John Rennie (Engineer)
John Rennie (1761 – 1821) was a Scottish civil engineer. He was the son of an East Lothian farmer, taking an interest in mechanical works at a young age. He matriculated from Edinburgh university which he left in 1783.
After some years designing machinery, in particular using metal components where previously wood had been used, he set up his own business as a mechanical engineer in 1791. At this point, he moved into civil engineering firstly concerned with canals and their associated works.
Creating Rudyard lake
With the opening of the Caldon Canal in 1779, the demand for water was immense. There were several water shortages and for successive summers the system ground to a halt. This caused the Canal Company to search for a site for a new reservoir.
Rennie was the consultant to the Canal Company and Hugh Henshall was to be the Engineer on the project.
Rennie produced the designs for what is now Rudyard Lake as an additional feeder for the Caldon canal. In 1797, after an act of parliament was passed, work began and took 4 years to build, from 1797-1801.
“In 1797, he produced the designs for what is now Rudyard Lake as an additional feeder for the Caldon canal…”
Our video: Constructing the Dam, explains more about how Rennie created the reservoir.
He also worked extensively on the design of docks and improved 44 harbours in Britain. Rennie was a hard worker and made business appointments as early as 5am.
Two of his sons, John and George, were also engineers of note.
He declined a knighthood in 1817 and was buried in St Paul’s Cathedral in London.
Timeline of his life: https://engineeringhalloffame.org/profile/john-rennie
London Bridge: https://www.thehistoryoflondon.co.uk/john-rennies-london-bridge/
John Rennie the Elder Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Rennie_the_Elder