AN OFFICAL guide to an extinct borough opens a window on the Swindon of 40 years ago.

When the booklet kept in the Adver archives was published in 1978, Thamesdown was four years old.

Cobbled together during local government reorganisation, the borough was never popular with the public, and went unmourned when it was replaced by the new borough of Swindon in 1997.

The tone of the guide published four decades ago suggests it was aimed at people and organisations considering relocating to the town.

The emphasis was very much on dynamism, economic strength and fun activities for all the family.

“In addition to the Wyvern Regional Film Theatre,” it notes, “Swindon has a ‘three cinemas in one’ facility at the ABC which is now divided into three separate units.”

This was the Regent Street cinema which eventually became the Savoy pub.

The guide continues: “Dancing can be enjoyed at various hotels in the area and at The Brunel Rooms at the Brunel Centre.

“The Brunel Rooms, opened only in 1973, consist of a main ballroom (a feature of which is a revolving bar), a Quiet Bar and an Amphitheatre Discotheque.

“More than 1,000 people can dance to resident bands or visiting groups.

“A lively community arts project backed by the Council arranges a whole host of events and activities from dancing in the streets to wall paintings.”

The handful of colour photographs in the guide are mostly devoted to leisure.

They include images of the modern pool at the Oasis, shoppers relaxing outside the Brunel Centre and a view of the Wyvern Theatre.

Advertisers include Garrard, Plessey, Thorn Television Rentals and British Leyland, which provided images of the Austin Maxi and Mini Clubman whose panels were made in Swindon.

“Swindon,” says the guide, “is the industrial and commercial centre of Thamesdown and, indeed of Wiltshire.”

In 1978 the population stood at about 149,000, having more than doubled since Swindon was designated a post-war expansion town in 1953.

The Thamesdown coat of arms, these days a seldom-remembered relic, is prominently displayed on the first page of the guide.

In contrast to the familiar Swindon Arms with their locomotive and muscular arm bearing crossed hammers, the Thamesdown symbol features fire-breathing horses, a green background symbolising the Downs and blue lines to evoke the river.