Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Book Review: Thomas Telford and the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

 21st October 2019
Book review image

I have walked the Pontcysyllte aqueduct on many occasions without fully recognising its importance socially and historically as a major feat of engineering and stonework construction.

It has been a tremendous learning experience to read this outstanding book by Paul A Lynn and it has broadened my insight regarding the outstanding engineering feats of Thomas Telford. The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct has been described as one of the most stupendous works of engineering and art ever accomplished by man. It is unique in that it has 18 piers and 19 arches which support a cast-iron trough carrying the canal water 126 feet above the river.

The book focuses on the author’s experiences when travelling on the canal and viaduct and the construction of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct which carries the Llangollen canal across the river Dee in the beautifully picturesque Vale of Llangollen.

Thomas Telford and the Pontcysyllte AqueductPaul Lynn has an enthralling style of writing which stimulates and maintains the focus of the reader. Key features of the text are the vivid descriptions of the canal journeys undertaken by the author and his wife, supported by the use of excellent photographs, artist impressions, maps and interesting anecdotes and historical analysis which ‘bring the journeys alive’ for the reader. I particularly enjoyed the author’s reflections as he launched his boat along the aqueduct with the fantastic view over the valley 126 feet below.

The author notes the great skill of the engineers and the stone masons in erecting the pillars. He points out that if you have walked across the aqueduct and felt slightly queasy in spite of the generous handrail or travelled in a narrow boat along the trough and gazed over the 6 inch rim with no rail of any sort, consider the challenge faced by masons and labourers in the construction process: they manipulated stones weighing up to half a ton into place to form the pillars while working from a platform measuring 10 feet by 12 feet, suspended 120 feet above the river!

The text clearly shows that Thomas Telford is probably the greatest civil engineer that Britain has ever produced. The author links the work of Telford historically and socially with ‘Canal Mania’ at its height in the early 1790s. He highlights how engineers and industrialist entrepreneurs worked together to develop a transport infrastructure based on canals as Britain’s great industrial revolution blossomed from 1760.

For example, Telford worked closely with William Hazeldine of Shrewsbury, a master of his trade who developed a skill for manufacturing iron castings. Hazeldine set up a furnace at Plas Kynaston, Cefn-mawr to supply the iron plates for the aqueducts at Chirk and Pontcysyllte.

The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct was completed in 1805 as a key part of the Ellesmere canal. Prior to constructing the revolutionary aqueduct at Pontcysyllte, Telford showed ‘great preparatory work’ at Longdon-on-Tern and Chirk to establish that cast-iron troughs to hold water on top of stonework could work as navigable cast-iron aqueducts. Competition from a growing railway network meeting the needs of industry more effectively, resulted in the planned extension of the Ellesmere Canal never reaching completion.

As a tribute to Telford’s engineering skills, revolutionary ideas and as a leader of a workforce, Unesco granted World Heritage status to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in 2009 as a remarkable example of the construction of a human-engineered waterway. Following this recognition that Pontcysyllte is an outstanding feat of engineering, the aqueduct and the Vale of Llangollen have become popular tourist attractions.

This book by Paul A Lynn is a stimulating source of information, excellent photographs and maps for visitors to the area. I am sure that the book will provide a great opportunity for readers of ‘Love Wrexham’ magazine to learn all about the outstanding work of civil engineering which resulted in the ‘aqueduct in the sky’ at Pontcysyllte.

This book review was kindly provided by John Morris


To the woman who has lost her spark.
To the woman whose get up and go, has well and truly gone.
This is for you.
This is to remind you, that you don’t have to be everything to everyone, every day.
You didn’t sign up for that.
Remember when you used to laugh? Sing?
Throw caution to the wind?
Remember when you used to forgive yourself more quickly for not always being perfect.
You can get that back again.
You really can.
And that doesn’t have to mean letting people down or walking away.
It just means being kinder to you, feeling brave enough to say no sometimes.
Being brave enough to stop sometimes.
And rest.
It starts the moment you realise that you’re not quite who you used to be.
Some of that is good, some of that is not.
There are parts of you that need to be brought back.
And if anyone in your life is not okay with that… they are not your people. Your people will be glad to see that spark starting to light up again.
So, if you have been slowly fading away my friend, this is the time to start saying yes to things that bring you joy and no to things that don’t.
It’s really pretty simple.
Donna Ashworth
Ladies Pass it On. Art by Rita Loyd
May be an illustration

Saturday, 10 April 2021


 Ladies Pass it Ont

“How do we survive without touch?” said a little voice inside my head.
“Well that’s simple,” said another,
“You remember,
What it feels like to dance in a crowd, music loud, hands in the air, transported far away.
You remember,
Sandy toes, salty kisses, sunny days and cleansing waves.
You remember,
Warm hugs that last too long, sticky toddler kisses, greeting friends with arms so wide.
You remember,
Delicious meals served in beautiful surroundings, the laughter never-ending.
You remember,
Smiling at babies on the seat in front of you, waiting to fly to sunnier climes.
You remember,
The life we knew, the life we thought was forever, when we didn’t know it mattered.”
“How do we survive without touch?” said a little voice inside my head.
“Well that’s simple,” said another,
“You remember.”
Art by Igor Shulman
May be art


 Don't walk behind me; I may not lead.

Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow.
Just walk beside me. and be my friend.
ByAlbert Camus
Artist Dee Nickerson

May be a cartoon of one or more people

I want to get lost

 This is lovely, written by a dog friend on Facebook

In the warmth of a sunrise upon my face whilst the moon still sits in the sky at my back.
In the ripples of water turned to liquid gold as the lights dapples and reflects on its surface to shimmer in the reflection of my eyes.
In the midst of a field as a breeze passes by to make the dew dance upon blades of grass. A spectacle of jewels in the morning sun.
In the depth of a forest as the wind sings a melody passing through branches and leaves to accompany the dawn chorus.
In the texture of a two hundred year old oak trees bark and compare it to the wrinkles upon my face.
In the fascination of a spiders web as I watch in awe at its pure genius of engineering withholding the wind in delicate near invisible strands.
In the pages of a book with words that pass before mine eyes to take me to others worlds, other times, other people until I am no longer within my own presence.
Let us all get lost in time, let us all just drift upon the tide of life presented before us. Let us all remind ourselves of who we really are.
I want to get lost, I haven’t been lost for such a long time.

May be an image of twilight, nature and lake

Keep a little bit of you wild, child

That little part of you that seeks out the moon, the sunrise, the waterfalls.
The part of you that craves the freshest of air, the thickest of forests and the giant waves.
It’s important.
For she is directly connected to the core of the earth, the tides and the stars,.
She’s intrinsically linked to all creation, to life itself, to existence.
Don’t let the modern world push her out, she is wild and she is free
and you need her, to be you,
the you you were always meant to be.
Keep a little bit of you wild,
Just a little bit.
Art by Diane Chelaru (@dianachelaru.artist)
May be an illustration