By Julian Glover
The mesmerizing biography of the shepherd boy who replaced the area along with his innovative engineering and whose genius we nonetheless reap the benefits of today.
Thomas Telford could have been born into poverty yet he grew to become one among Britain's most vital engineers, altering the form of england ceaselessly; the creations that resulted from his ability, ambition and obsessive exertions span its size and breadth nonetheless. For too lengthy, his remarkable achievements were missed, and his existence left unexamined. Julian Glover now brings ahead the fellow in the back of the name.
There is brilliance and wonder in Thomas Telford's paintings. together with his innovative imaginative and prescient, Telford invented the fashionable street and created the spine of our nationwide highway community, tying England, Scotland, eire and Wales jointly, leading to his being dubbed 'The Colussus of Roads'. His dependent bridges are the best of the pre-twentieth century, the Menai Bridge a ask yourself of its time and our personal whereas the recognized Pontcysyllte aqueduct in Wales with its dramatic and alarming uncovered heights is a UNESCO international background web site and nonetheless an enormous draw for travelers. but Telford was once no lone genius and his engineering triumphs have been a actual manifestation of a brand new commercial and imperial energy: nice Britain. It used to be an age of outstanding ingenuity and ambition and rivalries ran excessive. It used to be a time of serious strength and drama – and possibilities.
Drawing on vibrant modern debts and traveling through horse to appreciate greater the trips we undertook earlier than Telford's paintings remodeled them, Julian Glover examines the tales in the back of Telford's maximum achievements and explores what in that point enabled him to flourish. instantly intimate and expansive, this illuminating biography brings to existence that the majority artistic of eras and areas Telford either at its middle and among the ranks of our best Britons.
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Additional info for Man of Iron: Thomas Telford and the Building of Britain
Telford’s journey had begun. 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. Everything was in flux: ideas, technologies, identities. Vulgar fortunes; foreign flavours; atheistic thoughts; terraced streets; London; novels; newspapers; MPs; city dealers; the Royal Navy; turnpike roads; iron, canals, coal and steam – all of these and more came together to fuel the new belching, swaggering Great Britain.
He certainly had luck and it helped him: the luck to be born just as Great Britain was making itself; the luck to draw on industry, empire and rich men wanting to invest in technologies and a growing government ready to back them; and most of all the luck to have been born in a remote part of Scotland which nonetheless gave him enough education, and enough companionship from others of similar energy to his own, to go out and change Britain. But there was more to it than luck. The man was as curious as the things he created.
There was great – probably growing – inequality as national wealth outstripped wages: the problem of capital which challenges economists now challenged workers then, too. There was no certainty about social mobility and economic historians suggest society was less, not more fluid than today, even if rapid urbanisation created the chance of disruption. There was a strong, if repeatedly defied, recognition of social hierarchy, and the Capability Brown lifestyle was much desired by those with good ancestry or new money.