Sir John Wolfe Barry KCB FRS (7 December 1836 – 22 January 1918), the youngest son of famous architect Sir Charles Barry, was an English civil engineer of the late 19th and early 20th century. His most famous project is Tower Bridge over the River Thames in London which was constructed between 1886 and 1894. After receiving a knighthood in 1897, he added "Wolfe" to his inherited name in 1898 to become Sir John Wolfe Barry.

John Wolfe Barry
Born7 December 1836
Died22 January 1918(1918-01-22) (aged 81)
Delahaye House, Chelsea, London
EducationGlenalmond College
King's College, London
ParentCharles Barry
Engineering career
InstitutionsInstitution of Civil Engineers (president)
ProjectsTower Bridge, Blackfriars Railway Bridge
Significant designCannon Street Railway Bridge, Kew Bridge, District line

Early career edit

Wolfe Barry was educated at Glenalmond and King's College, London, where he was a pupil of civil engineer Sir John Hawkshaw, as was his business partner Henry Marc Brunel, son of the great Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Barry and Hawkshaw worked on railway bridge crossings across the Thames, among other projects. Brunel pursued his own business from 1871, but in 1878 went into partnership with Barry. Barry began his own practice in 1867, and carried out more work for the railways.

Tower Bridge edit

However, it was Tower Bridge that made Wolfe Barry's name. In 1878, architect Horace Jones first proposed a bascule bridge. An Act of Parliament allowing the Corporation of the City of London to build it was passed in 1885. Jones was appointed architect, and developed an initial scheme for which he was knighted in 1886. Wolfe Barry, already well-established with experience of bridges across the Thames, was introduced as the engineer for the project and with Henry Marc Brunel redesigned the mechanisms resulting in a modified plan. Within a month of construction starting Sir Horace Jones died, leaving Wolfe Barry and Brunel to oversee and complete the works. The bridge was completed in 1894.

Other projects edit

His other projects included:

In 1891, he entered into partnership with his nephew Lt. Col. Arthur John Barry[1] and the partnership's projects included:

Industry standardisation edit

Wolfe Barry caricatured by Spy for Vanity Fair, 1905

Wolfe Barry was a recognised industry leader (he was elected President of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1896,[2] knighted in 1897, and served on several Royal Commissions).

He also played a prominent role in the development of industry standardisation, urging the ICE's Council to form a committee to focus on standards for iron and steel sections. Two members each from the ICE, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the Institution of Naval Architects and the Iron and Steel Institute first met on 26 April 1901. With the Institution of Electrical Engineers who joining the following year, these bodies were the founder institutions of what is today the British Standards Institution or BSI.

Late career edit

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1895 and made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in 1897.[3] He was elected President of the Institution of Civil Engineers (Pres.Inst.C.E.) in 1898, in which year he assumed his middle name of Wolfe as an additional surname. He was also a member of the Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers.[4]

He was chairman of Cable and Wireless from 1900 to 1917. In 1902 he joined the consulting firm of Robert White & Partners, which was renamed Wolfe Barry, Robert White & Partners (later, in 1946, renamed Sir Bruce White, Wolfe Barry and Partners).

Personal life edit

Barry's grave in Brookwood Cemetery

He had married Rosalind Grace, the daughter of Rev Evan Edward Rowsell of Hambledon, Surrey. They had four sons and three daughters. In 1922 a memorial window designed by Sir John Ninian Comper[5] was dedicated to his memory in the nave of Westminster Abbey.[6]

He added the name Wolfe to his forename after receiving an inheritance from his godfather, the architect John Lewis Wolfe (1798–1881).[7]

Wolfe Barry published the results of an investigation into his family's genealogy in 1906.[8]

Wolfe Barry died in January 1918, and was buried in Brookwood Cemetery near Woking in Surrey.

Coat of arms of John Wolfe Barry
Boutez En-Avant [9]

References edit

  1. ^ Institution of Structural Engineers, Consultants tracker Archived 5 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine, s.v. Wolfe Barry
  2. ^ Watson, Garth (1988). The Civils. London: Thomas Telford Ltd. p. 252. ISBN 0-7277-0392-7.
  3. ^ "Library Archive". Royal Society. Retrieved 4 August 2012.
  4. ^ Watson, Garth (1989). The Smeatonians: The Society of Civil Engineers. Thomas Telford. ISBN 0-7277-1526-7.
  5. ^ 'The Abbey Scientists' Hall, A.R. p45: London; Roger & Robert Nicholson; 1966
  6. ^ "Sir Charles and Sir John Wolfe Barry". Dean and Chapter of Westminster. Retrieved 22 August 2013.
  7. ^ David G. Blissett, "Wolfe, John Lewis (1798–1881)" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004. Accessed 28 September 2016
  8. ^ Sir John Wolfe Barry, Notes on Barry Genealogy in England and Wales. Self published, London, 1906
  9. ^ "Goldsmiths Hall, 8 Wolfe-Barry J". Baz Manning. Retrieved 18 December 2020.

External links edit

Professional and academic associations
Preceded by President of the Institution of Civil Engineers
June 1896 – April 1898
Succeeded by