MCILROYS celebrated its 100th birthday in August of 1975 with a big advertising supplement in its local newspaper.

The business would close amid much sadness 23 years later, but in its centenary year it was still going strong like countless other local department stores across the country.

Adver readers were greeted by a masthead proclaiming it was the McIlroys Edition, beneath which two chubby cherubs floated either side of a wreath bearing the message: “McIlroys 1875 1975 Centenary.”

Staff members interviewed included Olive Bradfield, known as Braddy, who had been there for many years. She said: “We still have a happy atmosphere here because we all say what we think.

“We have all worked together for so long and the bosses are so approachable.”

Restaurant manager Bryn Castle said the chandeliers and panelling in the Jacobean dining area had come from the ocean liner Mauritania following its scrapping in the 1930s, and we repeated an anecdote about the Persian carpets there supposedly having been taken from the palace of the last Tsar of Russia before his murder.

The advert promised of Bargains of the Century, which included selections from just about all of the store’s many departments.

There were Philips Battery Ladyshaves, for example, down from £8.39 to £4.85, and Morphy Richards toasters down from £17.43 to £12.75. One of the best bargains in the homeware section was a 43-piece stainless steel cutlery set at £6.99. Customers could choose from two styles, Finsk and Montego.

The corsetry department offered bras for as little as a pound and something called a waist nipper in scarlet, emerald, green and white for £4.60.

The games department had golf clubs at £3.25 apiece, Monopoly and Cluedo for £2.25, Sorry (a Ludo-like board game) for £1.50 and table football for £1.30.

Yardley perfume could be had for 74p per small bottle, while gentlemen wishing to cut a dash could do so in a two-piece suit for as little as £35.10. This was an especially good bargain in a fashion era when extra material was needed for flared trousers and giant lapels.

We wrote: “A hundredth birthday is always a pretty special occasion. When it’s Swindon’s ‘Mac’s,’ the whole town is involved.

“In August 1875 William McIlroy opened a shop and began his drapery empire of 22 shops.

“He was later joined in business by his two sons, William Junior and Ewart, and they established or took over stores in many places – among them Bristol, East Grinstead, Kirkby in Ashfield, Minehead, Stroud and parts of Wales.”

Another section of the supplement revealed: “A little over 100 years ago Regent Circus, Swindon, was a farm (remember Cow Lane until the Post Office was demolished quite recently?) and Regent Street itself was pretty rural.

“There were not more than a dozen shops between the Circus and the tram centre and they had fields in between.

“Opposite the Rifleman’s (now a restaurant next to the Savoy pub) stood a tiny cottage with an old-fashioned flower garden which was used as a turnpike house.”