AN EXTRAORDINARY photograph appeared in the Adver this week in 1970.

It was taken at the Wyvern Theatre, which was under construction ahead of its opening the following year.

At the centre of a group of five men was Brien Chitty, the visionary and inspiring first administrator of the theatre, who was credited with doing much to raise Swindon’s profile as a theatre town.

He was surrounded by living proof of his skill.

To Brien’s left was Laurence Harvey, the Oscar-nominated actor whose credits included John Wayne’s The Alamo and Cold War classic The Manchurian Candidate, in which he starred as a soldier brainwashed into becoming an assassin.

Standing next to Harvey, who would die of cancer aged just 45 in 1973, was Duncan Weldon, one of Britain’s best-known theatrical impresarios.

At the far left of the Adver image was Monty Norman, a composer whose work includes one of the most familiar pieces of music in the world, the James Bond theme.

Next to him was another showbusiness heavyweight with a James Bond connection. Screenwriter Wolf Mankowitz contributed to the first Bond film, Dr No, and Casino Royale, an offbeat 1967 film starring David Niven as the agent.

The distinguished group visited Swindon at the invitation of Mr Chitty.

We said: “Actor Laurence Harvey want to direct a new Wolf Mankowitz musical and play the title role in Shakespeare’s Coriolanus at Swindon’s Wyvern Theatre.

“He has also suggested he might like to use the Wyvern as a base for a new and exciting theatre company.”

Another town centre building was also pictured in the newspaper, but it was so new that it only existed as a model.

The model in question cost £1,400 to make – more than the price of certain new cars – and was on display at the Civic Offices.

It was of the planned new Brunel Centre, and our photographer decided to try an interior shot.

The result, though reminiscent of a still from an unsettling animated film, shows how true to the original design the finished centre was.

The miniature Brunel Centre wasn’t the only model on display at the Civic Offices.

“Visitors to Swindon’s housing department are being met with true Christmas spirit this year,” we said.

“The first thing they see as they go in is a crib, and in the waiting room is a Christmas tableau.

“The decorations are the work of one of the receptionists, Mrs Kathleen Purnell.

“Over the autumn weeks, she made a row of Victorian shops, with a church and pipe cleaner shoppers to go along the mantelpiece in the waiting room.

“She also made the stable for the crib out of cardboard and a straw, and a starry blue sky to go behind it. The figures were found by one of her colleagues, Mrs Pat Loveday.”

No week in the run-up to Christmas would be complete without at least one heart-warming animal story, and we were happy to oblige.

Clifton Street resident Noreen Smart was pictured holding her four-legged lodger, a stray jet black dog.

She had found the animal huddled outside her home, and the new arrival had since made friends with her own dogs. Noreen hoped the owner would see the picture and come forward.

We reported a happy ending to the story 48 hours later: “Mrs Susan Middleton’s little black dog will be spending Christmas at home in Brunswick Road, Swindon, after all.

“When the dog was missing earlier this week her owner was out till the early hours of the morning looking for it.

“But it had been found by Mrs Noreen Smart, of Clifton Street, Swindon.

“A picture of the dog, with Mrs Smart, in the Evening Advertiser, brought many offers of adoption – and a relieved Mrs Middleton to take it home for Christmas.”

Another story we featured that week was about a determined young pioneer.

Today it is not unusual for a young woman to train as an engineer, but in 1970 it was more than enough to merit a news story.

Janet Luce, 18, of Penhill, was Plessey’s only female engineering apprentice, although she insisted she was too busy with her work to dwell on the fact.

“I don’t think I’d like hairdressing, for instance,” she said. “But then I wouldn’t say every girl would enjoy engineering. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea.”

We said: “With her long fair hair, mini skirt and trendy shoes, Janet doesn’t really fit the brawny engineer image. But she doesn’t find the physical side of the work too difficult, she says.”

Janet confessed only the occasional difficulty, mainly the final tightening of bolts, but like many of her fellow trainees she had learned that judicious use of a mallet worked wonders.

She planned a full-time career in engineering, and if she happens to be reading this we would love to hear from her.