The Brothers Barry

When I first started scoping out a history of John Wolfe Barry many years back I was planning to focus on the collective story of him and his three elder brothers.

Things changed and my research was more productive in terms of John’s connections with his father Sir Charles Barry and Henry Brunel. That’s not to say that Alfred Barry, Charles Barry Junior and Edward Middleton Barry don’t deserve some content on this website.

Charles Barry Junior was the eldest son and continued in his father’s architectural footsteps, most famously taking over as Surveyor of Dulwich College and its associated estate and from 1866-70 building a splendid new school faced in terracotta stone. Charles became President of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1876 and was awarded its Royal Gold Medal a year later. When his brother John became ICE President at the end of the 1890s, Charles designed and built an new home for that sister Institution. Sadly it was soon demolished to make way for the new Treasury Buildings along Great George Street, Westminster. With his other brother Edward he designed the Great Eastern Hotel and Liverpool Street railway station.

Edward Middleton Barry was the third son of Sir Charles Barry and an architect like his father and elder brother. Edward would assist his father in building and then completing after his death the New Palace of Westminster. But he was also the architect of the Royal Opera House and Floral Hall at Covent Garden in London. As mentioned elsewhere he designed and constructed the two hotels at Charing Cross and Cannon Street railway stations, only one of which remains. Finally, he built the original Hospital for Sick Children at Great Ormond Street which has since been demolished.

Alfred Barry was the second son and unlike his siblings turned his back completely on the built environment instead choosing to become a minister of the church, a headteacher and university administrator. Ultimately he would write a major biography of his father as well as edit one of his brothers’ architectural lectures, and served as Bishop of Sydney and Canon of St George’s Chapel, Windsor.

Founding the National Physical Laboratory (next section)