THE 1970s were a time of flux in Swindon, as they were in so many other major British communities.

The very fabric of the town was changing, with the Swindon we know today beginning to replace the one that had been familiar since at least the turn of the 20th Century.

Architecturally, the fashion for public buildings and town centres was away from traditional high streets and toward gleaming new expanses of concrete, glass and Perspex.

Swindon, like plenty of other towns and cities, saw its centre undergo radical changes.

For much of the decade, it was possible for shoppers to watch the piecemeal demolition of the past and its replacement by the future.

Buildings that fell (or rather, were torn down) by the wayside included the old market and the Baptist Taberbacle.

The destruction of the latter in 1977 is sometimes cited even now as a swing too far of the wrecking ball.

On March 28, 1973, with Slade's Cum On Feel The Noize at the top of the charts, Ted Heath in Downing Street and Richard Nixon in the White House, thousands of Swindon people gathered for the official opening of the first part of the Brunel Centre development. It was the first of several such ceremonies as the development and the decade progressed. In May of the following year, the building project that replaced the Victorian Swindon Station with its current incarnation was completed. The David Murray John Tower, named for the late town clerk credited with the founding of modern Swindon, was completed at the beginning of 1976, and remains the county's tallest building at 500 feet. The programme of development extended to the arts. The Wyvern Theatre opened on September 6, 1971, with a performance featuring the Ukrainian Dance Company. The new auditorium was part of the Theatre Square development, which was in turn planned as the centrepiece of an exciting new cultural district including a library and concert hall among other delights. As we all know now, these predictions were somewhat optimistic. The changes were not confined to the architecture, though. If the 1960s had been the decade of social upheaval, the 1970s were surely the decade of industrial upheaval. By the late 1980s and early 1990s, Swindon was to be fully established in its new incarnation as a place for high-tech employers to headquarter themselves. Aided by the reputation of the town's workforce for dynamism and willingness to adapt, it was a spectacular rebirth, and the labour pains began in the 1970s. The days of heavy industry and heavy engineering were numbered, and even the Railway Works felt the pinch. Without the sterling work of legendary boss Harry Roberts, the works would undoubtedly have closed during the 1970s instead of in 1986, when the axe actually fell. Another major Swindon employer was Garrard's, whose hi-fi turntables were excellent enough to earn the company Queen's Awards for Industry in 1966 and 1970, not to mention a permanent place in Swindon's collective memory. Almost 2,000 people were employed there, but recession, rising costs and industrial action were enough to whittle this figure down to the low hundreds. The company limped as far as 1982 before the gates closed for good.