Thomas Wilfred Sharp

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Thomas Wilfred Sharp (1901–1978) was an English urban planner and writer. He was born in Bishop Auckland in County Durham, England. He attended the local grammar school and then spent four years working for the borough surveyor. He later became regional planning assistant to the South West Lancashire Regional Advisory Group, but after credit for his vast report was given, as was traditional, to the honorary surveyor, he angrily resigned, and was unable to find work for two years.

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 individuality. He finished the book in the family home in County Durham, an area which was a lifelong inspiration to him.

Sharp 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.

Sharp made a major contribution to the Scott report which laid the foundations for post-war countryside protection. He 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, was perfect in his analyses of historic towns and cities – notably Durham, Exeter, Oxford, Salisbury and Chichester.

Latterly, Sharp was a consultant based in Oxford, but his inability to compromise made employment hard to find. He spent his time on poems and novels, for the most part unpublished. His last planning book was Town and Townscape (1968).

Published works[edit]

  • Town and Countryside: Some Aspects of Urban and Rural Development. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 1932. 
  • English Panorama. London: J.M. Dent & Sons. 1936. 
  • Northumberland and Durham - a Shell Guide. B.T. Batsford. 1937. 
  • Town Planning. Harmondsworth: Pelican Books. 1940. 
  • Cathedral City: A Plan for Durham. London: The Architectural Press. 1944. 
  • Exeter Phoenix: A Plan for Rebuilding. London: The Architectural Press. 1946. 
  • The Anatomy of the Village. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books. 1946. 
  • Oxford Replanned. London: The Architectural Press. 1948. 
  • Georgian City: A plan for the preservation and improvement of Chichester. London: The Architectural Press. 1949. 
  • Newer Sarum: A plan for Salisbury. London: The Architectural Press. 1949. 
  • Town and Townscape. John Murray. 1968. ISBN 0-7195-1799-0.