Structural engineering in Victorian London

I’m reading a fascinating book about the use of iron and steel in buildings in Victorian London. One of these structures was Tower Bridge which John Wolfe Barry built with his partner Henry Brunel.

You could argue it was more than just a bridge as the two steel towers were clad in stone to provide sympathetic context with the Tower of London.

This stirred up great architectural debate at the time.

Author Jonathan Clarke of the English Heritage monograph  ‘Early Structural Steel in London Buildings: A discreet revolution’ explains the basis behind these disagreements on aesthetics and use of materials, which you might say characterised the professional divide between traditional architects and futuristic structural engineers at the time.

Hawkshaw and Brunel

I’ve just written another section about John Wolfe Barry’s connections to Sir John Hawkshaw, another eminent Victorian civil engineer, to whom he was apprenticed. Also included is information about his business partnership with Henry Brunel, son of Isambard K Brunel. They would both build Tower Bridge

About this website

The author of this website about Sir John Wolfe Barry is Nick von Behr. I am indebted particularly to research and writing by the late James Sutherland.

I populated this website with content in time for 22 January 2018, the centenary of John Wolfe Barry’s death. 2018 was the official UK Year of Engineering and the bicentenary of the Institution of Civil Engineers and the year structural engineer Roma Agrawal published her amazing book ‘Built’.

Originally I wanted to have some kind of commemoration in Westminster Abbey where a window can be found in his honour and his father is interred. More concretely I’m hoping an English Heritage Blue Plaque will be put up on the house where he died in London, but again this is a slow burner, having applied in December 2015. If it happens in 2019 this would coincide with the 125th anniversary of the opening of Tower Bridge.

I am now writing a book about the 19th-century Brunel and Barry families of architects and civil engineers. See my latest blog posts for how it is progressing.

The founder of the Kitemark

In 1901 Sir John Wolfe Barry was closely associated with the founding of the precursor to the British Standards Institution which would become famous for its Kitemark. I’ve added some new content about this.