IN 1971 many a newspaper was preoccupied with the growing problem of drug abuse among the young.

The Adver was no exception, and in the second week of March illustrated a story about the issue in a typical style for the era, with a syringe superimposed on a sinister, shadowed face and that of a victim.

Our story was an interview with Dick Birch, Swindon’s educational psychologist, and readers expecting a doom-laden piece were to be disappointed.

Admittedly, we seem to have tried our best on the doom front by asking him about the likely implications of the M4’s impending completion and a speedy road connection to London.

Mr Birch conceded: “I think that with completion of the M4 there are possibilities that Swindon will become more exposed to the drug problem.

“With the opening up of communications, it may become more of a commercial proposition from the pusher’s point of view.”

The rest of the article had a completely different tone, with Mr Birch offering some much-needed common sense.

His advice to parents who found evidence that their children were dabbling?

“Don’t start an inquisition. A child is more likely to be influenced by persuasion and reason than by condemnation.”

Mr Birch continued: “So far as Swindon is concerned, it would be very easy to say that because some people are worrying about drugs, there is a problem. I just don’t think this is true.”

Work on the M4 had begun about a decade earlier, and would be completed in the final days of 1971 when the section linking Junction 15 at Swindon with Junction 9 at Maidenhead was opened.

The Adver tended to record each new development on the local sections, and this week 48 years ago saw us send a photographer to the Swindon-Baydon road at Foxhill, near Wanborough.

We duly captured one of the first images of a tunnel which at the time went beneath precisely nothing but which would soon have six lanes of traffic hurtling above it and has done ever since. Vehicles were first allowed through the following day.

The 70mph road link between London and South Wales wasn’t the only thing taking shape at the time.

A Coate a striking roofline which remains largely unchanged today seemed to herald an injection of sophistication and glamour.

“The management team of Swindon’s £750,000 luxury Post House Hotel gave a Press preview yesterday in preparation for the opening early in June,” we said.

“The 103-bedroomed Post House, the 13th hotel of this type to be opened by Trust Houses in Britain, is designed to offer a variety of services.

“It is a motor-hotel for businessmen and family commuters, a pub for casual drinkers, a snack bar for passers-by and a gourmet restaurant for diners.

“It can also be used for banquets and conferences, and any one of its bedrooms can be converted quickly into small ‘seminar rooms.’ There is a heated outdoor swimming pool, complete with diving board.”

Newly-appointed manager George Edmond, who had trained in London and Switzerland, headed a 100-strong team which included 24 young women described as hostesses, who would be given a crash course in housekeeping, reception, restaurant and bar work.

We added: “Their air hostess-style uniforms are designed by Mary Quant and they will be ‘quick, intelligent and interested in doing a wide variety of jobs,’ said Mr Edmond.”

Still instantly recognisable from the photograph taken nearly half a century ago, the hotel is now a Holiday Inn.

Not all of the newer parts of Swindon were as trouble-free.

Another job for our photographer involved capturing an image of two women, Elma Proffitt and Carolyn Taylor, peering unhappily into what looked like a shallow swamp decorated with an old plank and what appeared to be a discarded Christmas tree.

The location was Covingham, and residents were threatening drastic action over the state of what was supposed to be a healthy green space.

“Householders in Covingham,” we said, “are threatening to stop rate payments if drainage work on a nearby playing field is not finished soon.”

At the time, Covingham was under the authority of Highworth Rural Council, and residents said workers had begun digging in Covingham Park after Christmas, only to stop work and leave after three weeks.

Carolyn Taylor told us: “My house faces the field and I am tired of getting mud thrown at my windows and into the garden. I don’t see why they’ve left it in this state.

“We think we ought to tell them rates won’t be paid until the work is done.”

Like many local mothers, Mrs Taylor said she was also sick of her children being unable to play outside without ending up coated in mud and bringing it inside.