SHOPPERS in the middle of the last decade stroll along a Havelock Street changed beyond recognition.

Many of the old shops have been demolished and replaced or else radically remodelled, but those differences are nothing compared to what has happened in Havelock Square.

The familiar statue of Isambard Kingdom Brunel is all but lost amid an enormous extension of the shopping centre which bears his name.

People passing beneath the double-decker glass walkway linking the old and new parts of the centre soon find themselves invited to enter a shiny new department store, whose curves and metallic surfaces seem designed to resemble some space station.

The images on this page are among many in our archives depicting alternate futures across the Swindon area.

These two are from 2002, when Australian firm Westfield, the then owners of the Brunel Centre, announced a huge facelift for the venue.

The proposed programme of improvements was said to be worth £150m and included 100 shops, a new food hall, a new department store, a 10-screen cinema and a 1,400-bay car park.

It also originally included the removal of every shop in Morley Street and half of those in Havelock Street.

Unsurprisingly, this aspect of the plan was met with horror by most of the business owners affected. Westfield and Swindon Borough Council were inundated with complaints.

Many owners of small businesses feared they would simply have to give up trading, while those who planned to carry on worried that any alternative sites they found wouldn’t have nearly as much footfall.

Such was the furore that Westfield eventually announced an amended proposal, confining redevelopment to a 7.4 hectare - about 18 acres - site bounded by Farnsby Street, Market Street, Commercial Road, Temple Street, Regent Street, Canal Walk and Carr Street.

Morley Street’s shops would still have to go, but only two in Havelock Street would have a date with the wrecking ball.

This, combined with official reassurances that displaced traders would be found new town centre premises, was enough to dispel many of the objections.

As things turned out, however, nobody needed to worry.

In 2005 Westfield sold the Brunel Centre for £130m to Capital and Investment Trust, who soon announced that they did not intend to press ahead with the regeneration project.