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Can you help this engineer build a map of Telford’s projects?

16 September 2021

An engineer is building a map of all the structures Thomas Telford worked on to make it easy for people to visit and appreciate the great civil engineer’s work.

Can you help this engineer build a map of Telford’s projects?

A Thomas Telford fan is asking members of ICE and the public to help to build a photographic map of all of the projects ICE’s first president worked on.

Alan Harding, a 57-year-old systems engineer in Shropshire, has so far collected details of over 150 projects, but expects to have more than 200 when his project is completed.

“My aim is to bring his legacy to life, make it easy for people to recognise and visit his [Telford’s] many remaining structures, and to understand their relationship with the landscape,” said Harding.

“My ambition is to visit and photograph every one myself. However, a collaboration with photos provided by ICE members and other enthusiasts would be a wonderful thing to do!”

Bringing Telford's legacy to life

Harding said he became fascinated with Thomas Telford when he got involved with canal restoration and became a member of the Shrewsbury and Newport Canals Trust. The trust aims to restore Telford’s first and last canal projects: Shrewsbury Canal opened in 1797, and Newport Canal opened in 1835.

He said: “I have the great fortune to live in a Thomas Telford wharfkeeper’s house on the canal line, so have a daily connection with the great man. His canals and bridges literally changed the landscape, and so many are traversed every day by people unaware of his legacy.

“That is where my idea for a map came in – I thought, why not catalogue his works and make it easy for people to visit and understand them?”

Progress so far

Harding’s map of Telford projects currently contains 160 structures, including bridges, toll houses, aqueducts, churches, harbours and canals.

His favourite project is the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in Wales “for its sheer scale as it spans the Dee Valley, and the calmness you feel as you walk or cruise across it. I cannot imagine having the vision to propose such a vast project”.

How to contribute to the map

Harding hopes to complete his map by Christmas 2021. Anyone able to help can contact him on Twitter.

  • Anh Nguyen, content strategy manager at ICE