John Rennie

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Rennie, John (1761–1821). Scots architect and engineer. He made his reputation with the design and installation of machinery at the Albion Flour Mills, Southwark, London (1784—destroyed 1791), and he established his own business in 1791, designing bridges, canals, systems of land-drainage, harbours, light-houses, and docks, all of which are admirable both in their architecture and engineering. They include the Tweed Bridge, Kelso, Roxburghshire (1800–3), the Dundas Aqueduct, Limpley Stoke, Wilts. (c.1795–7), Southwark Bridge, London (1811–19—with one of the world's largest cast-iron arches—demolished 1913), and London Bridge (1824–31—rebuilt at Lake Havasu City, AZ, USA, 1963–71). London Bridge was constructed under the direction of his sons, George (1791–1866) and John (1794–1874). The latter, who was knighted on the completion of the bridge in 1831, designed various works in the Royal Dockyards, including the Royal William Victualling Yard, Stonehouse, near Plymouth, Devon (completed 1832), one of the most impressive architectural ensembles ever constructed in England. J. Britton, in The Original Picture of London, claimed John Rennie jun. was the architect of the Stamford Street Unitarian Chapel, Blackfriars, London (1823), the fine Greek Doric portico of which alone survives. However, Charles Parker (1799–1881) has also been credited with its authorship.


Boucher (1963);
Colvin (1995);
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004);
Reyburn (1972);
Skempton et al. (eds.) (2002);
Smiles (1862);
Summerson (ed.) (1993);
Jane Turner (1996);

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Rennie, John (1761–1821). Millwright and civil engineer from Phantassie (Lothian). Rennie learned millwrighting from Andrew Meikle, but added an academic education at Edinburgh, consulting in Scotland before his first major project, Watt's Albion Mills in London (1784–8). He continued to advise on mills, but became primarily a civil engineer, of canals, the Kennet and Avon (completed 1810) and Rochdale (1804), the first Pennine crossing; bridges (famously Waterloo (1817), Southwark (1819), and London (1831), excelling in the design of the elliptical arch and use of ironwork); Bell Rock lighthouse (1810) and numerous dock and harbour works (London (1805), Holyhead (completed 1824), and the massive breakwater at Plymouth (from 1811) ); and urban water supplies, including Edinburgh, Manchester, and Leeds. Rennie also developed engineering technologies, with iron mill works (1784), the diving bell (at Ramsgate, 1813), and the steam bucket-dredger, critical to his work at Hull (1803–9), and advised the Admiralty to adopt the steam tug, seen in the Comet (1819).

J. A. Chartres

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John Rennie, 1761–1821, British civil engineer. In London he designed the Waterloo (1811–17) and Southwark (1815–19) bridges. London Bridge, also designed by him, was built (1824–31) by his son, Sir John Rennie, 1794–1874, who was knighted on its completion.