John Rennie (son)
Sir John Rennie was the second son of engineer John Rennie and brother of George Rennie
George Rennie (engineer)
George Rennie was an engineer born in London, England. He was the son of the Scottish engineer John Rennie and the brother of Sir John Rennie.-Early life:...


Early life

John Rennie was born at 27 Stamford Street, Blackfriars Road, London, on 30 Aug. 1794. He was educated by Dr. Greenlaw at Isleworth
Isleworth is a small town of Saxon origin sited within the London Borough of Hounslow in west London, England. It lies immediately east of the town of Hounslow and west of the River Thames and its tributary the River Crane. Isleworth's original area of settlement, alongside the Thames, is known as...

, and afterwards by Dr. Charles Burney at Greenwich
Greenwich is a district of south London, England, located in the London Borough of Greenwich.Greenwich is best known for its maritime history and for giving its name to the Greenwich Meridian and Greenwich Mean Time...

. He subsequently entered his father's manufactory in Holland Street, Blackfriars Road, where he acquired a practical knowledge of his profession, and in 1813 he was placed under Mr. Hollingsworth, resident engineer of Waterloo Bridge
Waterloo Bridge
Waterloo Bridge is a road and foot traffic bridge crossing the River Thames in London, England between Blackfriars Bridge and Hungerford Bridge. The name of the bridge is in memory of the British victory at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815...

, the foundations of which he personally superintended. In 1815 he assisted his father in the erection of Southwark Bridge
Southwark Bridge
Southwark Bridge is an arch bridge for traffic linking Southwark and the City across the River Thames, in London, England. It was designed by Ernest George and Basil Mott. It was built by Sir William Arrol & Co. and opened in 1921...

, and in 1819 he went abroad for the purpose of studying the great engineering works on the continent.

J. & G. Rennie

On the death of his father in 1821 John remained in partnership with his brother George, the civil engineering portion of the business being carried on by him, whereas the mechanical engineering was supervised by George.

Royal William Victualling Yard

Rennie along with Philip Richards designed Royal William Victualling Yard
Royal William Victualling Yard
The Royal William Victualling Yard, in Stonehouse, a suburb of Plymouth, England, was the major victualling depot of the Royal Navy and an important adjunct of Devonport Dockyard. It was designed by the architect Sir John Rennie and was named after King William IV...

, Plymouth, (1823–33). Covering 14 acres (56,656 m²), this grand classical style ensemble consists of grand gateway surmounted by statue of King William IV
William IV of the United Kingdom
William IV was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of Hanover from 26 June 1830 until his death...

, there is the Slaughterhouse, then around a central dock basin, to the south Melville Square, a warehouse with a central courtyard, it has a clock tower over the main entrance, to the west of the basin is the Bakery
A bakery is an establishment which produces and sells flour-based food baked in an oven such as bread, cakes, pastries and pies. Some retail bakeries are also cafés, serving coffee and tea to customers who wish to consume the baked goods on the premises.-See also:*Baker*Cake...

 with its mill and to the east the Brewery
A brewery is a dedicated building for the making of beer, though beer can be made at home, and has been for much of beer's history. A company which makes beer is called either a brewery or a brewing company....

, with its cooperage
Cooper (profession)
Traditionally, a cooper is someone who makes wooden staved vessels of a conical form, of greater length than breadth, bound together with hoops and possessing flat ends or heads...


Bridges and marine engineering

The most important of John Rennie's undertakings, from 1824, was the construction of London Bridge
London Bridge
London Bridge is a bridge over the River Thames, connecting the City of London and Southwark, in central London. Situated between Cannon Street Railway Bridge and Tower Bridge, it forms the western end of the Pool of London...

, the designs for which had been prepared by his father. The bridge was opened in 1831, when Rennie was knighted, being the first of the profession since Sir Hugh Myddleton
Hugh Myddleton
Sir Hugh Myddelton , 1st Baronet was a Welsh goldsmith, clothmaker, banker, entrepreneur, mine-owner and self-taught engineer...

 to be thus distinguished. He was responsible for the New River Ancholme
River Ancholme
The River Ancholme is a river in North Lincolnshire, England, and a tributary of the Humber estuary.It rises south of Bishopbridge and passes through many Lincolnshire villages and the market town of Brigg before flowing north into the Humber at South Ferriby.North of Bishopbridge, where the River...

 Drainage Scheme in Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire is a county in the east of England. It borders Norfolk to the south east, Cambridgeshire to the south, Rutland to the south west, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire to the west, South Yorkshire to the north west, and the East Riding of Yorkshire to the north. It also borders...

, and Horkstow Bridge, which he designed to cross the river at Horkstow in 1835–6, is one of the earliest suspension bridge
Suspension bridge
A suspension bridge is a type of bridge in which the deck is hung below suspension cables on vertical suspenders. Outside Tibet and Bhutan, where the first examples of this type of bridge were built in the 15th century, this type of bridge dates from the early 19th century...

s to survive and remains substantially as designed. As engineer to the admiralty
The Admiralty was formerly the authority in the Kingdom of England, and later in the United Kingdom, responsible for the command of the Royal Navy...

, a post in which he succeeded his father, he completed various works at Sheerness
Sheerness is a town located beside the mouth of the River Medway on the northwest corner of the Isle of Sheppey in north Kent, England. With a population of 12,000 it is the largest town on the island....

, Woolwich
Woolwich is a district in south London, England, located in the London Borough of Greenwich. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.Woolwich formed part of Kent until 1889 when the County of London was created...

, Plymouth
Plymouth is a city and unitary authority area on the coast of Devon, England, about south-west of London. It is built between the mouths of the rivers Plym to the east and Tamar to the west, where they join Plymouth Sound...

, Ramsgate
Ramsgate is a seaside town in the district of Thanet in east Kent, England. It was one of the great English seaside towns of the 19th century and is a member of the ancient confederation of Cinque Ports. It has a population of around 40,000. Ramsgate's main attraction is its coastline and its main...

, and the great breakwater at Plymouth
Plymouth is a city and unitary authority area on the coast of Devon, England, about south-west of London. It is built between the mouths of the rivers Plym to the east and Tamar to the west, where they join Plymouth Sound...

, of which he published an 'Account' in 1848. Many years of his life were spent in making additions and alterations to various harbours on different parts of the coast, both in England and in Ireland. One example would be his work in the 1850s designing a drydock for Joseph Wheeler
Joseph Wheeler (shipbuilder)
Joseph Wheeler began building and repairing ships in the early 19th century using derricks and slips on the Brickfield slobs off the Strand Road, Cork. By 1829 he had moved to a yard on the Lower Glanmire Road where he built a patent slip...

 at his Rushbrooke
Rushbrooke is an urban area on the western side of Cobh on Great Island in Cork Harbour, Ireland. It is in the townland of Ringacoltig .The townland is Ringacoltig, an anglicised version of the original Irish name....

 yard in Cork
Cork (city)
Cork is the second largest city in the Republic of Ireland and the island of Ireland's third most populous city. It is the principal city and administrative centre of County Cork and the largest city in the province of Munster. Cork has a population of 119,418, while the addition of the suburban...

. He completed the drainage works in the Lincolnshire fens commenced by his father, and, in conjunction with Telford
Thomas Telford
Thomas Telford FRS, FRSE was a Scottish civil engineer, architect and stonemason, and a noted road, bridge and canal builder.-Early career:...

, constructed the Nene
River Nene
The River Nene is a river in the east of England that rises from three sources in the county of Northamptonshire. The tidal river forms the border between Cambridgeshire and Norfolk for about . It is the tenth longest river in the United Kingdom, and is navigable for from Northampton to The...

 outfall near Wisbech
Wisbech is a market town, inland port and civil parish with a population of 20,200 in the Fens of Cambridgeshire. The tidal River Nene runs through the centre of the town and is spanned by two bridges...

 (1826–1831). He also restored the harbour of Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

 in 1827–8, and made various improvements on the Welland
River Welland
The River Welland is a river in the east of England, some long. It rises in the Hothorpe Hills, at Sibbertoft in Northamptonshire, then flows generally northeast to Market Harborough, Stamford and Spalding, to reach The Wash near Fosdyke. For much of its length it forms the county boundary between...


Railway engineering

Although Rennie and his brother were early in the field as a railway engineers, having been involved, with George Stephenson
George Stephenson
George Stephenson was an English civil engineer and mechanical engineer who built the first public railway line in the world to use steam locomotives...

, in the design of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway
Liverpool and Manchester Railway
The Liverpool and Manchester Railway was the world's first inter-city passenger railway in which all the trains were timetabled and were hauled for most of the distance solely by steam locomotives. The line opened on 15 September 1830 and ran between the cities of Liverpool and Manchester in North...

-- their practice in this department was not very large. The company did however supply a number of locomotives for the London and Croydon Railway
London and Croydon Railway
The London and Croydon Railway was an early railway which operated between London and Croydon in England. It was opened in 1839 and in July 1846 it merged with other railways to form a part of the London Brighton and South Coast Railway ....

 in 1838 and 1839. In 1852 John laid out a system of railways for Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

, for which he received the order of Gustavus Vasa, and in 1855 he designed a series of railways and harbours for Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

, none of which were, however, carried out.

Institution of Civil Engineers

Rennie was elected a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers
Institution of Civil Engineers
Founded on 2 January 1818, the Institution of Civil Engineers is an independent professional association, based in central London, representing civil engineering. Like its early membership, the majority of its current members are British engineers, but it also has members in more than 150...

 on 25 June 1844, and he became president on 21 January 1845, retaining the office for three years. His presidential address in 1846 was a complete history of the profession of civil engineering. He also contributed papers on the drainage of the level of Ancholme, Lincolnshire, and on the improvement of the navigation of the Newry
Newry River
Newry River and River Clanrye are names for one of the rivers of Ireland; it passes through the city of Newry and empties into Carlingford Lough near Warrenpoint...

. He published, besides his Account of Plymouth Breakwater, (1848), the Theory, Formation, and Construction of British and Foreign Harbours (1851-4). He was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences or Kungliga Vetenskapsakademien is one of the Royal Academies of Sweden. The Academy is an independent, non-governmental scientific organization which acts to promote the sciences, primarily the natural sciences and mathematics.The Academy was founded on 2...


Retirement and death

Rennie retired from the active duties of his profession about 1862, and died at Bengeo
Bengeo is a parish in Hertfordshire, England. It is referenced in the Domesday Book, where it is called "Belingehou". It is situated on a rise between the River Beane and River Rib overlooking Hartham Common and the rest of the town of Hertford.-Name:...

, near Hertford
Hertford is the county town of Hertfordshire, England, and is also a civil parish in the East Hertfordshire district of the county. Forming a civil parish, the 2001 census put the population of Hertford at about 24,180. Recent estimates are that it is now around 28,000...

, on 3 September 1874, just after completing his eightieth year.
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