Brunel: the man who built modern Britain

From awe-inspiring aqueducts to fast, smooth roads, no building project was, it seems, beyond the genius of Thomas Telford. Julian Glover hails an engineer whose achievements arguably outshine those of Brunel

The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which carries the Llangollen Canal over the valley of the River Dee, near Wrexham, North Wales. The aqueduct was built by Thomas Telford. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)

This article was first published in the February 2017 issue of BBC History Magazine

In 1829, two great engineers from two contrasting centuries clashed over the building of one famous bridge. The conflict pitted Thomas Telford (1757–1834) against Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806–59) – the builder of magnificent canals and roads against the creator of the revolutionary Great Western Railway.

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