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Thomas Dadford (Junior) (ca. 1761 to 1801) was an English canal engineer, who came from a family of canal engineers. He worked with his father and later independently, contributing to a number of canal schemes before dying at the relatively young age of 40. His father (Thomas Dadford) was a canal engineer, and his brothers John Dadford and James Dadford also worked in this field.
Thomas received his early training from his father.
On 15 August 1797, he married Ann Parker of Chaddesley Corbett, Worcestershire. Both were adherents to the Catholic faith. The marriage did not last long, as he died on 2 April 1801 at Crickhowell, and was subsequently buried at Llanarth, Monmouthshire.
The couple did not have any children, and his cause of death is not known.
When he died, he had no will, but his wife eventually obtained letters of administration in her favour, and his "goods, chattels and credits" amounted to £2,000.
His father was the engineer for the Stourbridge Canal and Thomas assisted him from 1776. However he was dismissed in the following year.
He assisted his father again in 1782, with a survey of the River Trent, which was to be improved for navigation.
His next project was the construction of the Glamorganshire Canal from 1790, where he worked with his father and with Thomas Sheasby.
He assisted his father and brother John with a survey for the fledgling Neath Canal Company in 1790.
The following year he became the engineer for the Neath & Tennant Canal, and also became surveyor and engineer for the Leominster Canal, a position which he held until 1795, simultaneously with his other projects.
He supervised the construction of the Neath Canal from Neath to Ynysbwllog, where the canal was to cross the River Neath by an aqueduct, but resigned in 1792, before the project was completed, in order to become engineer for the Monmouthshire Brecon & Abergavenny Canal.
He was contracted to devote three-quarters of his time to the canal, the main line of which was completed by 1796, and the remaining quarter enabled him to fulfill his obligation to the Leominster Canal.
In addition to the canal, he supervised construction of five tramways for the canal company, which connected to quarries, ironworks and collieries, and an independent tramway, the Trevil Rail Road.
The Monmouthshire Canal Company also asked him to survey the southern section of the Brecknock and Abergavenny Canal, with a view to finding a high level route which would result in most of the canal being lock-free. This he did and the route was adopted.
He retained his position as engineer to the Monmouthshire Canal until late 1798.
From 1794, he assisted his brother John who was engineer on the Montgomery Canal. He was criticized by that company for his lack of attendance, but still managed to be the contractor for one section in 1795 and 1796, and to inspect and report on the final route with his father in 1797.
From January 1796 he was engineer for the Monmouthshire Brecon & Abergavenny Canal, devoting one quarter of his time to this task, and was still acting in this capacity when he died.
His workload was prodigious, as he managed to fit in surveys for the Ellesmere Canal in 1793, a survey for the extension of the Neath & Tennant Canal from Neath to Giant's Grave in 1798, and a new survey of the proposed route for the Aberdare Canal in 1800, amongst others.
During his brief working life, Thomas Dadford managed to achieve a great deal.
Major structures for which he was responsible include the fourteen locks on the Monmouthshire Canal at Rogerstone, the embankment at Gilwern which enables the Brecon and Abergavenny Canal to cross the River Clydach and a four-arched stone-built aqueduct which carries the same canal over the River Usk at Brynich.
He had less success with tunnels. The Southnet Tunnel on the Leominster Canal collapsed in 1795, resulting in him being criticized by the engineer James Brindley, and the Ashford tunnel on the Brecon and Abergavenny Canal collapsed during construction.