In all, Telford attended Salopian Lodge 66 times and
his last recorded attendance is on 4 December, 1792. His
work commitments were probably the reason for him not
continuing in the Lodge, as those that knew him at the time
describe him in the modern idiom as a workaholic. This is
also the reason given why he never married. There is no
record in any of the books in possession of Salopian Lodge
when Telford either resigned or ceased to be a member. At
the rear of the second minute book, dated 1798 to 1827, there
is a list of members, giving the dates of initiation, passing,
raising, joining and resignation. The entry in the resignation
column for Telford is blank. However, it is extremely
unlikely that he was still a member of the Lodge at this time.
There is also no indication in any of the records of Salopian
Lodge as to when or where Telford was initiated, or of
which Lodge he was a member at the time of joining. In
a letter to Andrew Little of Langholm, dated 1 February,
1786 Telford writes:
I am taking a great delight in Freemasonry, and am about to have
a Lodge room at the George Inn fitted up to my own plans, and
under my direction.
No doubt this was the reason for Templeton commenting in
his history that Telford was probably initiated in Portsmouth
around 1785 when he was working on buildings in the
From my research of Phoenix Lodge No. 257, the oldest
extant Lodge in the city, Telford was initiated on 17
December, 1784 in Lodge of Antiquity (then) No. 18,
meeting at the Three Tuns in Portsmouth. This Lodge
was erased in 1838. On 20 May, 1786 he became a founder
member of Phoenix Lodge meeting in the Lodge room
he had constructed at the George Inn.
Telford is remembered for his innovative design of bridges,
roads and canals. Between 1790 and 1795 he constructed no
less than 40 road bridges in Shropshire alone. This period saw
him move away from the architectural career he had planned
for himself to the new profession of civil engineering.
His appointment as engineer and architect to the Ellesmere
Canal Company, formed to connect the rivers Mersey and
Dee with the Severn at Shrewsbury, and his solution to the
two major obstacles in its construction – the valleys of the rivers
Dee and Ceriog. These solutions were the great aqueducts at
Pont Cysyllte and Chirk.
Not yet 40, Telford had secured for himself a national
reputation as the head of his profession as a civil engineer. He
had gathered around him a small select company: Matthew
Davidson, his friend and fellow Master Mason and William
Hazledine, the iron master, a fellow member of Salopian Lodge.
Following the crushing of the Jacobite rebellion at the Battle
of Culloden in 1745 nothing had been done by the central
government in London to assist the Scottish people to move
into the Industrial Revolution. Telford was instructed by the
Treasury to proceed with a survey and report on the subject
of Highland communication. His plans were bold.
In Scotland over one thousand bridges were built, one
thousand miles of road constructed and a water passageway
of some 113 miles through the heart of the country was opened
up to shipping.
of a toll house on
the Holyhead Road
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