He was always intensely proud of his homeland and was to be in charge of an immense program of reconstruction for the Highlands that included building everything from roads to harbors and even designing churches. He was unquestionably one of Britain's finest engineers, able to take his place alongside giants such as Brunel. He was also a man of culture, even though he had only a rudimentary education. As a mason in his early days he had worked alongside some of the greatest architects of the day, such as William Chambers and Robert Adams, and when he was appointed County Surveyor for Shropshire early in his career, he had the opportunity to practice those skills himself, designing two imposing churches in the county and overseeing the renovation of Shrewsbury Castle. Even as a boy, he had developed a love of literature and throughout his life wrote poetry and became a close friend of the Poet Laureate, Robert Southey. He was a man of many talents, who rose to the very top of his profession but never forgot his roots: he kept his old masons' tools with him to the end of his days.
There are few official monuments to this great man, but he has no need of them: the true monuments are the structures that he left behind that speak of a man who brought about a revolution in transport and civil engineering.
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