SOMETIMES we see towns missing their very heart. For example, we see Bridgend having its town hall demolished some decades back and, as for Barry, we almost saw our hall going the same way, used as the foundations for a traffic island.

I sent out two of my intrepid explorers to get the picture for this week's column; in the inclement weather. Both Kate Phillips and Peter Sampson responded to the call to help with the image. Personally you couldn't use a more iconic shot of Barry, but getting a full angle of the Barry town hall facade alas wasn't possible.

The architectural style of the Barry Town Hall is referred to as neo-Baroque, a building you could not miss within the Barry and District changing storm over the past 30 years. Mind you, you could never miss the grand old jesture of Barry going places since the town hall was semi-completed in 1908.

Yes, 'semi' because the original planned town hall from the original plans of 1903, was at least three times the size. The frontage - including the clock tower - was all that we could afford, despite being the biggest exporter of coal in the world in 1913.

I remember - as a child - entering the library from the furthest eastern entrance into an area where a grand staircase met your gaze; a staircase Mr Karl-James Langford, you were never to go up, so be warned. As at that point in the early 1980s the upstairs was quickly being condemned for use. All of that is now behind us with a grand refit of the town hall less than two decades ago.

The original plan for the town hall, which was home to the Barry Urban District Council, and the library extended further along Tynewydd Road, and utilised more of what one would refer to as Central Park, but this was never to be.

Only phase I of the 1903 plans was ever built and funded generously from a grant by the Andrew Carnegie Trust. Maybe phase II was a casualty of the 1914 to 1918 war.

Before the town hall was constructed there had been a row of shops and houses directly where the open space is in front of the new build of 1908. These buildings were promptly demolished to make way for an open space.

The open space in front of the Barry Town Hall was named King Edward VII Square; it is now known as King Square.

The building of the Barry Town Hall phase I left a vacuum of unfinished work to its rear until the new library was built in the early 2000s and, in some way, part of phase II from the original architectural plans was realised eventually.We thank the authorities for the restoration of this great building also.

The whole project for the town hall and library started as an architectural competition, with C. E. Hutchinson and E. Harding Payne of London being the winners. Portland stone as ever being used in the buildings fine detail with its locally manufactured red brick.

For me the finest details of this grand building are the two lions that flank the western entrance of the steps. We don't see a great deal of animal carvings in Barry when compared to places such as Cardiff.

There is a sense also of some great occasions being celebrated in front of the town hall, at King Square, such as the celebrations on May 8 in 1945 with the ending of World War 2 in Europe.

I hope you join us next week for more delights.