The recent tribute to Thomas Telford (NCE 11 January) was well deserved, however, I disagree with the opening statement that he 'was the original civil engineer'.
This accolade is surely reserved for John Smeaton FRS (1724-92) who designed and supervised the building of the Eddystone Lighthouse, as well as many other signicant projects. He was also William Jessop's mentor.
Smeaton was said to be the first to adopt the phrase 'civil engineer' and his pre-eminence in this field as the founding father of civil engineering as a profession was recognised by the establishment of the Smeaton Room at the Institution of Civil Engineers.
Chris Watson (M), 1 Sadlers Close, Merrow, Guildford, Surrey GU4 7DA