Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Looking down on Regent Circus in the 1950s



With the 19th century Town Hall and the temporary library buildings in the foreground, Regent Circus is almost unrecognisable in this 1950s photograph.

Fletcher's Directory of Swindon records doctors J. Holland, W.O. Connell and T. Quigley in practise at 37 Regent Street while solicitors Pooley, Booth & Anderson were at number 34. There were four greengrocers and three butchers including Eastmans, J.W. Read and Hunt & Sons among the many shops since replaced by 1960s office blocks.

In December 2010 Meca, a 2,000 capacity live entertainment venue, opened in the former Regent cinema built in 1929. Renamed the Gaumont in the 50s and the Odeon in the 60s, the building later became the Top Rank Bingo Club.

Rudi's Bar, the art deco building on the corner, opened as the Corporation Electricity Showrooms in the 1930s. Home to the children's library it later became the Islington Furnishing Company.

Although shops to the right of the Victoria Road traffic island are sill recognisable, housing between Byron Street and the bottom of Eastcott Hill was demolished in the 1960s to make way for Swindon College, itself now awaiting demolition.

An area today occupied by the Wyvern Theatre was once a complex of terraced housing called Regent Place, built in around 1900. In 1946 Grace and Richard Loveridge lived at number 17, approximately where the Wyvern stage door stands today.

The distinctive dome of the Wesleyan Methodist Central Mission Hall is visible above the Clarence Street rooftops. Closed in the 1970s the building was seriously damaged by fire in 1977 and demolished in 1985 to make way for yet another new office block.




Photograph of Regent Circus courtesy of www.flickr.com/photos/swindonlocal

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