1887 - 1958

Leslie Barefoot

Herbert John Leslie Barefoot, was born at Dulwich, Surrey on 15 May 1887, only child of Sidney John Barefoot (14 March 1861-30 January 1946), timber merchant, and his wife Ellen Ann Mary née Towers (1861-1912), who married at Islington, London in 1884. In 1891, living at 20 Thornsett Road, Penge, Surrey with his parents, 30 year old Sidney and 30 year old Ellen, but by 1901 they had moved to 13 Wexford Road, Battersea. Known as Leslie Barefoot, he was educated as Dulwich College 1900-1905 and then trained as an architect. He married at Croydon, Surrey in 1913, Amy Gladys Goddard (1887-1991) and served in the ranks during the First World War with Royal Army Medical Corps in Egyptian Expeditionary Force (1916-1919) and was mentioned in dispatches. Continuing his practice as an architect moving to Ipswich in 1920 with his family and during the inter-war period designed many buildings throughout East Anglia and was the architect of the small central pedestrian shopping street in the centre of Ipswich known as Thoroughfare and The Walk, the latter of which is the site of his blue plaque. A member and exhibitor at the Ipswich Fine Art Club 1928-1933, exhibiting a watercolour in 1927 'New House, Park Road, Ipswich' and a model of the same house. President of the Suffolk Association of Architects 1936-1938 and of the East Anglian Society of Architects in 1938. In 1939 re-joined the army in the Royal Engineers and volunteered to form a new unit to deal with unexploded bombs. In 1940 he was awarded the George Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry for actions not involving direct enemy action, 'for most conspicuous gallantry in carrying out hazardous work in a very brave manner'. He was the first Army officer to receive the award and is commemorated by a plaque in Westminster Abbey together with the other recipients. Leslie was promoted major in 1941 and after the war returned to his architectural practice. He died at his home at 4 Greenways Close, Ipswich on 23 December 1958, aged 71, being survived by his widow, they had three sons including Peter Thomas Barefoot. His medals are currently on display at the Imperial War Museum in London