Wandering around the marbled corridors and grand rooms of Fulham Town Hall, the most striking impression today is one of empty space.
Where once the 120-year-old building was a seething mass of administrative activity – requiring two extensions in 1904 and 1934 to accommodate its various uses – it now stands dusty and almost silent despite the constant bustle of Fulham Broadway outside.
Since the Metropolitan Borough of Fulham merged with Hammersmith in the mid-1960s, offices, staff and services have steadily migrated to Hammersmith Town Hall and other buildings elsewhere, leaving only the cemeteries and CCTV departments, register office and local housing teams.
Between 60 and 80 council workers now use the building at any one time, a drop in the ocean compared to the authority's 3,500-strong workforce. When costly repairs and maintenance bills are added into the equation, it is perhaps no surprise that the council is now planning to put the building up for sale.
Philip Morris, the council's strategic regeneration manager in Fulham, said: "This was built for a specific purpose, and as a second town hall it's very difficult to think what on earth to use it for now. We've got to look at sustainable uses for our assets.
"There's a lot of work required here and it is a specialist building. We're asking people throughout the borough what they think if the idea of selling it, and setting out some of the issues that we have in terms of money."
The cost of essential repairs to the roof alone is estimated at £2 million, and water damage to various parts of the building is an ongoing issue. Two ceilings have collapsed within the last five years, in both cases leading to lucky escapes for people who had recently been in the rooms concerned.
The building's architectural glory is most evident in three large rooms – the council chamber, the concert hall and the grand hall – but finding a suitable new use for each of them will be one of the key challenges in securing the building's future.
The grand hall was renovated three years ago and is now hired out for wedding receptions, parties and other social events.
Facilities manager Tony Clarke said: "It was in a pretty poor state decoratively, so it was refurbished and I think they did a spectacular job in really bringing out the room."
Down a corridor, the concert hall is used for everything from school exams to tea dances for senior citizens, but emergency repairs visible on the ceiling reveal an urgent need for investment.
"Just to clean this room, you have to get tower scaffolding set up," said Mr Clarke. "It doesn't take many weddings before the dust starts accumulating. Simply cleaning it leads to a massive bill."
The planned sale of the site – along with at least nine other public buildings around the borough – is already proving controversial, although many recognise the need for action.
Angela Dixon, chairman of Hammersmith and Fulham Historic Buildings Group, said Fulham Town Hall is a 'splendid' building which is 'very important' to the people of Fulham, adding that some suitable civic use ought to be retained if it is sold.
And Maya Donelan, secretary of the Fulham Society, said: "We'd be really sorry to see it sold off to an outside company, but on the other hand we're very concerned for the future of the town hall because it's an iconic building.
"We really want to see a good, imaginative new use for it. I'm sure the council are taking their responsibilities seriously and I have faith that they care about the building and want it to have a good future.
"It's in a very bad site – it has no proper access for deliveries, and when Chelsea play at home it's virtually inaccessible.
"But there must be a solution, and I'm sure we'll find it."
Others are more critical about the need to sell off such a valuable public asset, when it could be worth a lot more once the economy has made a fuller recovery.
Anthony Wade, a resident of Fulham for more than 50 years and a fomer employee of the old Fulham Borough Council, said any attempt to sell off the town hall would 'rob us Fulhamites of part of our heritage and is to be deplored and resisted'.
And Stephen Cowan, the council's Labour opposition leader, said: "It's ridiculous to sell these assets off now when the market is at the floor, and bad value for the people of this borough.
"The only people who have got any money are casinos, and I think that would be completely wrong for that part of Fulham."