Thomas Telford, FRS, FRSE (1757-1834) was the first President of the Institution of Civil Engineers and the most pre-eminent civil engineer of his day when he was invited to become so. In an outstanding career spanning over sixty years, he was responsible for the design and construction of innumerable buildings and works that defined the role of the civil engineer: canals, roads, bridges of all types, drainage, docks and harbours and water supply schemes.
His influence was crucial in the early development of ICE and at his death he donated to it his books, drawings and papers. The latter form the Telford Collection in the Archives and the drawings were reproduced in the Atlas to his Life, the biography of him written by Rickman and published in 1838.
The images in the database include his favourite portrait of himself (by Samuel Lane), along with the painting by Arnold of his bridge at the Menai Straits, a structure that made his international reputation and that remains in use today.
This is true also for several of his other works illustrated here, in elevation, plan and sometimes section - the Caledonian Canal, St Katherine's Dock, numerous roads and bridges.
One of the most interesting is the drawing of road making. It is a structure that modern engineers might recognise but Telford was among the pioneers in the eighteenth century who radically improved the form.