L. T. C. Rolt

L. T. C. Rolt

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L. T. C. Rolt

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Lionel Thomas Caswall Rolt (usually abbreviated to Tom Rolt or L. T. C. Rolt) (11 February 1910 – 9 May 1974his death was recorded in The Times No 59086, 11 May 1974) was a prolific English writer and the biographer of major civil engineering figures including Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Thomas Telford. He is also regarded as one of the pioneers of the leisure cruising industry on Britain's inland waterways, and as an enthusiast for both vintage cars and heritage railways.


Tom Rolt was born in Chester to a line of Rolts "dedicated to hunting and procreation". His father Lionel had settled back in England in Hay-on-Wye after working on a cattle ranch in Australia, a plantation in India and joining (unsuccessfully) in the Yukon gold rush of 1898. However he lost most of his money in 1920 after investing his capital in a company which failed and the family moved to a pair of stone cottages in Stanley Pontlarge in Gloucestershire.

Tom studied at Cheltenham College and at 16 took a job learning about steam traction before starting an apprenticeship at the Kerr Stuart locomotive works in Stoke-on-Trent, where his uncle, Kyrle Willans was chief development engineer. His uncle bought a wooden narrow fly horse boat called Cressy and installed first a steam engine and then (having discovered the steam made steering through tunnels impossible) a Ford Model T engine. This...
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