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Latitude: 51.6047 / 51°36'16"N
Longitude: -3.3408 / 3°20'26"W
OS Eastings: 307243
OS Northings: 190394
OS Grid: ST072903
Mapcode National: GBR HQ.B2DQ
Mapcode Global: VH6DK.1XQP
Entry Name: Municipal Buildings
Listing Date: 17 January 1990
Last Amended: 26 February 2001
Source ID: 13532
Building Class: Civil
Location: To the NW of the town centre. The main entrance front faces S to Chapel Street, which turns back along rear elevation.
County: Rhondda Cynon Taff
Traditional County: Glamorgan
Built 1903-4 and designed by Henry T Hare, London architect with an established national reputation for civic architecture, having already designed town halls at Oxford and Henley and the county hall at Stafford. The free Baroque style is characteristic of Hare's work.
In Baroque style, of 2 storeys and attic. The walls are coursed rubble with pale freestone dressings; slate roof (mansard to the side elevations) and gable parapets. The main front is symmetrical, of 2 storeys and 3 bays, distinguished at the top by an octagonal tapered timber bellcote, slate hung to the base and with a weathervane above. A high balustraded parapet has bulbous stone balusters above a dentil cornice. The ends are emphasised by broad strips of freestone facing, ornamented to the top by blank escutcheons. Similar ornament is used on the pilasters that divide each bay. Triple first-floor windows lighting the council chamber have broad Ionic derived columns. Below each are festooned and crowned rectangular panels. The ground floor has low-slung semi-circular arches in 'Market Hall' style, of which the central arch springs from channel-rusticated piers. The main entrance and flanking windows are deeply recessed behind these arches, creating a tunnel-like forecourt. Double doors have a small-pane glazed tympanum and mullion and transom windows. Contemporary cast-iron railings span the outer arches with gates to the centre with a simple rounded top. The end sections have classical niche-like recesses (characteristic of Hare's style) with segmental pediments, swagged edge to architraves and curved ironwork balconies. The bracket bases have fine sculptures of Prudentia to the L and Justitia to the R, both with foliage backdrops that lap over the ground-floor impost band. The sculptures are by J Dudley Forsyth of London. Unusually, the niches house winding staircases rather than sculpture.
The 11-bay E side, facing Morgan Street, has asymmetrical end bays brought forward. The L end bay has scrolled ends to the coped gable, above broad pilasters. A tiny attic window to the apex with semi-circular pediment and broad architrave. In the upper storey, lighting the council chamber, is a Venetian window with Ionic derived columns and beaded small pane glazing. In the ground floor is a broad segmental arched window with stepped keystones. The R end bay has a swept semi-circular gable with scrolled ends, and pilasters, similar to the L end bay. Below the segmental-headed attic window is a 3-light transomed first-floor window with architrave and a segmental ground floor window similar to the L end. The 9 bays between the ends have a slate hung attic to a Mansard roof, with 5 pedimented 4-light small-pane windows and a dentil cornice. Cross-frame small-pane windows to the first floor have moulded architraves and aprons. The ground floor has round-headed windows with stepped keystones and lugged and keyed architraves. The original design may have intended full-height openings here as the keyboards continue down below the sills. Panelled doors with small-pane glazing to the end bays are beneath small bullseye windows.
The W side wall, facing the narrow Chapel Street, has similar asymmetrical end gables and other details in common with the opposite Morgan Street elevation, but only 6 bays. It has a pair of 2-light windows in a continuous architrave with stepped keystones to the centre lighting the main staircase, with 2 further windows at pavement level.
The main entrance opens into a lobby with a ribbed and groin vaulted spinal corridor beyond. A stone staircase rises on the W side midway along. C18 style lugged doorcases throughout with bracket cornices and pulvinated friezes. In the upper storey is a 3-bay corridor leading to the main council rooms (council chamber, committee room and Mayor's parlour), which has segmental plaster vault with Tuscan pilasters, and is top lit by a glazed domical lantern in the central bay. Double half-glazed panel doors beneath a segmental pediment on consoles open to the exceptionally fine council chamber, which has a segmental vault and pilasters, armorial stained glass in the S and E windows and D-shaped seating. Beside this is the Mayor's parlour with elaborate plaster ceiling including deeply encrusted circular rib. A contemporary chimneypiece is retained in the committee room.
The main rooms retain original furniture, some of which is said to have been designed by Hare. The council chamber has white marble busts of Lord Pontypridd by D Arthur Thomas, dated 1902, and of James Roberts by Goscombe John, dated 1908.
Listed grade II* as an especially fine civic building retaining original interiors.
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