LAST year saw WH Smith given permission to build homes on the site of its Greenbridge headquarters.

The company has pledged to remain in Swindon, but the occasion marked the end of an era.

As the building neared completion in June of 1966, there was so much excitement about the futuristic structure and the new jobs it represented that we devoted an entire advertising supplement to the firm.

The company decided to move after outgrowing its former base, an Art Deco confection overlooking the Thames which was eventually demolished in 1978.

On the cover, beneath a pen-and-ink drawing of the new building, we wrote: “To date every stage in the construction of Smith’s new Supply and Distribution Centre in Swindon has been completed on schedule.

“Today it is a hive of activity, of builders, engineers, carpenters, fitters, plasterers and painters.

“Very soon it will be every bit as busy coping with the colossal demands from Smith shops and bookstalls in all parts of the country.”

As operations had yet to be transferred from London to Swindon, the back page of the eight-page supplement showed men and women sorting books and doing clerical work in the London building, Bridge House, which was described as gloomy.

We said: “Great concrete support pillars - placed at alarmingly close intervals - choke the warehouse space.

“Four floors of shelving and packing benches are obviously cramped and cases have to be switched between floors to become fully loaded.

“The old warehouse is steeped in darkness. The light of day is seldom seen there.

“After a short tour, the advantage of having all goods on one floor becomes obvious.

“But more than anything else, inside Bridge House one realises the single basic fact; that an important job of distribution has to be done. And despite the magnificent views outside, the London warehouse has seen its better days inside.”

To tempt existing workers to Swindon and attract the best workers already in Swindon, the new site had an entire floor devoted to their entertainment.

“On the recreation floor,” we said, “will be special sections for billiards, table tennis and cards, a carpeted lounge where employees can sip tea and coffee and a licensed bar.”

There was also to be a restaurant and a programme of activities ranging from football to stamp collecting.