Man Of Iron - Thomas Telford And The Building Of Britain

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012017013020170131 (R4)

Biography of revolutionary engineer Thomas Telford, much of whose work endures to this day

"There was no better moment to be born, if you wanted to change the world by building things, than Britain in the second half of the eighteenth century."

The first full modern biography of Thomas Telford: a shepherd's son who changed the world with his revolutionary engineering. Telford's life spanned a fascinating time in British history: born in post-Union, post-Enlightenment Scotland, Telford forged a successful career in London and then across the country working on projects that set the stage for the Industrial Revolution.

Born in the Scottish Borders in 1757, Telford's beginnings were not auspicious. But he gained a fine education in his village school and, in that egalitarian time and place, mixed there with children from all different classes. Indeed, contacts from his schooldays played a key role in helping him to become established as one of Britain's leading engineers.

A stonemason turned architect turned engineer Telford built churches, harbours, canals, docks and the famously vertiginous Pontcysyllte aqueduct in Wales. He invented the modern road and created the backbone of our national road network. His bridges are some of the most dramatic and beautiful ever built, most of all the Menai Bridge, which spans the dangerous channel between the mainland and Anglesey. Astonishingly, gratifyingly, almost everything he built remains in use today.

Reader: Robin Laing

Writer: Julian Glover

Abridger: David Jackson Young

Producer: Kirsteen Cameron.

022017013120170201 (R4)

The first full modern biography of Thomas Telford: a shepherd's son, who revolutionised British engineering and set the stage for the Industrial Revolution.

Born in the Scottish Borders in 1757, Telford's beginnings were not auspicious. But he gained a fine education in his village school and, in that egalitarian time and place, mixed there with children from all different classes. Indeed, contacts from his schooldays played a key role in helping him to become established as one of Britain's leading engineers.

After completing his apprenticeship to a stonemason in Langholm, Telford left for London in 1782 with letters of introduction to the two leading architects of the day: Robert Adam and William Chambers. But success eluded him in the metropolis - instead, he found it in Shropshire, thanks to another Borders' contact, Sir William Pulteney, who invited him to work on the reconstruction of Shrewsbury Castle. This led on to his appointment as county surveyor and soon Telford was working on a huge number of public and private properties.

Reader: Robin Laing

Writer: Julian Glover

Abridger: David Jackson Young

Producer: Kirsteen Cameron.

Biography of revolutionary engineer Thomas Telford, much of whose work endures to this day

032017020120170202 (R4)

Work begins on Thomas Telford's masterpiece: the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in North Wales.

The first full modern biography of Thomas Telford: a shepherd's son, born in 1757, who revolutionised British engineering and set the stage for the Industrial Revolution.

After completing his apprenticeship to a stonemason in Langholm, Telford left for London in 1782 with letters of introduction to the two leading architects of the day: Robert Adam and William Chambers. But success eluded him in the metropolis - instead, he found it in Shropshire, thanks to a Borders' contact, Sir William Pulteney, who invited him to work on the reconstruction of Shrewsbury Castle. This led on to his appointment as county surveyor and soon Telford was working on a huge number of public and private properties.

Telford's extraordinary career reached its zenith with the construction of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, begun in 1795 and opened in 1805. Still in use today, carrying the Llangollen Canal, it towers a hundred feet high and a thousand feet long over the valley of the River Dee. Built with simple technology, no safety ropes and no experience of building anything so high, unusual care was paid to protecting the workforce: only one man died during construction (and that death was thought to be due to carelessness). It is seen as Telford's masterpiece and he chose it above all of his creations as the background to his official portrait in the Institution of Civil Engineers.

Reader: Robin Laing

Writer: Julian Glover

Abridger: David Jackson Young

Producer: Kirsteen Cameron.

042017020220170203 (R4)

Julian Glover's new biography of Thomas Telford: a shepherd's son, born in the Scottish Borders in 1757, who revolutionised British engineering and set the stage for the Industrial Revolution.

After the completion of his masterpiece, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in North Wales in 1805, Telford spent the next thirty years of his life involved in a vast range of works up and down the country. These included the construction of over a thousand bridges; twelve hundred miles of good road across tough terrain; forty-three harbours and fishing ports (from Wick to St Katherine's Docks in London); canals throughout England; and the great new road across Wales to the Menai Bridge and Holyhead. In particular, his new roads and bridges revolutionised access to the Scottish Highlands, and in 1819 Telford embarked upon a 'promotional tour' of the north of Scotland in the company of the Poet Laureate Robert Southey.

But the Highlands were also the location of one of the great struggles of Telford's career: the Caledonian Canal (designed to link Inverness on the east coast with Fort William on the west). Begun in 1804, construction was slow, difficult and costs kept rising; it was not completed until 1822 - and Telford did not attend the formal opening ceremony.

Reader: Robin Laing

Writer: Julian Glover

Abridger: David Jackson Young

Producer: Kirsteen Cameron.

Biography of revolutionary engineer Thomas Telford, much of whose work endures to this day

052017020320170204 (R4)

Telford died at the dawn of rail travel, little knowing how long his legacy would endure.

Julian Glover's biography of Thomas Telford: a shepherd's son, born in the Scottish Borders in 1757, who revolutionised British engineering and set the stage for the Industrial Revolution.

Telford built churches, harbours, canals, docks and the famously vertiginous Pontcysyllte aqueduct in Wales. He invented the modern road and created the backbone of Britain's road network. His bridges are some of the most dramatic and beautiful ever built, most of all the Menai Bridge, which spans the dangerous channel between the mainland and Anglesey.

With his death in September 1834, just as the railway age was dawning, Telford had little idea of how lasting his legacy would be: he shaped the lives of the Victorian civil engineers who followed him and almost everything he built is still in use today.

Reader: Robin Laing

Writer: Julian Glover

Abridger: David Jackson Young

Producer: Kirsteen Cameron.