Town and Townscape: The Work and Life of Thomas Sharp
Town and Townscape: The Work and Life of Thomas Sharp is a collaborative project between Newcastle University's Library Special Collections and the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape. It has made a major resource on the town planner and writer Thomas Sharp accessible for scholarship for the first time. The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The launch of an exhibition is timed to coincide with an international conference held as part of the project activities, Visual planning and urbanism in the mid-twentieth century, September 13th-15th, 2007.
Thomas Sharp (1901-1978) was a key figure in town planning in the mid-twentieth century. The concepts he developed in his writings and plans have been of enduring significance and influence on thinking about planning and design for both practitioners and academics in the UK and beyond. One of his best known contributions was as a major influence on the development of ideas of townscape.
The mid-twentieth century was a period when public and professional interest in planning was at an all-time high. Sharp was a key figure in defining thinking about the forms that town and countryside should take; in reconciling existing and valued character with modernity, and; in making these arguments accessible. His book Town Planning is the most widely-read ever on the subject and followed earlier influential polemical works. The plans he produced in the 1940s, primarily for historic cities such as Oxford, Exeter and Durham, were also hugely influential.
Sharp used some of his later under-employment in an attempt to further another of his ambitions, as a creative writer. He had written some poetry since his youth but turned more seriously to this about the age of 60. Some of the poetry made its way into print, and some was broadcast by the BBC, but most did not. He wrote two novels and some novellas, all of which remain unpublished. This collection includes correspondence with publishers Carcanet Press and Victor Gollancz Ltd, and with the poet Sir John Betjeman (1906-1984) and also includes Sharp's creative works of poetry, novels, radio plays and so on, largely unpublished.
- Text from the conference brochure by John Pendlebury, Director of Planning at the School of Artchiteture, Planning and Landscape at the University of Newcastle Institute for Policy and Practice, and reproduced here with kind permission. Photograph of Thomas Sharp courtesy of Newcastle University Library Special Collections.
- Town and Townscape: The Work and Life of Thomas Sharp (University of Newcastle, School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape; Newcastle University Library)
- Visual planning and urbanism in the mid-twentieth century: University of Newcastle, September 13-15, 2007
- Thomas Sharp's view of Exeter from the North 20th Century Exeter (Exeter City History website)
- Shelter in the garden of St John's College, Cambridge: design by Sharp and David Wyn Roberts (Royal Institute of British Architects website)
- Royal Institure of British Architects Archives: includes Town Planning archives collection.
- Royal Town Planning Institute
- Newcastle University School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape
- Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
- Global Urban Research Unit (GURU) (University of Newcastle)
- Centre for Urban History (University of Leicester)
- NewcastleGateshead (NewcastleGateshead Initiative website)
- Kielder Water: in 1946 Sharp planned eight villages in Northumberland for the Forestry Commission (Visit Northumberland website)
- City of Durham Tourism (City of Durham website)
- Welwyn Hatfield Tourism & Travel (Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council website)
- Welcome to Exeter (Exeter City Council website)
- Welcome to Salisbury and Stonehenge (Salisbury District Council website)
- Visit Chichester (Chichester District Council website)
- Visit Oxford (Oxford City Council website)
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