Both Eric Jones and Malcom Falkus have written elsewhere on the subject of the eighteenth-century town: Jones on the impact of fire and Falkus on street lighting (see the references at the end of the piece reprinted here, and also E. L. Jones, S. Porter, and M. Turner, A Gazetteer of English Urban Fire Disasters 1500-1900, Historical Geography Research Series, no. 13 (Norwich, 1984)}. Their substantial and fertile essay places these subjects in the context of the much wider theme of urban improvement. The authors emphasize that advances were underway long before the classic period of the Industrial Revolution, and that their effects were felt not so much in the 'industrial' towns of the North as in the smallish agricultural centres of the South. Two main themes are developed: the mounting investment in the public and private urban fabric, and the subtle but significant changes in the structure of local government, particularly as demonstrated by the rise of improvement commissions. Underpinning much of the detailed argument is the notion of what may be called qualitative, as opposed to quantitative urbanization. Jones and Falkus argue that although between 1660 and 1750 provincial urban centres experienced only limited population growth, a process of urbanization was clearly underway: towns were becoming more environmentally commodious, economically efficient and culturaliy sophisticated. The authors may underestimate the degree of growth occurring, but the general point, that urbanization is not exclusively or even necessarily a demographic process, is one well worth considering in the context of eighteenth-century towns.