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ICE Wales celebrates Telford's innovative Pontcysyllte aqueduct

ICE Wales Cymru last week commemorated the achievements of the extraordinary engineering team behind the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Llangollen Canal.

A new commemorative panel was presented by the Institution to the Canal & River Trust to celebrate the contributions of the ICE’s first President, Thomas Telford, and his colleagues William Hazledine and William Jessop, to the iconic structure.

Telford was responsible for the innovative construction of Pontcysyllte Aqueduct where a continuous cast iron trough was fabricated on top of stone pillars to carry the canal and towpath 38.2m above the River Dee.
Jessop was apprenticed to John Smeaton, known as “the Father of Civil Engineering”. He became an experienced and respected engineer of canals, rivers and drainage systems. Jessop’s role at Pontcysyllte was to consider, correct and approve Telford’s plans and recommendations.

Hazledine, referred to by Telford as “The arch-conjurer himself” was responsible for the fabrication of the iron for Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, transporting it to site and building its 305m long trough. He was also responsible for supplying the ironwork for a number of Telford’s bridges throughout the country.

Professor Barry Clarke, ICE President, said it was a “great personal pleasure” to see such an iconic structure stand as a monument to Telford and his associates William Hazledine and William Jessop.

He added: “The plaque presented celebrates the contribution of all three of these great pioneers, and their associates, to the planning, design and construction of this magnificent structure. It is a testament to their imagination, expertise and quality of execution that the canal and its aqueducts still form a key element of our infrastructure today. It thus provides an excellent example of the sustainable construction which the Institution has highlighted in recent years and current members aim to achieve in all areas of construction.”

ICE Wales chairman Geoff Ogden added: “The plaque is part of a programme to celebrate civil engineering in Wales. In the past eight years ICE Wales Cymru has placed 29 plaques and information panels throughout Wales marking important historical engineering sites and commemorating famous engineers such as Trevithick, Brunel and Telford.”

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