George Rennie (engineer)
George Rennie was an engineer
An engineer is a professional practitioner of engineering, concerned with applying scientific knowledge, mathematics and ingenuity to develop solutions for technical problems. Engineers design materials, structures, machines and systems while considering the limitations imposed by practicality,...

 born in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

. He was the son of the Scottish
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 engineer John Rennie and the brother of Sir John Rennie.

Early life

Born in the parish of Christchurch, Blackfriars Road
Blackfriars Road
Blackfriars Road is a road in Southwark, SE1. It runs between St George's Circus at the southern end and Blackfriars Bridge over the River Thames at the northern end, leading to the City of London. Halfway up on the west side is Southwark tube station, on the corner with The Cut...

, Southwark
Southwark is a district of south London, England, and the administrative headquarters of the London Borough of Southwark. Situated east of Charing Cross, it forms one of the oldest parts of London and fronts the River Thames to the north...

, London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, on 3 December 1791, 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 was subsequently sent to St. Paul's School and to the University of Edinburgh
University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh, founded in 1583, is a public research university located in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The university is deeply embedded in the fabric of the city, with many of the buildings in the historic Old Town belonging to the university...

. In 1811 he entered his father's office, where many great works were in progress. In 1818, on the recommendation of Sir Joseph Banks
Joseph Banks
Sir Joseph Banks, 1st Baronet, GCB, PRS was an English naturalist, botanist and patron of the natural sciences. He took part in Captain James Cook's first great voyage . Banks is credited with the introduction to the Western world of eucalyptus, acacia, mimosa and the genus named after him,...

 and James Watt
James Watt
James Watt, FRS, FRSE was a Scottish inventor and mechanical engineer whose improvements to the Newcomen steam engine were fundamental to the changes brought by the Industrial Revolution in both his native Great Britain and the rest of the world.While working as an instrument maker at the...

, he was appointed inspector of machinery and clerk of the irons (i.e. dies
Die (manufacturing)
A die is a specialized tool used in manufacturing industries to cut or shape material using a press. Like molds, dies are generally customized to the item they are used to create...

) at the Royal Mint
Royal Mint
The Royal Mint is the body permitted to manufacture, or mint, coins in the United Kingdom. The Mint originated over 1,100 years ago, but since 2009 it operates as Royal Mint Ltd, a company which has an exclusive contract with HM Treasury to supply all coinage for the UK...

, which post he held for nearly eight years.

J. & G. Rennie

On the death of his father in 1821 he entered into partnership with his younger brother John, and for many years they were engaged in completing the vast undertakings originated by the elder Rennie. John concentrated on the civil engineering portion of the business, whereas George supervised the mechanical engineering. Nevertheless, about 1826 he was entrusted with the construction of the Grosvenor Bridge (Chester)
Grosvenor Bridge (Chester)
The Grosvenor Bridge is a single-span arch road bridge constructed from stone. It crosses the River Dee at Chester in England. The bridge is located on the A483 Grosvenor Road . Views upriver from the bridge include Chester Castle and Handbridge. The view downstream from the bridge encompasses the...

 over the Dee
River Dee, Wales
The River Dee is a long river in the United Kingdom. It travels through Wales and England and also forms part of the border between the two countries....

 at Chester
Chester is a city in Cheshire, England. Lying on the River Dee, close to the border with Wales, it is home to 77,040 inhabitants, and is the largest and most populous settlement of the wider unitary authority area of Cheshire West and Chester, which had a population of 328,100 according to the...

, from the designs of Harrison
Thomas Harrison (architect)
Thomas Harrison was an English architect and engineer. He built a number of bridges, including Grosvenor Bridge in Chester. He also rebuilt parts of Chester and Lancaster castles...


In 1830, they were involved in the construction of 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...

's 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...

. He had considerable practice as a railway engineer, and made plans for lines to connect Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

 and Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

, the Vale of Clwyd
Vale of Clwyd
The Vale of Clwyd is a tract of low-lying ground in the county of Denbighshire in northeast Wales. The Vale extends south-southwestwards from the coast of the Irish Sea for some 20 miles forming a triangle of low ground bounded on its eastern side by the well-defined scarp of the Clwydian Range...

 line, the railway from Mons
Mons is a Walloon city and municipality located in the Belgian province of Hainaut, of which it is the capital. The Mons municipality includes the old communes of Cuesmes, Flénu, Ghlin, Hyon, Nimy, Obourg, Baudour , Jemappes, Ciply, Harmignies, Harveng, Havré, Maisières, Mesvin, Nouvelles,...

 to Manege
Manège is the French word for a riding academy. As a loanword in Russian it is Manezh .It may refer to any riding school, riding arena or exercise rectangle, or specifically to:* the Salle du Manège in Paris, France...

, and the Namur and Liege railway, of which he was appointed chief engineer in 1846.

Mechanical engineering

George Rennie's genius was chiefly mechanical, and he superintended the manufacturing business of the firm in Holland Street, where a great variety of machinery was turned out, including the first biscuit-making machinery, corn and chocolate mills for Deptford victualling yard, and the machinery at the Royal William Victualling Yard, Plymouth. They also coonstructed some 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 ....

. Many orders for foreign governments were executed, and the firm were employed by 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...

 in making engines for the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

. He was much interested in the screw-propeller, and his firm built the engines for , the world's first propeller-driven steamship. Subsequently, in 1840, the firm built for the Admiralty the Dwarf, the first vessel in the British navy propelled by a screw.

Roe (1916) discusses Rennie's contributions to the development of the planer
Planer (metalworking)
A planer is a type of metalworking machine tool that uses linear relative motion between the workpiece and a single-point cutting tool to machine a linear toolpath. Its cut is analogous to that of a lathe, except that it is linear instead of helical...


In 1822 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society, and contributed papers to the Transactions in 1829 on the friction
Friction is the force resisting the relative motion of solid surfaces, fluid layers, and/or material elements sliding against each other. There are several types of friction:...

 of metals and other substances. He also presented papers to the British Association and to 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...

, of which body he was elected a member in 1841.


He died on 30 March 1866, at his house, 39 Wilton Crescent
Wilton Crescent
Wilton Crescent is a wealthy community in Belgravia, London.Wilton Crescent was created by Thomas Cundy II, the Grosvenor family Estate surveyor and was drawn up with the original 1821 Wyatt plan for Belgravia...

, from the effects of an accident in the street in the previous year, and was buried on 6 April at Holmwood
Holmwood is a civil parish in Surrey, England. The parish has a population of 850.Holmwood forms part of Mole Valley Borough Council's area; the main settlements are North Holmwood and South Holmwood both of which are bypassed by the A24 road. The smaller settlement of Mid Holmwood is alongside the...

, near Dorking
Dorking is a historic market town at the foot of the North Downs approximately south of London, in Surrey, England.- History and development :...

. He married, in 1828, Margaret Anne, daughter of Sir John Jackson, 1st Baronet, M.P., who survived him; they had two sons and one daughter.
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