The son of a shepherd, Thomas Telford was born on 9 August 1757 at Glendinning in the Parish of Westerkirk. Thomas Telford became an apprentice stonemason locally and worked on the construction of the Langholm Bridge and the new town of Langholm. Telford’s career took him to Edinburgh where he studied architecture and then to London and Shrewsbury. He became known as Britain’s greatest ever civil engineer and in 1820 Thomas Telford was appointed the first President of the recently-formed Institution of Civil Engineers, a post he held until his death.
Thomas Telford was involved in the design and building of roads, bridges, canals, harbours, churches, and public buildings throughout the United Kingdom. He designed the Gotha Canal in Sweden and the Menai Suspension Bridge. Telford carried out a huge body of work in Shropshire and in the Highlands of Scotland.
The town of Telford in Shropshire is named after Thomas Telford and also the borough formerly called Hendrick’s Blacksmith in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. The latter changed its name to Telford in 1857, after the North Pennsylvania Railroad Company named its new station there "Telford" in honour of Thomas Telford.
Thomas Telford died in 1834 and is buried in Westminster Abbey in London. Thomas Telford had a great affection for Eskdale and its people throughout his life and left legacies to the two local libraries at Westerkirk and Langholm
Rennaldburn is listed in Colin Bett's book on the local history of Eskdalemuir as Thomas Telford's first house he built under supervision as a teenager.