In 1750 Scotland was a land of two parts: the prosperous lowlands and the Gaelic speaking and Clannish Highlands who were still recovering from the aftermath of the Battle of Culloden in 1746.
The landscape made it wild and remote with only a few tracks across the heather clad hills apart from the military roads built by General Wade to rush troops from Fort Augustus or Ruthven Barracks to Fort George. The tracks were well known to the Whisky Smugglers and the drovers who took their animals to market along drove roads to centres such as Crieff and Stirling, but were not easy to use in general.
Along came Thomas Telford who was to change all this during his lifetime. He was born in 1757 in a cottage by the River Esk near Dumfries in the south of Scotland. At 14 he was apprenticed to a
|Dunkeld Telford Bridge|
Craigellachie bridge which was in use until the 1970s. Not content with canal, road and bridge building he also designed and built 32 churches and manses in the Highlands and Islands. There is a good example at Tomintoul although it has been extended. He died in 1834 in London and is buried in Westminster Abbey. One man in his life transformed the lives of fellow Scots by the building of roads, bridges, canals, harbours, churches and manses in Scotland. In this year of History, Heritage and Archaeology it is I think a good time to remember him.