HOUNSLOW High Street hasn't always been an embarrassment to residents.

As recently as the 1970s, it was home to a number of smart department stores and historic pubs, harking back to the days when it was part of the stagecoach route to London.

Edmond's, long since replaced by Boots, and Murfitt's, which later became C&A, were just two of the popular stores that attracted thousands of shoppers to the parade.

"The beginning of the 20th century was a great period of civic pride with a new town hall, library and swimming baths just completed," explains historian Andrea Cameron.

"These prestigious buildings made a statement and put Hounslow on the map, but the decline began in the 1970s when the family-run stores started closing.

"More people had cars and they were able to travel to better shopping centres like Kingston and Ealing Broadway.

"When the Treaty Centre was built in 1987, people hoped that would revitalise the town centre but if anything it drew shoppers away from the High Street."

Even pedestrianising the High Street in the mid-90s failed to improve the situation and that was before the sorry saga of the Blenheim Centre.