THERE were more than enough serious stories to go around this week in 1972, but that didn’t keep us from the odd flight of fancy.

The appearance of tandem pillar boxes was enough to send us a little whimsical. We photographed the new boxes, near what is now the Moody’s Place restaurant, being visited by a young estate agent’s assistant, Paula Crofton.

In the years before faxes and then email revolutionised written communication, it was common to see pairs or even rows of boxes in busy areas.

“Ever since the stodgy old GPO became the zippy 70s-style Post Office Corporation,” we said, “things have been happening, post-wise.

“And this, twin pillar boxes in Commercial Road, Swindon, is unquestionably part of the relentless search for dynamic, abrasive efficiency.

“Two obvious virtues. It matches the Government’s Freedom to Choose Philosophy, and it enshrines the much admired administrative practice of doing things in duplicate.

“Spreading the practice could yield other benefits. More pillar boxes means more collections - and that means fewer jobless.

“Supplies of red and black paint and cast iron tubing (heavy gauge) will also be in demand, leading to a considerable rise in industrial investment.”

The front page of our Monday edition that final week of June 46 years ago showed a fireman wielding a hose on a rooftop against a background of choking black smoke.

Most of our readers already knew where it was taken, as the pall had been visible for miles.

We said: “Production at Unigate Dairies, Wootton Bassett, is slowly getting back to normal today after the blaze which completely destroyed a building and cut off the firm’s electricity.

“Emergency arrangements for production and supplies to customers were immediately put into force and the effects are being kept to a minimum.

“Electricity supplies were cut when a large store room was completely gutted by fire on Saturday evening.

“One fireman was overcome by smoke and fumes. He was taken to hospital but later released. Several other firemen said they felt ‘a bit groggy’ from the smoke.”

The cause of the fire, which took 12 hours to put out and saw firefighters hampered by exploding gas cylinders, was unknown.

Unigate and an arm of the company, St Ivel, continued to operate in the town until 2003 when new owners closed the plant.

The site is now the Beaufort Park housing estate.

The blaze and those who extinguished it added fire and water to the news agenda that week, another Wootton Bassett story brought the other two classical elements.

Earth - or rather, hundreds of tons of limestone - came courtesy of a quarrying firm which had done a deal with British Rail to dump the material on a site owned by the nationalised company.

Air was what just about everybody in Wootton Bassett feared for the quality of as fleets of dumper trucks were set to trundle noisily and constantly throughout the town.

As was often the case in those days, nobody in authority saw fit to inform the population until the last minute, leading to so much anger that otherwise law-abiding people formed squads to blockade the site and the routes leading to it.

The police were called and some demonstrators accused officers of being heavy handed and partisan. Senior officers promised that complaints would be investigated.

One protester summed up the local mood: “We won’t give up until we win. It’s a fight to the death. The quarry firm must go.

“We’ll demonstrate day and night if necessary until we get what we want.”

Back in Swindon, the Burmah Oil building, which the firm would occupy for the rest of the century, was taking shape on its site just off Marlborough Road.

We said: “The three-storey building, which is to house 1,000 of the company’s office staff in their new headquarters is now emerging, and by next May French and Company, the contractors, should be ready to top out.

“When complete the Burmah complex will, as well as office space, provide dining rooms, a coffee bar, a shopping centre and car parking facilities.”

In other upbeat local industrial news, Swindon-based hi-fi firm Garrard marked a milestone.

One of its most popular turntables was the Zero 100, the 100,000th example of which rolled off the production line at Newcastle Street.

It was immediately whisked away to the office of general manager of manufacturing G Thompson Gordon,who was waiting with Swindon Rotary Club president Jack Brewer and an Adver photographer.

The turntable was donated to Rotary and most likely auctioned off for one of its charity drives.

The Zero 100 still has fans among vintage hi-fi enthusiasts.