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GREATER LONDON INDUSTRIAL ARCHAEOLOGY SOCIETY

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Book reviews — December 2011

‘The Canal Pioneers: Brindley’s School Of Engineers’, by Christopher Lewis
Published by The History Press, 28 November 2011, £14.99 paperback. ISBN: 978-0-7524-6166-3. Web: www.thehistorypress.co.uk
James Brindley was the pioneer of the practical age of canal construction in 18th-century Britain. Unlike John Smeaton, Brindley was untutored, and began his work as an apprentice millwright. However, it was Brindley who developed and laid down the principles of early canal construction. The surveying and building of what was the beginning of a national system of canals was too great for one man. Brindley’s vision and organisational ability was evident when he created, what Cyril Boucher has called a ‘A School of Engineers’, to reflect his designs, draw detailed maps, survey territory under his direction and build the canals he was commissioned to construct.

Hugh Henshall, Samuel Simcock, Robert Whitworth, Josiah Clowes, Thomas Dadford, Samuel Weston were talented colleagues, friends and relatives who belonged to the Brindley school of engineering. Within this school, Brindley instructed and trained these men to his own high standards in canal construction. Many of these engineers went on to extend Brindley’s original system, based on his Great Cross of waterways, as the country came to realise the enormous benefits that canals conferred in the transportation of heavy goods and materials.


© GLIAS, 2011