The bridge at Buildwas was Telford's first iron bridge.
He was influenced by Abraham Darby's bridge at Ironbridge, and observed that it was grossly over-designed for its function, and many of the component parts were poorly cast.
By contrast, his bridge was 30 ft (10 m) wider in span and half the weight, although it now no longer exists.
Two years later he found work at Portsmouth dockyard and — although still largely self-taught — was extending his talents to the specification, design and management of building projects.
In 1787, through his wealthy patron William Pulteney, he became Surveyor of Public Works in Shropshire.
Civil engineering was a discipline still in its infancy, so Telford was set on establishing himself as an architect.
His projects included renovation of Shrewsbury Castle, the town's prison (during the planning of which he met leading prison reformer John Howard), the Church of St.
Mary Magdalene, Bridgnorth and another church, St Michael, in Madeley.
Called in to advise on a leaking roof at St Chad's Church Shrewsbury in 1788, he warned the church was in imminent danger of collapse; his reputation was made locally when it collapsed 3 days later, but he was not the architect for its replacement.As the Shropshire county surveyor, Telford was also responsible for bridges.In 1790 he designed a bridge carrying the London-Holyhead road over the River Severn at Montford, the first of some 40 bridges he built in Shropshire, including major crossings of the Severn at Buildwas, and Bridgnorth.Thomas Telford FRS, FRSE (9 August 1757 – 2 September 1834) was a Scottish civil engineer, architect and stonemason, and a noted road, bridge and canal builder.After establishing himself as an engineer of road and canal projects in Shropshire, he designed numerous infrastructure projects in his native Scotland, as well as harbours and tunnels.Such was his reputation as a prolific designer of highways and related bridges, he was dubbed The Colossus of Roads (a pun on the Colossus of Rhodes), and, reflecting his command of all types of civil engineering in the early 19th century, he was elected as the first President of the Institution of Civil Engineers, a post he retained for 14 years until his death.