Milton Keynes

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Coordinates: 52°02′N 0°46′W / 52.04°N 0.76°W / 52.04; -0.76

Milton Keynes
MK Montage.jpg
Top to bottom, left to right: The Xscape and Theatre seen from Campbell Park, former railway works and new housing in Wolverton, Milton Keynes Central railway station, the Central Milton Keynes skyline, The Church of Christ the Cornerstone and Bletchley's high street "Queensway".
Milton Keynes is located in Buckinghamshire
Milton Keynes
Milton Keynes
 Milton Keynes shown within Buckinghamshire
Area  89 km2 (34 sq mi)
Population 229,941 [1]
    - Density  2,584 /km2 (6,690 /sq mi)
OS grid reference SP841386
    - London  47.9 mi (77.1 km) 
Unitary authority Borough of Milton Keynes
Ceremonial county Buckinghamshire
Region South East
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town MILTON KEYNES
Postcode district MK1–15
Dialling code 01908
Police Thames Valley
Fire Buckinghamshire
Ambulance South Central
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament Milton Keynes North
Milton Keynes South
Website www.milton-keynes.gov.uk
List of places
UK
England
Buckinghamshire

Milton Keynes (Listeni/ˌmɪltən ˈknz/ mil-tən-KEENZ), sometimes abbreviated M.K., is a large town in Buckinghamshire, England. It is the administrative centre of the Borough of Milton Keynes and was formally designated as a new town on 23 January 1967,[2] with the design brief to become a 'city' in scale. It is located about 45 mi (72 km) north-west of London

At designation, its 89 km2 (34 sq mi) area incorporated the existing towns of Bletchley, Wolverton and Stony Stratford along with another fifteen villages and farmland in between. It took its name from the existing village of Milton Keynes, a few miles east of the planned centre.

At the 2011 census the population of the Milton Keynes urban area, including the adjacent Newport Pagnell and Woburn Sands, was 229,941,[1] and that of the wider borough, which has been a unitary authority independent of Buckinghamshire County Council since 1997, was 248,800,[3] (compared with a population for the Borough equivalent area of around 53,000 for the same area in 1961),[4] with almost all the approx 196,000 population increase since 2001 arising in the urban area.

History[edit]

Birth of a "New City"[edit]

In the 1960s, the British government decided that a further generation of new towns in the south-east of England was needed to relieve housing congestion in London.

Population trend of Borough and Urban Area 1801–2001

Since the 1950s, overspill housing for several London boroughs had been constructed in Bletchley.[5][6][7] Further studies[8][9] in the 1960s identified north Buckinghamshire as a possible site for a large new town, a new city,[10] encompassing the existing towns of Bletchley, Stony Stratford and Wolverton. The New Town (informally, "New City") was to be the biggest yet, with a target population of 250,000,[11] in a 'designated area' of 21,850 acres (34.1 sq mi; 88.4 km2).[12] The name "Milton Keynes" was taken from the existing village of Milton Keynes on the site.[13]

The site was deliberately located equidistant from London, Birmingham, Leicester, Oxford and Cambridge with the intention[14] that it would be self-sustaining and eventually become a major regional centre in its own right. Planning control was taken from elected local authorities and delegated to the Milton Keynes Development Corporation (MKDC).

The Corporation's strongly modernist designs featured regularly in the magazines Architectural Design and the Architects' Journal. MKDC was determined to learn from the mistakes made in the earlier New Towns and revisit the Garden City ideals. They set in place the characteristic grid roads that run between districts, as well as the intensive planting, lakes and parkland that are so evident today. Central Milton Keynes was not intended to be a traditional town centre but a business and shopping district that supplemented the Local Centres in most of the Grid Squares.[13] This non-hierarchical devolved city plan was a departure from the English New Towns tradition and envisaged a wide range of industry and diversity of housing styles and tenures across the city. The largest and almost the last of the British New Towns, Milton Keynes has stood the test of time far better than most, and has proved flexible and adaptable.[15] The radical grid plan was inspired by the work of Californian urban theorist Melvin M. Webber (1921–2006), described by the founding architect of Milton Keynes, Derek Walker, as the "father of the city".[16] Webber thought that telecommunications meant that the old idea of a city as a concentric cluster was out of date and that cities which enabled people to travel around them readily would be the thing of the future achieving "community without propinquity" for residents.[17]

The Government wound up MKDC in 1992, 25 years after the new town was created, transferring control to the Commission for New Towns (CNT) and then finally to English Partnerships, with the planning function returning to local authority control (since 1974 and the Local Government Act 1972, the Borough of Milton Keynes). From 2004 to 2011, a Government quango, the Milton Keynes Partnership, had development control powers to accelerate the growth of Milton Keynes.

Along with many other towns and boroughs, Milton Keynes competed for formal city status in the 2000, 2002 and 2012 competitions, but was not successful. Nevertheless, the term "city" is used by its citizens, local media and bus services to describe itself, perhaps because the term "town" is taken to mean one of the constituent towns. Road signs refer to "Central Milton Keynes" or "Shopping" when directing traffic to the town centre.

Prior history[edit]

The area that was to become Milton Keynes encompassed a landscape that has a rich historic legacy. The area to be developed was largely farmland and undeveloped villages, but with evidence of permanent settlement dating back to the Bronze Age. Before construction began, every area was subject to detailed archaeological investigation: doing so has provided a unique insight into the history of a large sample of the landscape of south-central England. There is evidence of Iron Age, Romano-British, Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-Norman, Medieval and Industrial revolution settlements. Collections[18] of oral history covering the 20th century completes a picture that is described in detail in another article.

Bletchley Park, the site of world War II British codebreaking and Colossus, the world's first programmable electronic digital computer, is within the town boundaries.

When the boundary of Milton Keynes was defined in 1967, some 40,000 people[19] lived in three towns and seven villages in the "designated area" of 21,863 acres (88.48 km2).

Urban design[edit]

The concepts that heavily influenced the design of the town are described in detail in article urban planning – see 'cells' under Planning and aesthetics (referring to grid squares). See also article single-use zoning.

Since the radical plan form and large scale of Milton Keynes attracted international attention, early phases of the town include work by celebrated architects, including Sir Richard MacCormac, Lord Norman Foster, Henning Larsen, Ralph Erskine, John Winter, and Martin Richardson.[20] The Corporation itself attracted talented young architects led by the young and charismatic Derek Walker. Though strongly committed to sleek "Miesian" minimalism inspired by the German/American architect Mies van der Rohe they also developed a strand of contextualism in advance of the wider adoption of commercial Post-Modernism as an architectural style in the 1980s. In the Miesian tradition were the Pineham Sewage Works, which Derek Walker regarded as his finest achievement, and the Shopping Building designed by Stuart Mosscrop and Christopher Woodward, which the Twentieth Century Society inter alia regards as the finest twentieth century retail building in Britain. The contextual tradition that ran alongside it is best exemplified by the Corporation's infill scheme at Cofferidge Close, Stony Stratford, designed by Wayland Tunley, which carefully inserts into a historic stretch of High Street a modern retail facility, offices and car park. The Development Corporation also led an ambitious Public art programme.

The urban design of the town has not been universally praised, however. Francis Tibbalds, president of the Royal Town Planning Institute, described the centre of Milton Keynes as "bland, rigid, sterile, and totally boring."[21]

Grid squares[edit]

Silbury Boulevard in Central Milton Keynes, showing the structure of the road and its environs. Three of these boulevards form the basis of the central area's grid, the other two being Midsummer Boulevard and Avebury Boulevard.

The geography of Milton Keynes – the railway line, Watling Street, Grand Union Canal, M1 motorway – sets up a very strong north-south axis. If you've got to build a city between (them) it is very natural to take a pen and draw the rungs of a ladder. Ten miles by six is the size of this city – 22,000 acres. Do you lay it out like an American city, rigid orthogonal from side to side? Being more sensitive in 1966-7, the designers decided that the grid concept should apply but should be a lazy grid following the flow of land, its valleys, its ebbs and flows. That would be nicer to look at, more economical and efficient to build, and would sit more beautifully as a landscape intervention.

Professor David Lock, MBE[22]

Milton Keynes Development Corporation planned the major road layout according to street hierarchy principles, using a grid pattern of approximately 1 km (0.62 mi) intervals, rather than on the more conventional radial pattern found in older settlements. Major internal roads run between communities, rather than through them: these distributor roads are known locally as grid roads and the spaces between them – the districts – are known as grid squares.[23] Intervals of 1 km (0.62 mi) were chosen so that people would always be within walking distance of a bus stop. Consequently each grid square is a semi-autonomous community, making a unique collective of 100 clearly identifiable neighbourhoods within the overall urban environment. The grid squares have a variety of development styles, ranging from conventional urban development and industrial parks to original rural and modern urban and pseudo-rural developments. Most grid squares have Local Centres, intended as local retail hubs and most with community facilities as well. Originally intended under the Master Plan to sit alongside the Grid Roads, the Local Centres were mostly in fact built embedded in the communities and some are becoming unviable as a result of this and pressure from the new hypermarkets.[citation needed]

Roads and cycleways[edit]

Roundabout junctions were built at intersections because the grid roads were intended to carry large volumes of traffic: this type of junction is efficient at dealing with these volumes. The major roads are dual carriageway, the others are single carriageway. Along one side of each single carriageway grid road there is a (grassed) reservation to permit dualling or additional transport infrastructure at a later date. The edges of each grid square are landscaped and densely planted, some additionally have berms. The purpose of the berms is to reduce traffic noise for adjacent residents, but traffic noise can be significant at many locations even some distance from the grid roads.[citation needed] Traffic movements are fast, with relatively little congestion since there are alternative routes to any particular destination. The national speed limit applies on dual carriageway sections of the grid roads (70 mph (113 km/h)) and most single carriageway grid roads (60 mph (97 km/h)), although some single carriageway speed limits have now been reduced to 40 mph (64 km/h). Consequently the risk to unwary pedestrians and turning traffic is significant, although pedestrians rarely need to cross grid roads at grade, as underpasses exist in several places along each stretch of all of the grid roads. However, the new districts to be added by the expansion plans for Milton Keynes will depart from this model, with less separation and using 'at grade' crossings. Monitoring station data[24] shows that pollution is lower than in other settlements of a similar size. This can be partially attributed to the large number of trees, especially as trees line grid roads in most places.

There is a separate cycleway network (the "redways") that runs through the grid-squares and sometimes runs alongside the grid-road network. This was designed to segregate slow moving cycle and pedestrian traffic from fast moving motor traffic. In practice, it is mainly used for leisure cycling rather than commuting, mainly because the cycle routes include many underpasses beneath the grid-roads and because they take meandering scenic routes rather than straight lines. Despite what appears to be a desirable facility, rates of cycle commuting in Milton Keynes are well below the national average for urban areas. The detailed article includes a critical appraisal.

Height[edit]

The Hub:MK, built between 2006 and 2008. The taller glass tower, Manhattan House, has fourteen stories.

The original design guidance declared that "no building [be] taller than the tallest tree". However, the Milton Keynes Partnership, in its expansion plans for Milton Keynes, believed that Central Milton Keynes (and elsewhere) needed "landmark buildings" and subsequently lifted the height restriction for the area. As a result, high rise buildings have been built in the central business district. Four of the pedestrian underpasses were closed in order to 'normalise' the streetscape of Central Milton Keynes and the character of the area was set to change under government pressure to increase densities of development. These changes are being opposed by pressure groups such as Urban Eden and the Milton Keynes Forum. More recent local plans have protected the existing boulevard framework and underpasses following the dissolution of Milton Keynes Partnership.

Recent large-scale buildings include The Pinnacle:MK on Midsummer Boulevard and the Vizion development on Avebury Boulevard. The Pinnacle was the largest office building to be constructed in Milton Keynes in 25 years. More recently the Network Rail National Centre has been built at the western limit of Silbury Boulevard; this building occupies a large land area but only rises to the equivalent of six stories; a return towards the design of the original Central Milton Keynes developments.

Linear parks[edit]

Caldecotte Lake, Milton Keynes

The flood plains of the Great Ouse and of its tributaries (the Ouzel and some brooks) have been protected as linear parks that run right through Milton Keynes. The Grand Union Canal is another green route (and demonstrates the level geography of the area – there is just one minor lock in its entire 10 mi (16 km) route through from Fenny Stratford to the "Iron Trunk" Aqueduct over the Ouse at Wolverton). The Milton Keynes redway system of cycleways and footpaths uses these and other routes. The Park system was designed by landscape architect Peter Youngman, who also developed landscape precepts for the whole town: groups of grid squares were to be planted with different selections of trees and shrubs in order to give them distinct identities. However the landscaping of parks and of the grid roads was evolved under the leadership of Neil Higson, who from 1977 took over as Chief Landscape Architect and made the original grand but not entirely practical landscape plan more subtle.

A policy of creating "settings, strings, beads" for landscape features was introduced: 'settings' for historic villages and landscape features, 'strings' of landscape to make the linear parks hang together and 'beads' of public space where residents might linger. Higson also made the landscaping of the Grid Roads, one of the features of Milton Keynes, more subtle, with 'windows' cut into the roadside planting so that motorists travelling through had a sense of the major town they were in; early critics had said of Milton Keynes 'there is no there there', as the town could not be seen by the motorist just passing through. Now that the trees and shrubs have matured, the skill and lavish scale of the Grid Road planting makes a dramatic and welcome change from the monotony of many British towns and cities.[citation needed]

"City in the forest"[edit]

The original Development Corporation design concept aimed[16] for a "forest city" and its foresters planted millions of trees from its own nursery in Newlands in the following years. As of 2006, the urban area has 20 million trees. Following the winding up of the Development Corporation the lavish landscapes of the Grid Roads and of the major parks were transferred to The Parks Trust, a charity which is independent from the municipal authority and which was intended to resist pressures to build on the parks over time. The Parks Trust is endowed with a portfolio of commercial properties, the income of which pay for the upkeep of the green spaces, a maintenance model which has attracted international attention.[25]

Further development plans[edit]

One of the new 'city streets', an extension of H7 Chaffron Way, in Broughton Gate. Following a change of policy in 2011 all new development will once again be designed with grid roads, making the few complete city streets like this unique in Milton Keynes.

In January 2004, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott announced[26] the Government's plan to double the population of Milton Keynes by 2026. He appointed English Partnerships (EP) to do so, taking planning controls away from Milton Keynes Borough Council and making EP the statutory planning authority. Their proposal for the next phase of expansion moves away from grid squares to large scale, mixed use, higher density development. The more detailed article expands on the details of their proposals. As the first stage in that plan, the Government expanded[27] the boundaries of the designated area, adding large green-field expansion sites to the east and west that are to be developed by 2015.

In June 2004 Milton Keynes Partnership Committee (MKPC), was created by the Government and was a committee of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), the national housing and regeneration agency for England. MKPC was created to ensure a co-ordinated approach to planning and delivery of growth and development in the ‘new city’.

The Partnership brought together Milton Keynes Council, HCA, Local Strategic Partnership representatives from the health, community and business sectors and independent representation. The role of MKPC was to co-ordinate and implement the delivery of growth and ensure that homes, infrastructure, jobs and community facilities were provided as part of a joined up approach.

The day-to-day activities of MKPC were carried out by its staff of management, professional and technical experts, known collectively as Milton Keynes Partnership (MKP).

Milton Keynes Partnership was disbanded in 2011,[28] holding its last meeting in March of that year. Its functions were folded back into the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), with Milton Keynes Council handling planning permission for established areas of the city.

Culture[edit]

65,000 capacity by the Green Day Bullet in a Bible concert at National Bowl

The open air National Bowl is a 65,000 capacity venue for large scale events.

The 1,400 seat Milton Keynes Theatre opened in 1999. The theatre has an unusual feature: the ceiling can be lowered closing off the third tier (gallery) to create a more intimate space for smaller scale productions. There are further performance spaces in Bletchley, Wolverton, Leadenhall, Shenley Church End, Stantonbury and Walton Hall.

The municipal public art gallery[29] (Milton Keynes Gallery beside the main theatre) presents free exhibitions of international contemporary art.

In Wavendon, on the southeast edge of the town, The Stables[30] provides a venue for jazz, blues, folk, rock, classical, pop and world music. It is closely associated with jazz artists Cleo Laine and the late John Dankworth. The venue also hosts an annual summer camp for young musicians.

Another music venue is The Pitz Club[31] in the Woughton Centre, Leadenhall. It usually features a mixture of punk, alternative rock, and heavy metal. It actually ceased operations as a live music venue around 2010 when the local youth stopped going to the shows there, now it has The Crauford arms, and the Foundry, as well as The Buszy catering to non-mainstream tastes

There are two museums: the Bletchley Park complex, which as well as housing the museum of wartime cryptography, also hosts the National Museum of Computing including a working replica of the Colossus computer, and the Milton Keynes Museum, which includes the Stacey Hill Collection of rural life that existed before the foundation of the new town.

The town also has a literature scene, with groups like Speakeasy[32] meeting regularly and hosting performance events, and the town's only poetry magazine, Monkey Kettle coming out twice a year. In addition, two performance poetry groups exist in the town – Poetry Kapow!,[33] an offshoot of Monkey Kettle though now independent of the parent organisation, specialising in live, multi-discipline, interactive poetry/art/music events, usually featuring slams; and Tongue in Chic,[34] a regular open mic poetry event which features headline poets such as John Hegley. Between them, the two groups supply members of Bardcore,[35] a semi-professional group of 4–6 poets who work collaboratively on performance poetry projects.

In May 2011, the outgoing Mayor, Debbie Brock announced the appointment of Mark Niel as the first official Milton Keynes' Poet Laureate.[36]

In July 2010, Milton Keynes' first independent Central Arts Centre was opened by Radio One DJ Jo Whiley. The centre is regenerated from the disused Central Bus Station and former Chicago Rock Cafe. It is home to the existing "Buszy"[37] Skate Plaza, which is where the name for the regenerated venue has come from. It is managed and operated by Make a Difference[38] a community interest company which in 2011 was awarded a "Big Society" award for their positive activities and opportunities for young people and the wider community. The Buszy is the social enterprise arm of Make a Difference. All profits raised by the cultural activity at the venue are re-invested into Make a Difference. The venue hosts independent cinema, live performance, gigs, art shows/exhibitions, dance activity, a thrift shop, office and conference facilities and the city's only social enterprise hub.

Westbury Arts Centre is situated in the west of Milton Keynes, near Shenley Wood. And is based in a 16th Century grade 2 listed Farmhouse building. The Art Centre has been providing spaces for professional working artist to create work since 1994. The oldest part of the house was built in the sixteenth century and has been greatly extended over the years. It has several acres of garden and is home to several protected species of bats and newts. Including moat.

Liz Leyh's iconic "Concrete Cows"

Milton Keynes also boasts several choirs – the OU Choir, the Milton Keynes Chorale, the New English Singers, the Cornerstone Choir, Quorum,[39] and others, along with a variety of amateur drama groups, and amateur musical theatre groups.

In 1981, the main shopping area in the town centre was used as the filming location for the music video to Cliff Richard's hit Wired for Sound.[40] Milton Keynes Forum[41] is the registered civic society for the town.

Public sculpture[edit]

Public sculpture in Milton Keynes[42] includes work by Philip Jackson, Nicolas Moreton, Ronald Rae and Elisabeth Frink.

Education[edit]

University Centre Milton Keynes.

The Open University's headquarters are based in the Walton Hall district, though as this is a distance learning institution, the only students resident on campus are approximately 200 full-time postgraduates. Cranfield University, an all-postgraduate institution, is in nearby Cranfield, Bedfordshire. Milton Keynes College provides further education up to foundation degree level, however a Postgraduate Certificate in Education[43] course is available; run in partnership with and accredited by Oxford Brookes University.

In 1991 Leicester Polytechnic established a purpose built polytechnic campus in Kents Hill in Milton Keynes, opposite the Open University's Walton Hall site, which was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1992. This was originally branded 'The Polytechnic: Milton Keynes'. Later in 1992 Leicester Polytechnic gained university status and was renamed De Montfort University and the site was rebranded De Montfort University Milton Keynes. However, DMU closed the MK site in 2003 and the Open University has expanded to take over the buildings.

Although the town does not yet have its own conventional local university, its founders hope that the University Campus Milton Keynes will be the seed for a future 'Milton Keynes University'. It is currently the UK's largest population centre without its own university proper.

Like many parts of the UK, the state secondary schools in Milton Keynes are Comprehensive schools, such as Stantonbury Campus and Denbigh School, although schools in the rest of Buckinghamshire still use the Tripartite System. Results are above the national average, though below that of the rest of Buckinghamshire – but the demography of Milton Keynes is also far closer to the national average than is the latter. Access to selective schools is still possible in Milton Keynes as the grammar schools in Buckingham and Aylesbury accept some pupils from within the unitary authority area, with Buckinghamshire County Council operating bus services to ferry pupils to the schools.

Private schools in Milton Keynes include the 3 to 18 mixed sex Webber Independent School[44] and the 2½ to 11 mixed sex Milton Keynes Preparatory School.[45]

The Safety Centre is a purpose-built interactive centre which provides safety education to visiting schools and youth groups via its full-size interactive demonstrations known as Hazard Alley. Another educational organisation is the Milton Keynes City Discovery Centre[46] at Bradwell Abbey, which holds an extensive archive about Milton Keynes. MKCDC is therefore a research facility, as well as offering a broad education programme (with a focus on urban geography and local history) to schools, universities and professionals. MKCDC also holds an annual programme of events at the medieval priory site on which they are based.

Government and infrastructure[edit]

Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) previously had been located in Milton Keynes but moved to Cheltenham in the early 1950s.[47]

Communications and media[edit]

Milton Keynes has two commercial radio stations, Heart Four Counties[48] covering Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Northamptonshire, and MKFM which broadcasts on DAB Digital Radio full-time and on twice-yearly 28 day FM trial broadcasts. BBC Three Counties Radio is the local BBC Radio station, covering Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, but has different programming from the Bow Brickhill transmitter at breakfast. CRMK Online[49] is a voluntary station broadcasting on the Internet.

For television, the area is in the overlap between the Oxford and the Sandy transmitters and so receives BBC Oxford and BBC East, and ITV Central and Anglia. Signal quality is weak in many areas due to distance and "terrain shadow".[50] It was for this reason among others that Milton Keynes had a dedicated Cable TV network from the outset, although it is now ageing and in need of modernisation to cope with the imminent digital TV switchover; many residents have already opted for roof-top aerials and satellite dishes. All homes in the post-designation and/or post expansion areas of Milton Keynes are already on-net cable homes – , although (as of 2013) only in analogue. Milton Keynes is notable for being the only remaining town in the UK to broadcast TV in analogue signals, due to a long dispute between the local cable company Virgin Media and BT. The digital switchover for the Sandy transmitter took place in two phases over March/April 2011.

Milton Keynes has two free-to-residents local newspapers, the Milton Keynes Citizen, which is twice-weekly in some areas, and the MK News, a weekly.

In the early days of land-line broadband, parts of Milton Keynes were so far from BT exchanges as to have a poor or no service.[51] Recent work by BT to enhance its network (including FTTC and FTTP) should see the issue resolved for up to 50% of customers before end of 2013 – but the Eastern & Western Expansion Areas, plus rural exchanges such as Woburn Sands are in the "final third of roll-outs", meaning upgrades there won't occur until around 2017, if at all.[52] There is a frequently updated unofficial fibre rollout guide available from MK Broadband Action Group.[53]

A survey in spring 2011 reported that the performance of the broadband-over-3G mobile service provided to customers in Milton Keynes was the slowest of the towns/cities surveyed.[54] In 2006 Milton Keynes Council planned to roll out a high speed WiMax network; which would allow access to the internet from anywhere with signal coverage in Milton Keynes[55] through a scheme called ConnectMK,[56] and the central area additionally has a free WiFi.[57]

Business[edit]

In November 2012, the Milton Keynes Citizen reported ratings company Experian as describing Milton Keynes as one of the leaders in a prospective economic recovery.[58] The same report quoted the Estate Gazette as placing it first outside the M25 for office property growth.[58]

Milton Keynes is home to several national and international companies, including the UK headquarters of Argos, Domino's Pizza, Marshall Amplification, Mercedes-Benz, Suzuki, Volkswagen AG and Yamaha Kemble.[59]

Sport[edit]

View towards the North Stand as of 9 June 2009 in an England U21 international at stadium mk

Milton Keynes has professional teams in football (Milton Keynes Dons F.C. at Stadium:mk), in ice hockey (Milton Keynes Lightning), and in Formula One (Red Bull Racing). The town hosted professional basketball between 1998–2012 until the Milton Keynes Lions of the British Basketball League were forced to re-locate after the closure of Prestige Homes Arena.

Milton Keynes is also home to the Xscape indoor ski slope, the Airkix indoor sky diving facility, the Formula Fast Indoor Karting centre, and the National Badminton Centre.

The site presently occupied by Network Rail, at the southern end of centre:mk, was formerly the home of the National Hockey Stadium.

Centre[edit]

As a key element of the New Town vision, Milton Keynes has a purpose built centre, with a very large "covered high street" shopping centre, theatre, art gallery, two multiplex cinemas, hotels, business district, ecumenical church, Borough Council offices and central railway station.

Other amenities[edit]

Part of the Blue Lagoon

Original towns and villages[edit]

During World War II, British, Polish and American cryptographers at Bletchley Park broke a large number of Axis codes and ciphers, including the German Enigma machine.
The 1815 windmill near New Bradwell village, beside the playing fields
Stony Stratford high street in festive mood

Milton Keynes consists of many pre-existing towns and villages, as well as new infill developments. The designated area outside the four main towns (Bletchley, Newport Pagnell, Stony Stratford, Wolverton) was largely rural farmland but included many picturesque North Buckinghamshire villages and hamlets: Bradwell village and its Abbey, Broughton, Caldecotte, Fenny Stratford, Great Linford, Loughton, Milton Keynes Village, New Bradwell, Shenley Brook End, Shenley Church End, Simpson, Stantonbury, Tattenhoe, Tongwell, Walton, Water Eaton, Wavendon, Willen, Great and Little Woolstone, Woughton on the Green. The historical settlements have been focal points for the modern development of the new town. Every grid square has historical antecedents, if only in the field names. The more obvious ones are listed below and most have more detailed articles.

Bletchley was first recorded in the 12th century as Blechelai. Its station was a major Victorian junction (the London and North Western Railway with the Oxford-Cambridge Varsity Line), leading to the substantial urban growth in the town in that period. It expanded to absorb the villages of Water Eaton and Fenny Stratford.

Bletchley Park was home to the Government Code and Cypher School during the Second World War. The famous Enigma code was cracked here, and the building housed what was arguably the world's first programmable computer, Colossus. The house is now a museum of war memorabilia, cryptography and computing.

The Benedictine Priory of Bradwell Abbey at Bradwell was of major economic importance in this area of north Buckinghamshire before the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The routes of the medieval trackways (many of which are now Redways or bridleways) converge on the site from some distance. Nowadays there is only a small medieval chapel and a manor house occupying the site.

New Bradwell, to the north of the medieval Bradwell (Abbey) and just across the canal and the railway to the east of Wolverton, was built specifically for railway workers. It has a working windmill, although technically this lies just a few yards outside of the parish boundary. The level bed of the old Wolverton to Newport Pagnell Line ends here and has been converted to a Redway, making it a favourite route for cycling.

Great Linford appears in the Domesday Book as Linforde, and features a church dedicated to Saint Andrew, dating from 1215. Today, the outer buildings of the 17th century manor house form an Arts Centre, and Linford Manor is a prestigious recording studio.

Milton Keynes Village is the original village to which the New Town owes its name. The original village is still evident, with a pleasant thatched pub, village hall, church and traditional housing. The area around the village has reverted to its original name of Middleton, as shown on old maps of the 1700s. The oldest[61] surviving domestic building in the area, a 14th-century manor house, is here.

There has been a market in Stony Stratford since 1194 (by charter of King Richard I). The Rose and Crown Inn at Stratford is reputedly the last place the Princes in the Tower were seen alive.

The manor house of Walton village, Walton Hall, is the headquarters of the Open University and the tiny parish church (deconsecrated) is in its grounds.

The tiny Parish Church (1680) at Willen contains the only unaltered building by the architect and physicist Robert Hooke. Nearby, there is a Buddhist Temple and a Peace Pagoda. The district borders the River Ouzel: there is a large balancing lake here, to capture flash floods before they cause problems downstream on the River Great Ouse. The north basin is a wildlife sanctuary and a favourite of migrating aquatic birds. The south basin is for leisure use, favoured by wind surfers and dinghy sailors. The circuit of the lakes is a favoured "fun run".

The original Wolverton was a medieval settlement just north and west of today's town. The Ridge and Furrow pattern of agriculture can still be seen in the nearby fields and the Saxon (rebuilt in 1819) Church of the Holy Trinity still stands next to the Norman Motte and Bailey site. Modern Wolverton was a 19th-century New Town built to house the workers at the Wolverton railway works (which built engines and carriages for the London and North Western Railway).

Economy, demographics, geography and politics[edit]

Data on the economy, demographics and politics of Milton Keynes are collected at the Borough level and are detailed at Economy of the Borough and Demographics of the Borough. However, since the urban area is predominant in the Borough, it is reasonable to assume that, other than for agriculture, the figures are broadly the same. For the borough as a whole, the service sector (including energy and construction) is the largest, followed by manufacturing (which includes hunting and forestry).

Milton Keynes is one of the more successful (per capita) economies in the South East, with a gross value added per capita index that was 47% higher than the national average (2005 data).[62] Service industries dominate the economy, making it susceptible to economic downturn.

The population is significantly younger than the national averages.[citation needed] According to 2011 census, the ethnic group categories makeup of Milton Keynes Urban Area is: 78.4% White, 8.7% South Asian, 7.5% Black, 3.5% Mixed Race, 1.2% Chinese and 0.7% other.[63]

Marshall valve amplifiers and some speaker cabinets are hand-built in Bletchley, Milton Keynes.

Modern parishes, community councils and districts[edit]

The Borough of Milton Keynes is fully parished. These are the parishes, community councils and the districts they contain, within Milton Keynes itself. For a list of parishes in the Borough, see Borough of Milton Keynes (Rest of the borough)

Closest cities, towns and villages[edit]

Notable people[edit]

Bands[edit]

  • Capdown, the ska punk band, came from and formed in Milton Keynes in 1997.[87]
  • Fellsilent, the metal band, come from and formed in Milton Keynes in 2003.[88]
  • Tesseract, the djent band formed as a full live act in Milton Keynes in 2007. Tesseract's guitarist, songwriter and producer Acle Kahney is also a former member of Fellsilent.
  • Heart Of A Coward, the metal band, formed in Milton Keynes in 2009. Their drummer Christopher "Noddy" Mansbridge is a former member of Fellsilent and former members Timfy James and Ben Marvin went on to form Hacktivist.
  • Hacktivist, the rap metal band, formed in Milton Keynes in 2011.

Transport[edit]

the Grand Union Canal passes over Grafton Street at Bradwell via the modern Bradwell Aqueduct

The Grand Union Canal between London and Birmingham provides a major axis in the design of Milton Keynes.

Milton Keynes is served by five railway stations. Milton Keynes Central is served by inter-city services. Wolverton, Milton Keynes Central and Bletchley stations are on the West Coast Main Line. Fenny Stratford and Bow Brickhill are on the Marston Vale Line. Woburn Sands railway station, also on the Marston Vale line, is just outside the urban area in the small town of Woburn Sands, but is still within the Borough.

The M1 motorway runs east of the town, and is served by junctions 13, 14, and 15A. The A5 road is west of the town. Other main roads are the A509 linking Milton Keynes with Wellingborough and Kettering, and the A421 running west to Buckingham and east to Bedford. Proximity to the M1 has led to a distribution center, Magna Park at the A421/A5130 junction.[89]

Many long-distance coaches stop at the Milton Keynes coachway,[90] (beside M1 Junction 14), some 3.3 mi (5.3 km) from the centre (or 4 mi (6.4 km) from Milton Keynes Central station).[91] There is also a park and ride car park on the site. Regional coaches stop at Milton Keynes Central.

The main bus operator is Arriva Milton Keynes, providing a number of routes which mainly pass through or serve Central Milton Keynes. Milton Keynes is also served by Arriva-branded services from Aylesbury and Luton as well and Stagecoach East which operate routes to Oxford, Cambridge, Stagecoach Midlands which operates routes to Peterborough and Leicester. Some local services are run by independent operators such as Z&S International and Centrebus.

Milton Keynes is served by routes 6 and 51 on the National Cycle Network.

The nearest international airport is London Luton Airport accessible by route VT99 from MK Central station, which runs with wheelchair accessible coaches. There is a direct rail connection to Birmingham International Airport. [Cranfield Airport] is 6 mi (10 km) from the centre. Milton Keynes is allocated an International Air Transport Association airport code of KYN,[92] does not have an airport. Proposals in 1971 for a third London airport at Cublington were rejected.[93]

Twin towns[edit]

Climate[edit]

Milton Keynes experiences an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb) similar to almost all of the United Kingdom. Recorded temperature extremes range from 34.6 °C (94.3 °F)[96] during July 2006, to as low as −20.6 °C (−5.1 °F)[97] on 25 February 1947. More recently the temperature fell to −16.3 °C (2.7 °F)[98] on 20 December 2010

The nearest Met Office weather station is in Woburn,[99] located just outside the south eastern fringe of the Milton Keynes urban area.

Climate data for Woburn 1981–2010 (Weather station 3 mi (5 km) to the SE of Central Milton Keynes)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 7.0
(44.6)
7.4
(45.3)
10.3
(50.5)
13.1
(55.6)
16.6
(61.9)
19.6
(67.3)
22.1
(71.8)
21.9
(71.4)
18.7
(65.7)
14.4
(57.9)
10.0
(50)
7.2
(45)
14.1
(57.4)
Average low °C (°F) 1.3
(34.3)
0.9
(33.6)
2.7
(36.9)
3.8
(38.8)
6.5
(43.7)
9.4
(48.9)
11.7
(53.1)
11.6
(52.9)
9.6
(49.3)
7.0
(44.6)
3.8
(38.8)
1.5
(34.7)
5.8
(42.4)
Precipitation mm (inches) 54.2
(2.134)
41.7
(1.642)
45.3
(1.783)
52.1
(2.051)
54.3
(2.138)
53.2
(2.094)
53.1
(2.091)
55.4
(2.181)
57.5
(2.264)
70.3
(2.768)
63.0
(2.48)
57.3
(2.256)
657.4
(25.882)
Mean monthly sunshine hours 52.0 69.4 105.5 147.4 183.4 179.9 197.1 189.0 137.0 105.6 61.7 43.5 1,471.6
Source: Met Office[100]

See also[edit]

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External links[edit]