Book cover image: Arpingstone (, size and alignment by Elisa Vernazza,


This website is about the book Building Passions (full title: Brunel, Barry and 'modern' Victorian architecture). It has been created by the book's author and self-publisher Nick von Behr.


If you'd simply like to buy the book go to this page. If you would like to know more about it first, then please read on.


The book is about the shared story of two 19th-century families of engineers and architects who were passionate about building what would become iconic Victorian structures.

One family was the Brunels.

The other family was the Barrys.

The built structures the Brunels and Barrys produced which I cover in the book are mostly still with us (unless shown otherwise) and include:

  • Tower Bridge, London
  • The Houses of Parliament including Big Ben, London
  • Clifton Suspension Bridge, Bristol
  • The Royal Opera House and Floral Hall, London
  • Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children (original building largely replaced except for the unique chapel)
  • Paddington Station, London
  • Rotherhithe Tunnel, London
  • Box Tunnel, Wiltshire
  • Highclere Castle (site of "Downton Abbey") and Cliveden House, Berkshire
  • Trentham Hall, Staffordshire (the building has since disappeared, the gardens remain)
  • The Travellers and Reform Clubs, London
  • Dulwich College, London
  • Bridgewater House, London
  • Bylaugh Hall, Dereham
  • Charing Cross and Cannon Street stations and hotels, London (much has disappeared)
  • Avonmouth, Barry, Hull, Immingham, Limehouse and Surrey Docks (much changed since when they were constructed)

The book also links the Brunels and Barrys to these significant built structures:

  • The Crystal Palace, London (has since disappeared)
  • The Grange, Ramsgate, UK
  • Oriel Chambers, Liverpool, UK
  • The Red House, Beckenham, UK
  • The Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
  • Hotel Tassel, Brussels, Belgium
  • Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE

I have created a separate website dedicated to Sir John Wolfe Barry which covers some key aspects of the book, particularly on the business partnership between Sir John Wolfe Barry and Henry Marc Brunel, and the story of thembuilding Tower Bridge. I also publish blog posts on it with any developments.