John Rennie’s work on canals, aqueducts, bridges and dockyards mark him as one of the greatest engineers of his age. Even today, 200 years after his death, one cannot travel far in the United Kingdom without encountering something that was of his design or construction, or on which he was consulted for his advice. Rennie’s greatest monuments are his projects, many surviving still.
John Rennie was a man of his time. His lifespan coincided with the Industrial Revolution and his talents were spread over a wider field than many of his contemporaries – as a pioneer of mechanical engineering and steam power as much as the civil engineering feats for which he is, perhaps, better known. In his mature years there was scarcely a major project on which he was not consulted, although he did not seek formal recognition or national honours.
As a community of engineers with a passion for historical engineering and its continuing importance in modern life, the Institution of Civil Engineers’ Archives and Historical Engineering Works Panels have joined with contributors from a wide range of heritage and community organisations to celebrate the life of this remarkable man. This website brings together stories of his life and career together with a map of all of his projects and ideas for places to visit to find out more.
Professor Gordon Masterton OBE DL FREng FRSE FICE – Chair of Panel for Historical Engineering Works. Past President of the Institution of Civil Engineers
Sue Threader BEng (Hons) CEng FICE – Member of ICE Archives Panel