THERE’S a carpet warehouse where a shoe shop would one day become a decades-old Swindon business.

A shop in Bridge Street is doing a brisk trade in spring-steel corsets, a horse-drawn hearse can be hired at the Great Western Hotel and the train fare from Swindon to Paddington is the equivalent of less than 70p.

The world revealed in a small book called The Swindon Trader is both familiar and strange.

More than 30 years ago, adverts from some of the Swindon Advertiser’s earliest editions images were gathered by veteran feature writer Stanley Hurwitz.

They show a Swindon whose Old Town and New Town had yet to be united as a single borough.

At the end of what was then called Bath Terrace stood the premises of Spiller and Sons, house furnishers and carpet suppliers.

The building is still there and easily recognisable from the illustration, but it is now Blaylocks, the shoe shop. A woman in a crinoline dress can just be seen entering a side door.

Stanley Hurwitz found an advert for a shoe supplier, the GWR Boot and Shoe Depot, which was opposite the main entrance to the GWR Works and run by a Mr Reynolds.

“RR Reynolds,” said the text, “begs to inform the Inhabitants of Swindon and Neighbourhood that he has always on hand a large Stock suitable for all classes of wear…”

The range included extra-strong hob nailed boots for the equivalent of 55p and ladies’ button and lace boots for the equivalent of a little over 70p.

There was at least one other supplier. “If you want a good and useful pair of Boots,” said an advert showing an elephant holding a sign with its trunk, “go to W Sherwood’s, 46, Bridge Street, New Swindon.”

Bridge Street was also home to Blaxland, supplier of the Carmenia spring steel corset, which was billed as specially recommended for wear and comfort. The woman illustrated cannot have been especially comfortable, though, as the garment seemed only a few inches from cutting her in half.

Photographer RK Passmore advertised his Victoria Street – it was yet to be known as Victoria Road – business with a homely image of a matriarch and her small daughters posing for a side-whiskered gentleman with a large camera on a tripod.

A Mr Orlando Baker – “Architect & Surveyor, Appraiser, Measurer” – ran a fire, life, and plate glass insurance business at 38 Regent Street.

The Great Western Hotel, opposite the station just as it is today, had a selection of horse drawn vehicles for hire, including a hearse known as a Shillibier.

Back in Old Town, the King’s Arms Hotel had bottles of aged whisky at the equivalent of 15p, crates of port at the equivalent of 90p and cognac at the equivalent of £1.40 a gallon.