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Telford, Thomas
Thomas the Rhymer
Thomson, George
Thomson, James
Tweeddale, John Hay
Tyler, James


Heroes & Famous Scots (T)


TELFORD , THOMAS (1757-1834)

Thomas Telford was born and brought up in Westkirk, which is in the town of Dumfries , on the border with England . Telford's name is held in awe even by the modern bridge and road builders of our time. He was a man of vision and design so far in advance of the technology available to him at that time. He was responsible for the building of bridges across the river Severn at Montford, Buildwas, and Bewdley. When Telford 's work was finished in this area in the 1780s, Telford moved on and in the year 1793 began to work for the Ellesmere Canal Company where he built many well known viaducts and bridges.
In the early days of the industrial revolution canals were built to transport raw materials and newly manufactured goods to all parts of the country.

Thomas Telford
William Telford solved what seemed to be the insurmountable problem of taking the Shropshire Union Canal across the narrow, steep-sided Dee valley in North Wales . His answer was the justly famous Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, the longest and highest in Britain . The name, unpronounceable to most English visitors, simply means, " Connecting Bridge ."
This famous Bridge was completed in the year of 1805, one month after the Battle of Trafalgar, the 121-foot high aqueduct is 1007 feet in length, carrying the canal in a completely water tight, cast-iron trough supported by 18 piers. It is a bit of a shock to see barges merrily and magically glide across an expanse of sky high above the valley below and its road to Chirk. There is another Telford masterpiece, close at hand. The Chirk Aqueduct takes the canal across the River Ceiriog.
Telford then left for Scotland , where he was responsible for the Caledonian Canal that opened up the lowlands to industry; the harbour works at Aberdeen , Dundee and other rapidly growing port cities. In his native Scotland , he was responsible for building more than nine-hundred miles of roads and their attendant bridges. He then returned to Wales , managing to engineer the main highway from Shrewsbury and Chester all the way to Holyhead in northwest Wales by carefully selected routes through the mountains that would provide the least gradient.
Telford 's suspension bridge over the River Conwy which was completed in the year of 1826, seems to go right into the Edwardian Castle itself. Its wrought-iron links that suspend the deck have never rusted; Conwy residents say that Telford had the bright idea of dipping the links in oil, which to all accounts was a true fact. During the same year, Telford also completed his crowning masterpiece, but a few miles distant, The Menai Bridge, when built, the longest suspension bridge in the world. It takes the highway across the treacherous Menai Straits to link the Island of Anglesey with the Welsh mainland.
Telford's works can be seen all over Europe: they include a canal in the English midlands, canal tunnels in the north country, the Gota Canal in Sweden; St. Katherine Docks in London and roads that opened up the Scottish Highlands. If any Scot made a difference to countless generations, it surely was Thomas Telford. His work in improving highways and bridges, canals and road made much of the Industrial Revolution possible, for they provided means of transporting, men, machinery, raw materials and finished goods. Thomas Telford was a truly amazing Scottish Builder and designer.
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Though Sir Tristrem was not printed until 1804 by the world famous Scottish author Sir Walter Scott, the author of the old metrical romance is thought to have been Thomas the Rhymer, poet and prophet from Earlston, Berwick, and the reason he is included here is because at that time Berwick was indeed Scotland. The medieval writer did not become known, however, until Sir Walter Scott included "Thomas the Rhymer" in his Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, completed in the year of 1803. In the early fifteenth century, the prophecies of Thomas had appeared in literary form, Romance and Prophecies of Thomas of Erceldoune, which were then edited in the year of 1875 by J.A.H. Murray. The Tristrem or Tristan legend forms a most valuable part of Celtic lore; it is an indispensable part of the Arthurian corpus. Although not as well known or documented as some of the other more famous Scottish writers and poets, Thomas the Rhymer played his part in the literary world of ancient Scotland . He was in some ways looked upon as Scotland's answer to Nostradamus as some of his prophecies were said to have been true.

Thomas the Rhymer
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THOMSON,GEORGE (1757-1851)

With the rapid pace of the industrial revolution in late eighteenth, and early nineteenth centuries, and the Highland clearances still going on, Britain saw a great movement of country folk to the towns and cities, we are extremely fortunate that some people took the time to write down for posterity the wonderful folk melodies and songs that could have disappeared forever, and if they had been lost who's to say what could have been the effect on today's music scene.

One of these collectors was George Thomson who gathered Scottish, Irish and Welsh folk songs. In addition, he worked with some of the leading literary men of his day to supply texts and with notable composers to supply accompaniments. His circle of friends and collaborators included the world famous Scottish poet, Robert Burns (who helped Thomson in his projected Select Scottish Airs in the years of 1793-1841, Sir Walter Scott, Peter Pindar, Joseph Hayden, Ludwig van Beethoven and many others. With so many well know names as friends it was within George Thompson's capabilities to ask for and receive old music and for him to organise and record it for future listeners.
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THOMSON, JAMES (1700-1749)

James Thomson , was born and breed in Ednam, Roxburgh. He made his name in the English literary tradition as a leading poet, and writer. His masterpiece, composed in London , where he worked as a tutor, is the long, blank verse poem in four parts, the first sustained nature poem written in English. The Seasons, including winter in 1726, summer in 1727 spring in 1728, and autumn in 1730, in many ways, foreshadowed the attitudes of the so-called Romantic poets with their interest in nature as a benevolent deity.

Thomson James
Thomson also praised the achievements of England 's rise to commercial and maritime greatness.
The Seasons was revolutionary; it lacked the narrative device of a plot and thus completely broke from the traditions favoured by the Neo-classicists. Giving expression to the achievements of Newtonian science by incorporating his belief that the scientist and the poet are both employed in explaining God's work, as revealed through nature, Thomson used vivid images to show how states of mind could be inspired in the reader. He also used the same device in his To the Memory of Sir Isaac Newton in the year 1727. He was born a Scot but having spent so many years in England was very Englified in his out-look. They were so used to him in England that he is included in their list of English poets, enough said.
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TWEEDDALE, JOHN HAY, 2nd Earl (1625-1697)

John Tweeddale, born and bred in Yester, East Lothian, played various roles in the Civil Wars against King Charles I. Tweeddale sided with the Covenanters at one time, with the Royalists on another and though he played a prominent role in Scottish affairs during the restoration of Charles II. Tweeddale was obviously a confused man and as such could not be trusted. He must also have been a very gullible man as he was taken in by the promises made by the usurper King William III when he was sucked into the disastrous Darien scheme. The insidious scheme was designed by William III, with the intention being to bankrupt the Scottish people and lay them open to bribery when the time came for the Union of the parliaments. This is exactly what happened and the Scottish Nobles fell over their own feet to sell their Scottish soul for a handful of English Gold.

Tweeddale Family Museum
Tweeddale was one of the Nobles who sold out so to call him a great Scot would be an insult to the loyal Scottish people who fought and died for this land and not for fame or fortune but for the fact that freedom means all to the Scots.The picture depicts the building that became part of the Tweeddale family museum in Peebles
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TYLER , JAMES (1747-1804)

James Tyler had been born and bred in Feam, Ross and Cromarty, which is a particularly wild part of the beautiful Highlands of Scotland. Tyler became to be known as "Balloon Tyler" because of his experiments in aeronautics; Tyler became one of the first persons in Britain to attempt a balloon ascent in the year of 1794.

Hot Air Balloon
This was a very dangerous undertaking and you would have to be either very brave or very mad to attempt it. His attempt was not too long after the hazardous experiments of the Montgolfier brothers in France , when their balloon blew up severely hurting people.. Tyler deserves his place on our list, however, because of his work as editor of the Second edition of Encyclopedia Britannica, which he revised almost single-handedly from the original edition. He enlarged the work from three to ten volumes, adding historical and biographical material.
James Tyler became debt ridden and was also forced to emigrate in 1792 for his radical political opinions expressed in a handbill he printed in Edinburgh . He came to Salem , Massachusetts , where he worked as a newspaper publisher. He may have been an eccentric but he contributed greatly to the Scottish peoples love of adventure. The picture is of a modern day hot-air balloon that JamesTyler could only have dreamed about. It is a long way from his concept to this marvelous form of quiet travel.

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© Crann Tara 2006