A PROLIFIC civil engineer from East Lothian is among four famous Scots who have been added to the Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame.

John Rennie, who was born at Phantassie, near East Linton, in 1761, was inducted into the prestigious hall of fame on Sunday evening.

Rennie, who was famous for his design of canals, aqueducts, bridges, harbours and dockyards, was one of four considered by The Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland (IESIS).

Sara Thiam, director of ICE (Institution of Civil Engineers) Scotland, was among those praising the contribution of Rennie.

She said: “John Rennie’s prolific work on canals, aqueducts, bridges and dockyards across the UK, including Waterloo, Southwark and London Bridges, Leith and London Docks and the amazing Bell Rock Lighthouse, mark him as one of the greatest engineers of his age and a worthy addition to this elite group.

“Recognising the outstanding engineers of the past helps us to inspire the engineers of today and encourage generations to come.” Rennie’s work on canals, aqueducts, bridges and dockyards mark him as one of the greatest engineers of his age.

He played truant from school to watch Andrew Meikle, the local millwright and inventor of the threshing machine – a 2011 Hall of Fame inductee – and began to work for Meikle when he was 12, while continuing his education.

He studied at Edinburgh University and then worked for Matthew Boulton and James Watt (another 2011 inductee), manufacturer of steam engines.

When he was 29, he moved to London and set up his own engineering business.

His first works were the Lancaster Canal, the Kennet and Avon Canal, the Royal Military Canal, and improving the drainage of the Norfolk fens. He also designed bridges in stone and cast iron with daringly wide arches – like Kelso Bridge, Waterloo Bridge, Southwark Bridge and London Bridge, completed by his son George after his death, as well as the ‘Rennie Bridge’ in Musselburgh.

His docks and harbours included Grimsby, Leith and the London Docks.

But his largest projects were for the Royal Navy as it built the infrastructure for its century of world domination, including Sheerness Dockyard and the great breakwater at Plymouth.

Rennie also gave advice on novel maritime structures such as steam-powered dredgers, diving bells and the Bell Rock lighthouse.

Rennie, who died in 1821, was joined by the Rev Dr Robert Stirling, Robert Napier and Thomas Graham Brown in being inducted into the hall of fame, which is based in Glasgow.

These new inductees add to the story of Scottish engineering’s contribution to civilisation and form part of the now 19 members of the hall of fame.

Collectively, these members tell a story of 250 years of engineering innovation that has led to massive improvements in citizens’ quality of life and benefits to the economy of Scotland and the UK.