Town and Townscape

Writings about Sharp

As Thomas Sharp was a significant figure in the planning profession in the mid-twentieth century his name appears in the index of virtually any serious planning history of the period. Various references can also be found to him in works relating to such figures as John Betjeman. This short bibliography principally focuses on works with more extended treatments of Sharp or his contribution to planning and some more obscure sources. It is selective in the works included by scholars, such as Peter Larkham, who have written frequently about Sharp. It does not include papers presented at the project conference or various works known to be in the 'pipeline' at the time of writing – in particular for the key international journal of planning history, Planning Perspectives.

Betjeman, J. (1976) 'A preservationist's progress', in Fawcett, J.(ed.), The Future of the Past. London: Thanes & Hudson, pp. 55-64
Only brief mention of Sharp but interesting in ascribing the introduction of the term townscape to him.
Buchanan, C. (1958) Mixed Blessing: The Motor In Britain. London: Leonard Hill.
Short sections on what is regarded as Sharp's distinct approach to relieving central traffic pressures through 'substitute roads'.
Cherry, G. (1974) The Evolution of British Town Planning. Leighton Buzzard: Leonard Hill.
The focus of this volume is the history of the Royal Town Planning Institute. As such the lengthiest discussions Sharp highlight his role in Institute affairs and particularly the 1965 revolt against Council.
Cherry, G. (1983) Thomas Sharp: The Man Who Dared to be Different. University of Newcastle/ RTPI Northern Branch Sharp Memorial Lecture. Newcastle upon Tyne, 10 March.
Text of the second Sharp memorial lecture. Available in the collection THS 57.
Cherry, G. and Penny, L. (1986) Holford: a study in architecture, planning and civic design. London: Mansell.
Some interesting comments and references to Sharp's time in the Ministry working for Holford.
Esher, L. (1981). A Broken Wave: The Rebuilding of England 1940-1980. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Only brief mentions of Sharp but interesting in crediting him (along with Arthur Trystan Edwards and Elizabeth Denby) as being the key promoters in the 1930s of greater urbanity of urban form and specifically for promoting the terraced house.
Gazzard, R. (1969) 'Conversation piece: Dr. Thomas Sharp and the Editor', Northern Architect, (47), pp. 86-89.
Interview with Sharp.
Gibberd, F. (1953) Town Design. London: Architectural Press.
Includes summary of Exeter plan and some other references.
Grenville, J. (2007) 'Conservation as Psychology: Ontological Security and the Built Environment', International Journal for Heritage Studies, 13, (6), pp. 447-461.
Discussion of Sharp's view of the use of history in planning.
Johnson, I., with and Jarvis, B. (2002) 'Is the Perfect Poem a Memorandum or is the Perfect Memorandum a Poem? The Case for a Poetic Voice in Planning in About 3,000 Words', Planning Practice and Research, 17, (3), pp. 245-256.
Brief reference to the importance to Sharp of poetry.
Keeble, L. (1981) Thomas Sharp: an appreciation University of Newcastle/ RTPI Northern Branch Sharp Memorial Lecture. Newcastle upon Tyne.
Text of the first Sharp memorial lecture. Available in the collection THS 57.
Larkham, P. J. (1997) 'Remaking cities: images, control and post-war replanning in the United Kingdom', Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 24, pp. 741-759.
Includes some discussion of Sharp reconstruction plans.
Larkham, P. J. (2003) 'The place of urban conservation in the UK reconstruction plans of 1942-1952', Planning Perspectives, 18, pp. 295-324.
Includes section on Sharp reconstruction plans.
Larkham, P. J. (2004) The Imagery of the UK Post-War Reconstruction Plans. Birmingham: School of Planning & Housing, University of Central England (88).
Includes significant discussion of Sharp and his use of various artists in his reconstruction plans.
Larkham, P. J. (2004) 'Rise of the 'civic centre' in English urban form and design', Urban Design International, 9, pp. 3-15.
Notes Sharp's distinctive approach in his plans this area i.e. he was generally opposed to grouped civic centres.
Larkham, P. J. (2005) 'The cost of planning for reconstruction', Planning History, 27, (1 & 2), pp. 20-26.
Includes data on Sharp's fees drawn from the collection.
Larkham, P. J. (2007) 'Selling the Future City: images in UK post-war reconstruction plans', in Whyte, I. B.(ed.), Man-made future: planning, education and design in mid-twentieth century Britain. London: Routledge.
Includes discussion of Sharp's his use of various artists in his reconstruction plans.
Larkham, P. J. and Lilley, K. D. (2003) 'Plans, planners and city images: place promotion and civic boosterism in British reconstruction planning', Urban History, 30, (2), pp. 183-205.
Includes significant references to Sharp and draws from the collection.
Lilley, K. D. (1999) 'Modern visions of the medieval city: competing conceptions of urbanism in European civic design', Environment and Planning B, 26, pp. 427-446.
Includes interesting analysis of Sharp's changing views between the two editions of English Panorama.
Lycett-Green, C. (ed.) (1995) John Betjeman Letters: Volume Two: 1951 to 1984. London: Metheun.
No letters to Sharp but in letters to others Betjeman praised Sharp's poetry and planning sensibilities.
Matless, D. (1994) 'Doing the English Village, 1945-90: An Essay in Imaginative Geography', in Cloke, P. and Thrift, N.(eds.) Writing the Rural: Five Cultural Geographies, London: Paul Chapman, pp. 7-88.
Includes analysis of Anatomy of the Village.
Matless, D. (1998) Landscape and Englishness. London: Reaktion Books.
Significant discussions of Sharp, including reconstruction plans and village work.
Pendlebury, J. (2003). 'Planning the Historic City: 1940s Reconstruction Plans in Britain', Town Planning Review 74, (4), pp. 371-393.
Discusses Sharp's plans for Durham, Exeter, Oxford and Salisbury.
Pendlebury, J. (2004). 'Reconciling history with modernity: 1940s plans for Durham and Warwick', Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design 31, (3), pp. 331-348.
More in-depth discussion of Durham plan.
Pendlebury, J. (2004) The Reconstruction Planners in Larkham, P.J. and Nasr, J. (eds.) The rebuilding of British cities: exploring the post-Second World War reconstruction Working Paper, Birmingham: School of Planning & Housing, University of Central England.
Includes short description of Sharp's reconstruction planning career.
Sheail, J. (1997) 'Scott revisited: post-war agriculture, planning and the British countryside', Journal of Rural Studies, 13, (4), pp. 387-398.
Brief discussion of Sharp's role in the Scott report.
Stansfield, K. (1981) 'Thomas Sharp 1901-1978', in Cherry, G.(ed.), Pioneers in British Planning. London: The Architectural Press, pp. 150-176.
For many years, the definitive published source on Sharp.
Stansfield, K. (2004) Sharp, Thomas Wilfred (1901-1978) in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Available at:
Short biography in the standard reference work.
Stansfield, K. M. (1974) The Poetry of Planning: A Study of the Life and Work of Dr. Thomas Sharp and his Contribution to the Planning Movement. MA thesis. Manchester.
Dissertation from which chapter in Pioneers in British Planning is derived. The only known academic dissertation focused on Sharp.
Stephenson, G. and edited by Christan De Marco. (1992) On a Human Scale: A Life in City Design. South Freemantle: Freemantle Arts Centre Press.
Stephenson talks about working with Sharp in the Ministry, and held him in high regard.