THE Swindon Advertiser is starting a new chapter in a story which began on Monday February 6, 1854.

Our new building in Dorcan is the third we have called home, but for most of our long history we were at 100 Victoria Road.

It was from there that news of countless events, some of them world-changing and others important only to those directly involved, was passed on.

Kings and queens died or were born, wars were declared and endured, sporting heroes were feted and sometimes commiserated with, children were born and centenarians congratulated.

Generations of journalists, advertising staff, printers, photographers, typesetters and the rest of the panoply of people involved in newspaper production spent part or all of their working lives there.

Our surroundings have now changed, but the Swindon Advertiser is just as committed to serving this community as it was when founder William Morris prepared the early editions in rooms above a Wood Street shop all those years ago.

Journalists have fond memories of Victoria Road but are also looking forward to the future.

Editor Pete Gavan said: “It’s fantastic to look back at these archive pictures and see how things used to be. It’s sometimes hard to imagine in these days of email and paperless living exactly what it was like.

“But it’s also great to be looking forwards and we’re all looking forward to getting settled in to our new home.”

The longest-serving Adver journalist is assistant editor Steve Webb, who joined as a reporter in April of 1984.

He said: “Having arrived from a relatively quiet district office of a weekly newspaper in Cornwall, the first thing that struck me about the interior of the Adver building was the general buzz and ceaseless activity. And my first impression of walking into the newsroom was the clatter of typewriters (ask your grandparents, kids), the loud ‘jingle’ ringing of the old style telephones, and a cloud of cigarette smoke that hovered just below the ceiling.

“Elsewhere, the building was packed with people, all performing a bewildering but vital range of tasks which went together to produce, at that time, four daily editions of the Swindon Evening Advertiser.

“And of course we had our own printing press. Within minutes of the last page having been sent, we could feel a rumble in the newsroom as the press was fired up two floors below us. It was exciting.

“Not that it’s not exciting now – it’s just different. The clatter of typewriters has been replaced by the softer tapping of computer keyboards, phones now come with a variety of ringtones – and, definitely a good thing, there’s no cigarette smoke.”

Deputy editor Michelle Tompkins is another veteran, having joined 29 years ago, left briefly and returned in 1997.

“I have mixed feelings about leaving this Old Town landmark,” she said. “It has been my office since I started as a trainee reporter here in 1989 – but anyone who has been inside the building in the past few years will agree it is time we moved on to something fresh and new.

“I remember walking into the Victoria Road newsroom for the very first time as a shy 15-year-old on work experience. The clatter of the typewriters and phones ringing non-stop were deafening; the barks of the news editor and the fearsome sub-editors even louder as they dished out their orders. A thick fug of cigarette smoke hung above everyone’s heads, and the entire workforce disappeared for at least two hours at lunchtime, out of the back door and into The Roaring Donkey. I fell in love with the job instantly.

“Things are very different today. The phones ring much less often as we conduct most of our interviews via email or social media, and I prefer to have a quiet word with the reporters rather than old-style barking.

“But the job is still essentially the same - telling the people of our community what’s going on in their home town. We might be leaving Old Town but we are not going away.”

Former reporter Fiona Scott, who worked at the Adver in the 1990s and is now a media consultant, said: “I always wanted to work in local media and I’m hugely grateful to the Adver for being part of my journey. The paper brought me to Swindon which has been my home for the last 20 years and is home to my children.

“I’m thankful to everyone I worked with and to everyone who chose to share their stories with me - both wonderful and terrible. I’m hugely privileged to have been given that honour.”

The most recent addition to our reporting staff, Sid Hayns-Worthington, joined only a few weeks ago.

“As the newest recruit for the Advertiser,” he said, “it’s exciting to be moving to a new home for the local paper and into a building that is modern.

“Once the team have all transitioned over this week we’re all looking forward to being able to deliver the stories which matter for the people of Swindon in the coming months and years.”

Journalist Flicky Harrison, with the Adver since 1987, said: “It will be a huge wrench to leave this beautiful building and Old Town, but it is a new exciting chapter in the evolution of our local paper.

“The paper has always been at the heart of Swindon’s community and will continue to be.

“We have bright, shiny new offices in Dorcan where members of the public are always welcome to drop in and tell us their story, and we are always on the end of the telephone or at a click of a button online.”