THE clothing of the crowd in this picture suggests it was taken in the first decade of the 20th century.

Showing a thatched roof fire in Swindon’s Newport Street, the image is a reminder that there is nothing new in people being fascinated by such spectacles.

The fashions and lack of smartphones aside, the photograph might have been taken at any time in the intervening years. Cross-referencing with other images in our archive suggests the photographer was looking toward High Street, and that the building on the left is the currently occupied by accountancy firm MHA Monahans.

Even if the cottage survived the fire, it subsequently vanished in a road-widening scheme.