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William Jessop (1745-1814), Civil engineer

Sitter in 4 portraits
Noted civil engineer, particularly famed for his work on canals, harbours and early railways. He was taken on in 1759 by the leading civil engineer, John Smeaton, as his pupil in residence. Jessop served as Smeaton's apprentice until 1767 and then as his assistant until 1772 when he set up as an engineer in his own right. He was among the first engineers to appreciate the value of cast iron as a constructional material and he co-founded the Butterley Iron Works in Derbyshire to manufacture, amongst other things, cast-iron edge rails. He pioneered the use of iron railways in situations where canals were uneconomic, building the Surrey iron railway which opened in 1803.