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Thomas Telford (clip 1)

A study of the work of the Scottish engineer

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Credits. A bronze head of Telford, then we cut to the Parkhead Bridge with shots of the arches and drivers passing over above. We see various bridges built by Telford - the stone Dean bridge, the iron Craigellachie Bridge, traffic over the Spey. An aerial shot of traffic moving in Stockholm, a Canadian motorway, and a link road near London airport. At the Institute of Civil Engineers building in London, we see the Telford Atlas, an engraving of Telford. Landscape shots of Telford's birthplace. A boy plays at the edge of the river, and we see the bridge at Langholm, a ruined abbey with its arches. We then move to Edinburgh - a distant shot of the castle. We see a montage of architectural features and drawings. After returning briefly to Telford's birthplace, we go to London - there are shots of various buildings and landmarks. We see a map of Portsmouth Dockyard, then illustrations of the port and various designs from Telford's drawing board. A man fishes on the Ellesmere Canal, then we cut to illustrations of the industrial era for the canal. There are then gentle shots of the canal, and the aqueduct as a boat is pushed across. There are shots of the aqueduct.
We return to Scotland and shots of the mountains and landscape, with a hand sketching a road; we see illustration of how Telford built his roads. A man fishes beneath a bridge over the Tay, then we have an illustration of John Gibb. We see more bridges inspired and built by Telford, and a bridge over the Spey as a heavy lorry is directed over it by a policeman. We see a harbour.

Questions & Activities


  • Who was Thomas Telford and why is he famous?
  • Which ancient buildings and monuments are seen in the film?
  • What is an aqueduct and how does it work?
  • What is the difference between an aqueduct and viaduct?
  • What are bridges over motorways called?
  • What is significant about your own town? Is there anything you would change?
  • What are the different kinds of bridges seen in the film?
  • What era did Telford live in? What else was happening at this time?
  • What does '€˜medium'€™ mean in this context?
  • What great civil engineering challenges do we face today?
  • How were these projects financed?


Science and Technology: Design your own bridge.

History: Research Thomas Telford and present your findings to the class.

History: Who were the first people to use arches? How does an arch work?

Technologies: Find out when builders started using iron and how this changed the shape of arches?

Maths / Science and Technology: Construct an aquaduct or viaduct to transport either water or some other product. Take into account angles, gravity etc.

Maths: Create a budget for a construction project and make a list of all the factors you need to include (ie. labour, materials, etc).