Civic ritual and pageantry have been mainstays of urban culture since the Middle Ages, but it has been suggested that they entered a period of decline from the 1870s onwards. This article suggests that instead, local authorities reformed and revised their use of civic ceremony, celebration and commemoration, in order to keep pace with contemporary culture and to maintain public interest. The towns of Darlington and Middlesbrough are considered to highlight the use of recreational and sensory-rich ritual in the urban setting. It is suggested that historians should therefore adopt a broader methodology and broaden their definition of what constituted civic ritual in the twentieth century.
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