Thomas Sharp (town planner)

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Thomas Wilfred Sharp (12 April 1901 – 27 January 1978) was an English town planner and writer on the built environment.



He was born in Bishop Auckland in County Durham, England. He attended the local grammar school and, between 1918 and 1922, spent four years working for the borough surveyor. He then moved to Margate to work on the town's development plan, before working in Canterbury and London where he worked for the planning consultants Thomas Adams and Francis Longstreth Thompson. His next post was as regional planning assistant to the South West Lancashire Regional Advisory Group, but after credit for his lengthy report was given, as was traditional, to the honorary surveyor, he angrily resigned, and was unable to find work for two years. [1]

Bishop Auckland Market town and civil parish in County Durham, England

Bishop Auckland is a market town and civil parish in County Durham in north east England. It is located about 12 miles (19 km) northwest of Darlington, 12 miles (19 km) southwest of Durham and 5 miles (8 km) southeast of Crook at the confluence of the River Wear with its tributary the River Gaunless. According to the 2001 census, Bishop Auckland has a population of 24,392, increasing to 25,455 at the 2016 estimate.

Grammar school type of school in the United Kingdom and some other countries

A grammar school is one of several different types of school in the history of education in the United Kingdom and other English-speaking countries, originally a school teaching Latin, but more recently an academically-oriented secondary school, differentiated in recent years from less academic secondary modern schools.

Margate town in East Kent, England

Margate is a seaside town in Thanet, Kent, South East England, 15 miles (24.1 km) north-east of Canterbury, which includes Cliftonville, Garlinge, Palm Bay and Westbrook.

Sharp used this enforced leisure to write Town and Countryside (1932), which established him as a formidable polemicist. He challenged the popular garden city movement, which sought to unite town and country, by insisting on their separate individual qualities. He finished the book in the family home in County Durham, an area which, with its contrasts between deprived coal mining areas and the fine architecture of the city of Durham, was a lifelong inspiration to him. As a consultant, he advised on the protection of the city from development that would compromise its environmental quality. [1]

Garden city movement city planned in the garden city urban planning movement born in the late 19th century

The garden city movement is a method of urban planning in which self-contained communities are surrounded by "greenbelts", containing proportionate areas of residences, industry, and agriculture. The idea was initiated in 1898 by Sir Ebenezer Howard in the United Kingdom and aims to capture the primary benefits of a countryside environment and a city environment while avoiding the disadvantages presented by both.

Durham, England City in England

Durham is a historic city and the county town of County Durham in North East England. The city lies on the River Wear, to the west of Sunderland, south of Newcastle upon Tyne and to the north of Darlington. Founded over the final resting place of St Cuthbert, its Norman cathedral became a centre of pilgrimage in medieval England. The cathedral and adjacent 11th-century castle were designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1986. The castle has been the home of Durham University since 1832. HM Prison Durham is also located close to the city centre. City of Durham is the name of the civil parish.

Sharp loved the urban architecture of Renaissance and medieval towns. He thought the man-made landscape of England the most beautiful in the world and the English village as the perfection of the village idea. His thoughts in this area were expressed in English Panorama (1936), written after an unplanned move into the University of Durham's architectural department in Newcastle. Here also he edited the Shell Guide to Northumberland and Durham (1937) and produced his celebrated Town Planning (1940), a Pelican Book that sold 250,000 copies. [1]

Middle Ages Period of European history from the 5th to the 15th century

In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages lasted from the 5th to the 15th century. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and merged into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. The Middle Ages is the middle period of the three traditional divisions of Western history: classical antiquity, the medieval period, and the modern period. The medieval period is itself subdivided into the Early, High, and Late Middle Ages.

Durham University collegiate public research university in Durham, England, United Kingdom

Durham University is a collegiate public research university in Durham, North East England, founded by an Act of Parliament in 1832 and incorporated by Royal Charter in 1837. It was one of the first universities to commence tuition in England for more than 600 years, after Oxford and Cambridge, and is one of the institutions to be described as the third-oldest university in England. As a collegiate university its main functions are divided between the academic departments of the university and its 16 colleges. In general, the departments perform research and provide teaching to students, while the colleges are responsible for their domestic arrangements and welfare.

Newcastle upon Tyne City and metropolitan borough in England

Newcastle upon Tyne, commonly known as Newcastle, is a city in Tyne and Wear, North East England, 103 miles (166 km) south of Edinburgh and 277 miles (446 km) north of London on the northern bank of the River Tyne, 8.5 mi (13.7 km) from the North Sea. Newcastle is the most populous city in the North East, and forms the core of the Tyneside conurbation, the eighth most populous urban area in the United Kingdom. Newcastle is a member of the UK Core Cities Group and is a member of the Eurocities network of European cities.

Between 1941 and 1943 he worked in London, as a senior officer in the Ministry of Works and Planning, and made a major contribution to the Scott report which laid the foundations for post-war countryside protection. Sharp later wrote The Anatomy of the Village (1946), which became a classic on the subject of village design. His notions of townscape, then a novel concept, were perfected in his analyses of historic towns and cities – notably Durham, Exeter, Oxford, Salisbury and Chichester – for which he wrote development plans just before and then after the end of the war. After a brief return to Durham to set up the first undergraduate town planning course in the country, he returned to establish his own planning consultancy in Oxford, and was personally disappointed when Durham University failed to appoint him as its first chair of town planning. [1]

Ministry of Works (United Kingdom) former department of the UK government

The Ministry of Works was a department of the UK Government formed in 1940, during World War II, to organise the requisitioning of property for wartime use. After the war, the Ministry retained responsibility for Government building projects.

Sir Leslie Frederic Scott, KC was a Conservative Party politician in the United Kingdom, and later a senior judge.

Cityscape art genre

In the visual arts a cityscape is an artistic representation, such as a painting, drawing, print or photograph, of the physical aspects of a city or urban area. It is the urban equivalent of a landscape. Townscape is roughly synonymous with cityscape, though it implies the same difference in urban size and density implicit in the difference between the words city and town. In urban design the terms refer to the configuration of built forms and interstitial space.

He became president of the Town Planning Institute in 1945–6, and of the Institute of Landscape Architects in 1949–51. He was appointed CBE in 1951. However, as a consultant based in Oxford, Sharp's inability to compromise made work hard to find. He spent much of his time on poems and novels, for the most part unpublished. His last planning book was Town and Townscape (1968). [1]

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) is the principal body representing planning professionals in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It promotes and develops policy affecting planning and the built environment. Founded in 1914, the institute was granted a Royal Charter in 1959. In 2018 it reported that it had over 25,000 members.

The Landscape Institute (LI) is a British professional body for landscape architects. Founded in 1929 as the Institute of Landscape Architects, it was granted a Royal Charter in 1997. The Institute aims to promote landscape architecture, and to regulate the profession with a code of conduct that members must abide by. As of June 2013, it has 6,000 members, 3,300 of whom are chartered.

Order of the British Empire British order of chivalry

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the civil service. It was established on 4 June 1917 by King George V and comprises five classes across both civil and military divisions, the most senior two of which make the recipient either a knight if male or dame if female. There is also the related British Empire Medal, whose recipients are affiliated with, but not members of, the order.

He married Rachel Dorothy Morrison in 1963; they had no children. She survived him following his death in Oxford in 1978, aged 76. [1]

Published works

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