subsequently in English as Menai Bridge. Completed within seven years, this was the longest suspension bridge of its time, spanning 580ft (180m). Telford used individually linked 9.5ft (2.9m) iron-eye bars for the cables.
Telford also worked on the north Wales coast road from Chester to Bangor (1827–30) and another suspension bridge at Conwy. This was opened later the same year as the Menai Suspension Bridge, in 1826, and crossed the River Conwy.
Another of Telford’s achievements is the spectacular Pontcysyllte Aqueduct across the River Dee. In constructing this aqueduct he pioneered the use of cast-iron troughs held by masonry. Now a World Heritage Site, Pontcysyllte Aqueduct carries the Llangollen Canal.
Thomas Telford is buried at Westminster Abbey.