Swindon town centre’s Marks and Spencer will close its doors for the final time today.

The 112-year-old Regent Street branch, which has been a key part of Swindon's high street since 1911, will shut at 5pm on Saturday, October 28, 2023.

Looking around at the heavy atmosphere on the shop floor, it’s clear that the loss is being felt by staff and loyal shoppers alike, who have described the shop as a "Swindon staple throughout history".

Jane Anning, 59, said: “I started working at the store in 1981, age 17, and I remember my first week's wage being £57.24. I thought I was rich.

“It’s so sad to see it go. I have very good memories of my seven years there.”

“I’ve never known in all my life not to have a Marks in the town and I’m 65,” added Swindon local Christine Mckinlay.

“It’s so sad that it’s come to this. I feel so sad for all the older generation who rely on Marks, especially since Sainsbury’s closed. The town is definitely going downhill.”

Other shoppers snapping up last-minute deals on the store’s final day said: “This town has finally died. This shop has survived two world wars, but whatever is happening to the town centre right now has killed it off."

Swindon Advertiser: Swindon loses a staple of its history today.Swindon loses a staple of its history today. (Image: Newsquest)

The closure of the Marks and Spencer store is part of a major shake-up, with 67 stores set to close within five years. This plan will pool resources to hopefully create fewer but better main stores.

However, the closure comes as Swindon’s shopping district has taken a huge hit, recently losing Frankie and Benny’s, Wilko, Sainsbury's, Morrisons, Debenhams, and House of Fraser.

Speaking about the current state of the town centre, deputy leader of Swindon Borough Council councillor Emma Bushell said: “The closure of M&S is a huge blow to the town centre. This is a sad day, firstly for all the employees who have been affected, but also for shoppers who have lost one of the main stores in the centre of town.

“Swindon has suffered in recent years with the closure of major high street chains, but it is a trend we have seen in many towns and cities across the country.

“Our job as a local authority is to do as much as we can to help stimulate investment in the town centre so that high street chains like M&S come back.”

Swindon Advertiser: The shop has survived two world wars, and had several different looks over the years.The shop has survived two world wars, and had several different looks over the years. (Image: Google Maps)

The deputy leader said that cabinet members are speaking to the owners of The Brunel, FI Real Estate Management, to see what can be done on that front.

Cllr Bushell said: “What has been incredibly positive is that a number of independent retailers have invested in the town centre and only a couple of weeks ago, Whitbread opened its first ever multi-million-pound all-electric Premier Inn.

“This is a vote of confidence in Swindon and we need landowners to build on these positive green shoots to deliver a bustling and busy town centre so it becomes an attractive place for shoppers and visitors alike. This will then encourage big name stores like M&S back into our town centre.”

While it’s goodbye to Marks and Spencer’s Regent Street store, other M&S branches in Swindon, such as the Designer Outlet store and the Foodhall in Mannington Retail Park, will remain open.

The large shop in the Swindon Orbital is expected to expand in the near future as the company is working with British Land to invest money into the site.