The author of this website about Sir John Wolfe Barry was Nick von Behr. I am indebted particularly to research and writing by the late James Sutherland. There is a more recent website about Wolfe Barry, Tower Bridge and other structures.
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, an English Heritage Blue Plaque was put up on the house where he died in London. This was a slow burner, having applied in December 2015, but it finally happened in 2019 coinciding with the 125th anniversary of the opening of Tower Bridge.
I have written a book called ‘Building Passions‘ about the 19th-century Brunel and Barry families of architects and civil engineers. Much of the material derives from this website and the research behind it.
Sir John Wolfe Barry’s engineering consultancy would eventually through various mergers become part of a larger organisation which built the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the world’s tallest skyscraper.
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.
John Wolfe Barry was born the son of Sir Charles Barry, architect of the British Houses of Parliament or the New Palace of Westminster.
For more on how the Old Palace was rebuilt after a terrible fire in the early 19th Century see Caroline Shenton’s website. The story features Augustus Pugin as well as Big Ben.
This website tells the story of Sir John Wolfe Barry.
Who was he?
He was the civil engineer who built Tower Bridge. He doesn’t get as much credit for this as he perhaps deserves. So the purpose of the site was to tell his story to mark the centenary of his death on 22 January 2018. Content has been added since then mainly via the blogs (see below) but also in anticipation of the 125th anniversary celebrations of Tower Bridge’s first opening on 30 June 2019. The author is also publishing a book on Sir John, his partner Henry Brunel, and their (grand)fathers and brothers due to come out by end September 2019.
The site is split into blog posts and content pages which connect with each other and external links.
If you want quick snapshots then read the blog posts – use the category cloud to help you find things you are interested in e.g. Tower Bridge.
If you want to read the story of JWB (as I call him) then use the top menu for sections of content which all link to each other in the same order.