Man of Iron: Thomas Telford and the Building of Britain

Man of Iron: Thomas Telford and the Building of Britain

by Julian Glover


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The enthralling biography of the shepherd boy who changed the world with his revolutionary engineering and whose genius we still benefit from today.

Thomas Telford may have been born into poverty but he became one of Britain's most important engineers, changing the shape of Britain forever; the creations that resulted from his skill, ambition and obsessive hard work span its length and breadth still. For too long, his extraordinary achievements have been overlooked, and his life left unexamined. Julian Glover now brings forward the man behind the name.

There is brilliance and beauty in Thomas Telford's work. With his revolutionary vision, Telford invented the modern road and created the backbone of our national road network, tying England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales together, resulting in his being dubbed 'The Colussus of Roads'. His elegant bridges are the greatest of the pre-twentieth century, the Menai Bridge a wonder of its time and our own while the famous Pontcysyllte aqueduct in Wales with its dramatic and alarming exposed heights is a UNESCO world heritage site and still a huge draw for tourists. Yet Telford was no lone genius and his engineering triumphs were a physical manifestation of a new industrial and imperial power: Great Britain. It was an age of incredible ingenuity and ambition and rivalries ran high. It was a time of great energy and drama – and possibilities.

Drawing on colourful contemporary accounts and travelling by horse to understand better the journeys we undertook before Telford's work transformed them, Julian Glover examines the stories behind Telford's greatest achievements and explores what in that time enabled him to flourish. At once intimate and expansive, this illuminating biography brings to life that most creative of eras and places Telford both at its heart and amongst the ranks of our greatest Britons.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781408837467
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 03/28/2017
Pages: 448
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

Julian Glover is a journalist, speechwriter and special adviser. Previously a columnist for the Guardian, in 2011 he was appointed chief speechwriter to David Cameron before in 2012 being made special adviser in the UK Department for Transport. He is married to The Times columnist and former Conservative MP Matthew Parris.

Table of Contents

Map ix

Introduction xi

Preface xvii

1 The Early Shepherd 1

2 Eskdale Tam 26

3 The Great Mart 41

4 Young Pulteney 63

5 Something Like Bonaparte 85

6 The Stream in the Sky 107

7 The Appearance of Plenty 133

8 My Scotch Surveys 153

9 Telford's Tatar 178

10 From Sea to Sea 193

11 The Enjoyment of Splendid Orders 207

12 A Happy Life 228

13 The Colossus of Roads 251

14 Pontifex Maximus 277

15 24 Abingdon Street 298

16 These Railroad Projectors 320

17 A Blessing on Him 342

Appendix: Selected Works of Thomas Telford 363

Notes 369

Select Bibliography 391

Acknowledgements 400

Index 405

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