James Brindley, British civil engineer and canal builder, c 1760s.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Line and stipple engraving by Conde of Brindley (1716-1772) who invented a water engine for draining a coalmine in 1752. In 1759, after seeing Brindley's design for a silk mill, Francis Egerton, the Duke of Bridgewater, employed him to build the canal between Worsley and Manchester. The Duke was one of the main promoters of Brindley's Grand Trunk Canal linking the Mersey and the Trent acros Cheshire and Staffordshire. After completing the Worsley Canal in 1772, Brindley went on to build the Grand Trunk, Birmingham and Chesterfield canals. Although illiterate all his life, Brindley constructed 365 miles of canals.