“WE’RE very excited that we’ve reached 170 years, which is an achievement for any business,” said Richard Deacon.

“I’m sure when George Deacon, a 26-year-old young man of 1848, set the business up, even he would be amazed that it’s still here 170 years later, and I’m sure he’d be very proud of that fact.

“It’s an exciting year. We’ve obviously got lots of plans to celebrate our anniversary through what remains of 2018. We’ve done some limited editions of Moorcroft China – three pieces called Bandstand, Town Gardens and just simply The Legend of Deacons.

“They’re vases, very special. The smallest piece is limited to 25 pieces, the medium size to 20 pieces and the largest to only 15. So I suppose it’s an opportunity for somebody to own a little piece of Swindon history.”

Limited edition items are something of a speciality.

“Over the years we’ve always prided ourselves on creating limited edition pieces that usually celebrate an event. I suppose one of the most successful that comes to mind was when we did the 200th anniversary of Brunel’s birthday [in 2006], which obviously was something very significant in the history of Swindon because of the Great Western Railway.

“It will always stick in my memory because we actually launched this limited edition watch on Saturday, April 1, and I can remember driving along Wood Street at 8.15 that Saturday morning and being astonished to find that there was a queue of people down Wood Street, waiting to buy this very limited edition watch of which there were a hundred pieces only.

“They were mainly Swindon people and probably people who had relatives who’d worked in the railway, and I can remember thinking, ‘More fool I,’ because by five to ten on that Saturday morning we’d virtually sold out of the hundred watches!”

Richard puts much of the business’s success down to learning from the past, looking to the future - and being aware of the niche it’s spent 17 decades carving out.

“If you look around our shop we have a lot of individual items. They’re special items, and they’re probably items people would only consider buying for a special occasion, a milestone, an event in their life like getting married, a first child, maybe an anniversary, maybe just simply a long service award.

“But usually people like to celebrate their milestones and they like to have something they can treasure to remember that milestone by.

“That’s very important to us – it’s the very essence of a family business. We’re celebrating the life cycle and we provide things that people mark those events with, those important calendar events in their lives.”

Planned innovations include what might be the ultimate in personalised jewellery, with customers using computer aided design programmes to create their ideal items, which the company will turn into reality.

Richard believes that as bricks-and-mortar businesses face increasing online competition, only those which offer good service and have unique selling points will prosper.

He would like to see the town turned into a major shopping destination, and is a strong advocate of linking the various shopping areas with a privately-funded light railway or tram system.

“I think Swindon will be a city, and the catalyst to make that happen is to link all the different points of the town together.

“You’ve got a scattering of quite large blocks, if you like, of retail and service activities that are spread, and I think the one way of making the economic prosperity of the town greater would be to link that together.”

Richard also has strong ideas about the role of businesses in communities; since 2004, for example, the company has provided a diamond ring for auction at the annual Swindon Charity Ball.

“I think it’s very important to remember the community around you, and therefore it’s very important to support that community. Let’s face it - the majority of our customers live in this community, and I think it’s very important that businesses give something back, because without that giving an area can soon go into reverse.

“Business does owe the community a duty of care in the same way that the community owes its local businesses a duty of care, too.”