Skip to main content

The Friday Five 03.03.23

Published on: 3 Mar 2023

It's the Friday Five, our weekly round-up of planning jobs and place-related facts. This week, top jobs with Active Travel England and Birmingham city Council, among others; and the origins of tennis and the tale of the notorious Clink Prison. Read on...


Location: Coventry, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester or Newcastle

The job: “Working in a team with the director of land, the head of town planning will play a critical role in leading the planning function and acting as the agency’s head of profession. You will be joining the land team within technical services and leading a small but enthusiastic, highly skilled and experienced team who are committed to making positive change acting both strategically and supporting local project delivery.

“This is a rare chance to shape the future in a fast growing, national organisation with real social purpose. Working with key stakeholders and a professional team you will act as the Head of the planning profession, be a key player in the relationship with the DLUHC planning directorate, build capacity for community engagement and lead the implementation of a social value model in our projects.

“The role will support the development directorate design and delivery of key strategic projects. There are some exciting projects and initiatives to get involved with and this is an excellent opportunity to balance day to day delivery whilst bringing forward innovative planning solutions and learning opportunities.”

Elephant armour [square]Fun fact: How do you protect an elephant that’s going into battle (bear with me here – in the days before mechanically powered vehicles, they would have been formidable ‘tanks’ on the battlefield)? With elephant armour, of course. And the Royal Armouries in Leeds has an exceedingly rare example of a suit of mail and plate armour from late 18th-century India.

Now, we’re not going to get into the ins and outs of colonialism (bad) or the use of animals in warfare (also bad), but the armour found its way to Britain through Lady Henrietta Clive, wife of the then governor of Madras, the 2nd Lord Clive (not Lord Clive of ‘Clive of India’ fame; his son). Henrietta was a rather interesting figure, who became a noted collector of minerals, a botanist and writer. Indeed, her journals form one of the first written accounts of India by a British woman and played a vital role in the emergence of female travel writers. But we digress.

The elephant armour is the only surviving, near-complete suit of Meghal era armour in a public collection. It contains around 5,840 plates and weighs a mammoth (haha!) 118 kilogrammes. Little is known of its origins, except that it was probably made in the 1600s. The museum also houses a pair of elephant tusk swords, also brought back from India by Lady Clive; these are swords that could be sheathed on an elephant’s tusks. The elephant would then be used to charge the enemy…

Shameless plug time: There’s something else happening at Leeds Royal Armoury. 23 March is Planner Live North and – guess what? – your faithful Friday Five author is going to be there to present a session on storytelling for planners. You can book a place here.

Find out more and apply


Location: York, North Yorkshire

The job: “There has never been a more exciting time to be working in active travel, and Active Travel England is at the forefront of this high-profile agenda. ATE will help deliver the government’s ambitious vision for half of all journeys in England’s towns and cities to be walked or cycled by 2030. The plan commits to ensure cycling and walking provision is at the heart of local plan making and decision taking. Joining the team now represents a genuine opportunity to shape transport policy in a time when other wider considerations like decarbonisation and economic growth are central government priorities.

“We are looking for planning casework officers to join the development management casework team. The planning casework officers will be an essential part of Active Travel England, driving forward the assessment of planning applications and producing high quality outputs which are consistent with Active Travel England’s spatial planning policy priorities.

“You will need a good understanding of planning for active travel, with experience of working in a position in either the private, public or third sectors that requires knowledge of planning, highways and sustainable transport policy and practice. With a good understanding of equality and diversity in scheme design, you will have good technical, communication and stakeholder engagement skills.”

Whip-ma-whop-ma-gate [square]Fun fact: Whip-ma-whop-ma-gate. You know, that street in York. The very short one. With the ridiculously long name. It even has a plaque making the point that that it’s the shortest street in York. If it can even be called a street: basically, it’s an alley connecting Colliergate with Shambles.

The name was first recorded in 1505 as ‘Whitnourwhatnourgate’, a somewhat derisory name which meant ‘Neither-one-thing-nor-the-other street’. The gate bit comes from the Danish Viking gata, meaning street.

From this it evolved into Whip-ma-whop-ma-gate, amid speculation that it may once have housed a whipping post, although this is almost certainly an urban myth.  

York, being an ancient city with a rich and varied history, has a number of unusual street names. The Shambles, for example, has nothing to do with an untidy or rickety appearance, but derives from an obsolete term for an open air slaughterhouse and meat market. One argument is that the name comes from the Anglo Saxon shammel meaning the shelves that stores would use to display their wares. In time, a shamble became a stall for the sale of meat. So, Shambles refers to butchery, basically.

There’s also a Mad Alice Lane, but we don’t have the space to go into that one…

Find out more and apply


Location: Birmingham, West Midlands

The job: “These are exciting times to be working at Birmingham. As the host city for the Commonwealth Games and the delivery of the growth agenda, the city has experienced significant employment, housing and retail growth in recent years. This needs to be balanced against the need to manage development pressure and also protect and retain the city’s natural and built assets. To facilitate this process, we are seeking talented and driven individuals for the senior planning officer posts.

“Working within one of the city's development management teams, you will have the opportunity to deal with a whole range of non major planning applications or householder applications. The city deals with one of the largest number of applications in the country, whilst maintaining a very high level of performance and customer service.

“We have got huge ambitions for Birmingham. As the shape of local government continues to change, we are determined to rise to the challenge and find new ways to ensure that our residents enjoy the best opportunities in life. Working at Birmingham gives you the opportunity to play a part in meeting those ambitions on behalf of everyone who calls the city their home.”

Vintage tennis racquets [square]Fun fact: Tennis is a sport that’s been around since at least the 12th century, where it emerged in northern France. At that time, the ball would have been struck with the palm of the hand. It was taken up and popularised by Louis X, who built the first indoor court for jeu du paume.

By the 16th century, rackets were in use and the game became known as tennis from the French tenez! – hold, receive or take! King Henry VIII liked it. It was still played indoors and this game is played even today as ‘real tennis’.

The game we think of today as tennis – played with rackets on an outdoor court – was probably more or less invented by two Birmingham enthusiasts, Harry Gem, a solicitor, and his friend Augurio Perera. Between 1859 and 1865 they developed a game played on Perera’s croquet lawn that blended racquets with the Basque game pelota. In 1872 they created the world’s first tennis club, in Leamington Spa (they had both moved by then).

This really was the first codification of a game that is effectively modern tennis. It’s interesting that the evolution of outdoor racquet sports such as tennis was made more possible by the invention of the lawnmower, in 1830 – otherwise we might have had tennis (and many other sports) much sooner. Indeed, Louis X’s indoor court back in the late 13th century, which led ultimately to ‘real tennis’, as a response to the difficulty of playing the game outdoors on rough and uneven surfaces.

Find out more and apply


Location: Richmond/Wandsworth, south west London

The job: “Are you a planning graduate with a flair for statistics? We are looking for someone for a 12-month contract to assist in collating, producing, and reporting on planning-related data, which plays a key role in the work of the spatial planning and design team. 

“You will assist in the preparation of evidence base studies and produce data to support the reviews of the Richmond and Wandsworth Local Plans and other planning policy projects. This will include monitoring and reporting on developments, monitoring housing delivery, affordable housing, land use, and sustainability outcomes. You will also play a key role in providing and analysing statistics on the Councils’ planning performance measures.

“You will need to demonstrate accuracy in collating and using planning-related data, liaising closely with a wide range of officers to deliver accurate and timely research reports, and respond to a variety of requests for information.”

Royal Ballet School [square]Fun fact: You may or may not know that the Royal Ballet is (partly) housed in a grade I listed hunting lodge in Richmond Park, where it took up residence in 1955. The Richmond site is intended for students aged 11-16 (and was at one time a boarding school).

What you may not know, however, is that the Royal Ballet School was founded by the rather remarkable Anglo-Irish dancer and choreographer Ninette de Valois. And no, that’s not her real name. In fact, Ninette was born the somewhat less colourful but equally exotic Edris Stannus in County Wicklow in Ireland in 1898.

Her family were gentry, her father a senior British Army officer. She took up ballet at 10, while living with her grandmother in Kent, and her career was, frankly, stellar. She made her professional debut at 13 and by 21 was the principal dancer at the Royal Opera House. From there she danced as a soloiste with the Ballet Russes, a noted company founded by the Russian impresario Sergei Diaghilev.

Her dancing career was cut short, however, after doctors detected damage from a previously undiagnosed case of childhood polio – making it remarkable that she got as far as she did. Undeterred, Ninette reduced her dancing load and embarked on an additional career as a teacher and choreographer, with the ambition of creating a dance company schooled in a British style. She showed the same drive and capability here as she did on the stage, achieving her goal with the Sadlers Wells Ballet School, founded in 1931, which eventually became the Royal Ballet School and Royal Ballet Company in 1956. By then, the school had moved its ‘lower school’ to White Lodge in Richmond Park, where it remains today.

Why Richmond? Quite possibly because de Valois lived in nearby Barnes where her husband worked as a GP. Ninette remained director of the school until retirement in 1970. She lived to the very grand age of 102, dying in 2001. Her legacy is huge, as a dancer, choreographer, teacher, but most importantly as the founder of a uniquely British school of ballet which is considered one of the finest dance schools on the world. 

Find out more and apply


Location: Southwark, London

The job: “The NHS London Healthy Urban Development Unit (HUDU) seeks to maximise opportunities to improve health infrastructure, promote healthy lifestyles and tackle health inequalities. There is the need to ensure that investment in health infrastructure takes account of population growth, future health needs and new models of care.

“HUDU is expanding its team to provide greater support to the London NHS Integrated Care Boards to ensure that as many opportunities are secured to improve health facilities and outcomes through the planning process. HUDU has developed tools and techniques to help the NHS to respond to the planning agenda. The team helps the ICBs respond to major planning applications, secure developer contributions, engage with the plan-making process and with planners and public health colleagues across London authorities.

“We are looking for planning policy and project officers to make a significant contribution to the unit’s work programme including responding to major planning applications and borough’s local plans on behalf of the ICBs and health partners, and to undertake research into various aspects of healthy urban planning and promote and developing HUDU’s tools.”

Clink Prison Museum [square]Fun fact: Southwark: once a notorious den of vice and criminality, the haunt of thieves, gamblers, bear baiters, prostitutes, actors even, the lowest of the low, scumbags and reprobates, all. No surprise, then, that England’s oldest and most notorious prison should be found there, beside the Thames and just along Bankside from the Globe Theatre and the Bishop of Winchester’s Palace.

Between the 12th century and 1780 it served the Liberty of the Clink, a local manor area owned by the Bishop of Winchester, who was entitled to keep all revenues from the Clink Liberty, which may explain why it became such a den of gambling, prostitution and vice: the Bishop himself would undoubtedly have take his cut (indeed, the local prostitutes were known as the Bishop of Winchester’s Geese).

The Bishop was also entitled to jail people who failed to keep up their payments to him and it established a reputation as a debtor’s jail. But the Bishop was also by convention a senior member of the king's government, usually as Lord Chancellor, and could also put to trial in his ecclesiastic court those accused of heresy and other religious offences. By the 16th century, when religious conflict was at its height, the Clink had become mainly a jail for heretics and those who opposed the Bishop’s religious views.

The Clink was finally burned down by rioters in 1780 and never rebuilt, although there’s now a Clink Prison Museum on Clink Street, near to its  original site, which tries to recreate the conditions of the original prison.

The prison’s name, Clink, is most likely onomatopoeic and drawn from the sound of doors being bolted and chains rattled. The Liberty itself actually took its name from the prison, informally at first. But it’s also become a generic term for prison – even today we talk about people being ‘in the clink’. You have the Bishop of Winchester to thank for that.

Find out more and apply

Image credits | Roy Hinchcliffe, Shutterstock; Alexey Fedorenko, Shutterstock; iStock; Anthony Shaw Photography, Shutterstock; Lorraine Mitchell, Shutterstock