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Thomas Telford (clip 2)

A study of the work of the Scottish engineer

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The breakwater at Aberdeen, with shots of working boats in the harbour. Internal shot of the harbour engineers office, with an engraving. A shot of the breakwater and the sheltered harbour at Murray Firth. We head down the Caledonian Canal, and see a map illustrating the plan for the route. There is a cross section illustration of the route showing the position of the locks on the canal. Boats glide along the canal and we see the lock gates at work. There is an illustration of the Napoleonic wars. Men work the lock gates, and we see a shot of a modern yacht before the backdrop of Ben Nevis. Boats work their way through the lock, we see a map showing the completed canal. We move to Sweden with detail of a canal between Gothenburg and Stockholm. We pass the grave of the engineer who built the canal to Telford's plans, see the steelworks and head down the canal. There are shots again of boats working their way through locks and people standing watching. The steamer enters a lake and we see a dismantled helicopter taken along the canal. Back in Scotland, the Tongland Bridge, and an illustration of the Broomielaw bridge, including illustrations of inspections. A caption shows Telford's contribution in terms of what he built, and there is a montage of illustrations and designs. A shot of Wales, waterfalls, and the Menai Straits. We travel along a road and cross the Menai Bridge, below which a boat passes. We travel down a motorway, seeing the road from inside the car, and then from above. We finish on a bronze bust of Telford.

Questions & Activities


  • Who is Thomas Telford and where did he come from?
  • Why were canals important? What is a lock and how does it work?
  • Why was Thomas Telford called the colossus of Rhodes and what was it?
  • How much would the £1 million pounds of the cost of the canal be in today'€™s money?
  • Why was the Caledonia Canal never used as fully as expected?
  • What are the harbours mentioned in the film used for today?


History: Research Thomas Telford and make a presentation using illustrations and clips from this film about what he did and what he built.

Media Studies: List the different types of audio-visual techniques used to build this documentary.

Geography / History: Research the history of canals - why were they built and what were they used for. How are goods transported today.

History / Science and Technology: Research other important engineers that have featued in British history (e.g. Brunel) and present your findings to illustrate how important these ventures were in the past and still are today.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-000-002-313-C
Resource Rights Holder National Library of Scotland
Project Ref 2321
Date 1963
Genre Educational, Documentary
School Subject English, Geography, History, Mathematics, Science, Technologies, Art and Design, Social Studies, Expressive Arts
Who Educational Films of Scotland (sponsor), Park Film Studios (production company), Thomas Telford (subject)
Where Aberdeen, Caledonian Canal, Glasgow, Menai Straights, Murray Firth, Sweden, Tongland Bridge
Attributes Colour, Sound
Clip Length 10:28
Film Length 21:00