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Abstract.  This talk looks at the evolution of civic architecture and in particular how these buildings came to symbolise the wealth and importance of towns and the civic pride of their citizens. Originally basic, functional buildings, they began, in the 18th Century, to be more imposing structures. This led to the great masterpieces of grand architecture that are our Victorian and Edwardian town halls. Architecturally, Georgian mansions gave way to Greek and then Roman temples, to Italian Renaissance palazzos, mediaeval Gothic halls, Northern Renaissance concoctions and Edwardian Baroque palaces.

Since the end of World War II we seem to have returned to mundane utility with some rather dull civic centres. The decline of local government in recent decades has left some of the great structures of the past at risk of redundancy and destruction, and in need of care and attention.