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Barbican pioneer Geof is mourned

PUBLISHED: 16:08 26 June 2008 | UPDATED: 11:18 03 July 2010

A GREAT Yarmouth man who was given the prestigious Freedom of the City of London honour, has died aged 72.

Geof Light was given the title for his involvement with the creation of the Barbican Centre.

A GREAT Yarmouth man who was given the prestigious Freedom of the City of London honour, has died aged 72.

Geof Light was given the title for his involvement with the creation of the Barbican Centre.

Mr Light, who was raised in Manby Road, Yarmouth, was an engineering services liaison officer on the arts centre which opened in 1982.

Although he was working for builder the John Laing Partnership at the time, he was seconded onto the City of London Corporation, which owns the Barbican.

The title was given to him upon completion of the Barbican project and he received a certificate in the form of a strip of paper with calligraphy written on it.

The ancient honour, first recorded in 1237, was traditionally bestowed on those associated with livery companies and only those aged 21 or over from British and Commonwealth countries.

However, now the honour has been extended globally and people of any nationality can apply either through nomination, patrimony or association with livery companies. Recipients receive guidance on how to conduct honourable lives and certain rights such as the right to drive sheep and cattle over London Bridge.

Mr Light's daughter Nancy Light, 32, said: “He was very pleased to receive the award. He mentioned it one day to me when he was talking about the Barbican and he said that was why he had received the freedom of the city.”

Born in 1935 to parents Edith and Reginald Light, he attended Yarmouth Technical High School before taking up an engineering scholarship with the Ford Motor Company, which led to him getting the ONC and HNC qualifications in engineering.

These gave him the Technical State Scholarship he needed to attend Nottingham University where he gained a degree in Mechanical Engineering after graduating in 1960.

The father-of-four returned to work for Ford at the company's Halewood factory in Liverpool where he was involved in equipment development, but he was more interested in the building of the factory than the cars.

In 1964, the keen bowls player left Ford to work for the national contractor Trenthams, where he stayed for five years, before moving on to John Laing.

For the next 28 years he stayed with the company and worked on numerous building projects, including the Guinness factory in Bristol and the Abbey National HQ and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London.

His last major project was the British Library at St Pancras for which he received a mention in parliament in 1995 after the scheme was completed. He retired in 1997 to pursue his passion for bowls at Rowley Lane Bowls Club in Borehamwood.

He leaves his wife Maureen, 69 and children Mark, 44, Melanie, 37, Johanna, 35 and Nancy, 32 who all live in the Welwyn Garden City area where he moved to work on the Barbican Centre.

Nancy added: “He always had a joke and a smile for everyone. He was such a good man in so many ways.”

She had received a card from an old friend which described Mr Light's qualities as, “intellectually dealing with matters in everyday life. Humorous in dealing with matters when they took a serious turn to slight the atmosphere. Sympathetic to others in times of stress and tension and above all generous in so many ways to others.”

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