SWINDON Advertiser readers were invited to fantasise about having half a million pounds this week in 1972.

So, no doubt, were other local newspaper readers across the country as editors did their best to localise a major national story.

Cyril Grimes, a 62-year-old accountant from Liss in Hampshire, had won £512,683 on the football pools, becoming the first single winner to take home more than half a million pounds.

With modern EuroMillions jackpots sometimes reaching two or three hundred times that sum, it might seem relatively modest, but at 1972 prices it was anything but.

A glance through our adverts for the week reveals that Mr Grimes could have bought up to about 70 detached family houses, nearly 23,000 sheepskin coats or roughly 61m Oxo cubes.

Alternatively, he could have acquired enough family-sized Fray Bentos steak and kidney pies to keep his household in evening meals until about the eleventh millennium.

Our reporters took to the streets and asked local people what they would do with such riches.

The first turned out not to be local at all, but Australian June Batterbury who was staying with her husband in Shrivenham during a work posting.

After learning what the pools were, she said: “A lovely house by the sea back home in Queensland for me.”

Young mum Denise McGlynn, of Ferndale Road, said: “I would buy a house and furnish it the way I want it. The rest I would invest to provide security for me and my daughter.”

Frank Stevens, 80, of Shrivenham Road, said: “I’ve done the pools since I was 21. I’ve never won more than £10. My Premium Bonds have not produced a sausage.

“If I did win, I’d go straight on the booze and enjoy myself.”

People without half a million pounds to think about spending – or even a fiver, for that matter – could always consult our entertainment section for less expensive diversions.

With tickets costing less than a pound, cinema was cheap if not exactly cheerful. The ABC, which is now The Savoy pub, had relentless tearjerker Love Story, while the Odeon, now the MECA, offered Dustin Hoffman and Susan George in notorious violent revenge thriller Straw Dogs.

The Wyvern Theatre was a happier proposition, especially for music lovers.

Boss Brien Chitty announce a list of attractions for the coming weeks which included Peter Sarstedt, whose best-known hit was – and is – Where Do You Go To (My Lovely) from 1969.

Sarstedt died in January of this year, aged 75.

Also expected were psychedelic stalwarts the Edgar Broughton Band, prog rockers Van Der Graaf Generator, The Strawbs and Status Quo.

Although there was plenty of arts news, science and innovation also got their fair share of coverage.

We pictured Park Senior High headmaster PA Coggin and pupil David Biggins gazing intently at what looked like a narrow and rather unexciting roll of wallpaper.

In fact, it was a piece of the impossibly-exciting high-tech future.

“No, it’s not Paradise Lost written four times or a petition about the weather,” we said.

“It’s a computer print-out.

“It was produced by David Biggins, 17,of Park Senior High, with more than a little help from a computer. The print-out tells headmaster Mr PA Coggin exactly how many pupils want special option subjects and how many classes will be needed.

“In a giant comprehensive like Park, this job usually takes weeks of paperwork.

“But David and his friends came up with the result in four hours using computer facilities at The College plugged into a computer complex in London.”

Thanks to the ongoing Apollo moon landing programme, space-related stories were popular, and there was an impressive one from Commonweal School.

We said: “Members of the school’s astronautical society are planning to set up a space tracking station, all for £48.

“The equipment will virtually consist of an ordinary VHF radio, an oscilloscope and a 16ft aerial. They’ll need a camera as well to piece together the pictures they hope to receive from the dozens of orbiting satellites.

“The equipment will be geared to pick up pictures from American satellites orbiting Western Europe.”

Potential scientific applications of the data, we added, included gathering images of cloud formations to be used by climate scientists.

A somewhat more earthy – and watery – project was in progress at Ridgeway School, where pupils were designing a machine to clear the Kennet-Avon Canal.

“With scrap metal and wood from broom handles they are making a conveyor belt which will carry weeds and sludge from a specially-converted boat in the canal up on to the banks.

“It is all part of a massive operation by eight Wiltshire schools to make the whole canal navigable.”