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


The print version of 'Building Passions' is available to order: 'Buy the Book'.

English Heritage is putting up a Blue Plaque today 19 November for Sir John Wolfe Barry at the London house where he died in January 1918, so a little more than a century ago. The address is Delahay House, 15 Chelsea Embankment and the new Blue Plaque will be celebrated at the print book launch tomorrow in Central London.

The image of the month for November is of a world-famous clock ...

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 'Buy the book'. If you would like to know more about it first, then please read on and look at the other pages on the site.


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.

Most of the built structures the Brunels and Barrys produced and which are covered in the book are still with us 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
  • Paddington Station, London
  • Rotherhithe Tunnel, London
  • Box Tunnel, Wiltshire
  • Highclere Castle (location of "Downton Abbey") and Cliveden House, Berkshire
  • The Travellers and Reform Clubs, London

These structures did not (fully) survive:

  • Trentham Hall, Staffordshire (the building has since disappeared, the gardens remain)
  • Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children (original building largely replaced except for the unique chapel)
  • 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