Thomas Sharp (town planner)

Last updated

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]

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]

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]

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]

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]

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

Related Research Articles

James Wyatt English architect

James Wyatt was an English architect, a rival of Robert Adam in the neoclassical style and neo-Gothic style.

Patrick Abercrombie English architect

Sir Leslie Patrick Abercrombie was an English town planner. Abercrombie came to prominence in the 1930s and 40s for his urban planning of the cities of Plymouth, Hull, Bath, Edinburgh and Bournemouth, and later for his radical plan to rebuild the post-war City of London.

Richard Poore 13th-century Bishop of Chichester, Bishop of Durham, and Bishop of Salisbury

Richard Poore or Poor was a medieval English Bishop best known for his role in the establishment of Salisbury Cathedral and the City of Salisbury, moved from the nearby fortress of Old Sarum. He served as Bishop of Chichester, Bishop of Salisbury and Bishop of Durham.

George Dance the Elder was a British architect of the 18th century. He was the City of London surveyor and architect from 1735 until his death.

Sir Frederick Ernest Gibberd was an English architect, town planner and landscape designer.

John Wood, the Younger English architect, son of John Wood the elder

John Wood, the Younger was an English architect, working principally in the city of Bath, Somerset. He was the son of the architect John Wood, the Elder. His designs were highly influential during the 18th century and the Royal Crescent is considered to be one of the best examples of Georgian Neo-Classical architecture in Britain.

Ian Douglas Nairn was a British architectural critic who coined the word ‘Subtopia’ to indicate drab suburbs that look identical through unimaginative town-planning. He published two strongly personalised critiques of London and Paris, and collaborated with Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, who considered his reports to be too subjective, but acknowledged him as the better writer.

William Graham Holford, Baron Holford was a British architect and town planner.

Thomas Gordon Cullen was an influential British architect and urban designer who was a key motivator in the Townscape movement. Cullen presented a new theory and methodology for urban visual analysis and design based on the psychology of perception, such as on the human need for visual stimulation and the notions of time and space. He is best known for the book Townscape, first published in 1961. Later editions of Townscape were published under the title The Concise Townscape.

A large number of places in the U.S were named after places in England largely as a result of English settlers and explorers of the Thirteen Colonies.

Architecture of the medieval cathedrals of England Architectural style of cathedrals in England during the middle ages, 1040 to 1540

The medieval cathedrals of England, which date from between approximately 1040 and 1540, are a group of twenty-six buildings that constitute a major aspect of the country’s artistic heritage and are among the most significant material symbols of Christianity. Though diversified in style, they are united by a common function. As cathedrals, each of these buildings serves as central church for an administrative region and houses the throne of a bishop. Each cathedral also serves as a regional centre and a focus of regional pride and affection.

Joseph Clarke was a British Gothic Revival architect who practised in London, England.

Broadfield House, Crawley villa

Broadfield House is a 19th-century villa-style house in the Broadfield neighbourhood of Crawley, a town and borough in West Sussex, England. Built in 1830 on the extensive land of the Tilgate Estate south of the small market town of Crawley, it was extended later in the 19th century and converted into a country club. After World War II, Crawley was designated a New Town and had to prepare for rapid, strictly planned growth. Broadfield House was chosen as the headquarters of the Crawley Development Corporation, and became the base where all the decisions that shaped Crawley's future were made. The house, which is still set in parkland, was refurbished and converted for use by Discovery School in 2011. It has been listed at Grade II by English Heritage for its architectural and historical importance.

T. Lawrence Dale architect

Thomas Lawrence Dale, FRIBA, FSA was an English architect. Until the First World War he concentrated on designing houses for private clients. From the 1930s Dale was the Oxford Diocesan Surveyor and was most noted for designing, restoring, and furnishing Church of England parish churches.

John Hodgson (1779–1845) was an English clergyman and antiquary, known as the county historian of Northumberland.

Thomas Sharp (priest) English churchman and writer, Archdeacon of Northumberland

Thomas Sharp (1693–1758) was an English churchman, known as a biographer and theological writer, archdeacon of Northumberland from 1723.

Crawley Development Corporation

Crawley Development Corporation was set up in February 1947 by the Government of the United Kingdom to establish, administer and control the development of the New Town of Crawley in accordance with the New Towns Act 1946. The Corporation had the task of growing the ancient Sussex market town of Crawley from a population of 9,000 to 40,000 by the early 1960s, expanding its commercial and industrial base and developing a balanced, socially cohesive community. A master plan supplied by planning consultant Anthony Minoprio would guide the Corporation's work. The "energy and enthusiasm" of its chairman Thomas Bennett helped it meet many of its targets early, and it was formally dissolved in 1962. Its assets passed to the Commission for New Towns in that year; they are now owned privately or by the local authority, Crawley Borough Council.

Walter George Bor CBE was an Austrian-born British town planner and architect who was influential in the development of new towns in the UK and elsewhere in the second half of the twentieth century.

Herbert Jackson, known as "Jacko", was a British architect and town planner, active in Birmingham and the Black Country, England, during and after World War II. He worked in the practice of Jackson & Edmonds, and sometimes partnership with Thomas Alwyn Lloyd.

Anthony Minoprio architect and town planner

Sir Charles Anthony Minoprio (1900–1988) was a British architect and town planner. Much of his early work was in partnership with Hugh Spencely (1900–1983), a friend since they attended Harrow School together. Later he worked more as a town planner, particularly the New Town of Crawley.