THIS photograph of Regent Street was taken at precisely 10.15 on the morning of Tuesday, April 14, 1936.
For anybody feeling disorientated, the building on the right with the white pillars at ground level and the short turret on the roof is now best known as the former Next shop.
Opposite is McIlroys, the department store which survived until the late1990s.
We know exactly when the photograph was taken because the information was given in the caption we ran beneath it 81 years ago.
What the picture couldn’t show was the main reason why the town’s busiest shopping street was all but deserted in the middle of a weekday morning.
“Ten degrees of frost marked the close of the Easter Holidays in Swindon,” we said.
“There was a great anti-climax to the town’s celebration of the festival; having, apparently, been disheartened by the roguishness of the Weather Clerk, the majority of local holidaymakers spent several extra hours in bed on Bank Holiday morning and the rest of the day by the fireside. At 11 o’clock in the morning three Spartan citizens had the whole of Regent Street, the town’s major shopping centre, to themselves.
“The town was almost deserted and assumed an atmosphere as dreary and forbidding as that of the leaden skies that periodically sent down a few flakes of snow.”
Until Sunday night, we said, the main Swindon railway station and the one in Old Town were both thronged with trippers, but by the following morning people were choosing to remain at home in front of their fires.
If they did venture outside, they tended not to go far, which was good news for local sources of entertainment.
We said: “There was a silver lining even to this Easter cloud, the various cinemas being crowded to capacity, while Swindon Town’s match with Coventry City attracted one of the finest gates of the season.
“The town’s museum, too, came in for a fair share of patronage, about 300 people visiting Apsley House during the weekend.
“This is well above the average for any holiday season.”
Later on Easter Monday, we added, Swindon had languished under a prolonged storm while only a few miles away people basked in warm sunshine.