Friday, 27 January 2017

Five on Friday - MK50

This is something of a record for me 4 blog posts in one week! 
Joining with Amy and  Five on Friday for something completely different to the previous holiday posts. Sadly Milton Keynes is not as attractive as Madeira or as warm and sunny.
But.......

Happy Birthday Milton Keynes!

On the 23rd January 1967 the formal designation of a new town was set out in Parliament.  So this week Milton Keynes, named after one of the existing villages within the designated area, celebrated it's 50th Birthday. There have been a number of events and celebrations this week including a birthday party and cake. It even reached the National news on Monday.
I came to MK for a job never intending to stay but here I am 26 years later and my mother joined me 5 years ago.

Milton Keynes is often the butt of many a joke, usually involving concrete cows and roundabouts. Yes there are concrete cows, a great arts project led by Liz Leyh in the 1970's and many, many roundabouts.
 (Pictures and information about the concrete cows and be found here.)
 For Five on Friday here are five things that I like and enjoy about my adopted home.

1. History



Surprisingly, amidst the many roads, new housing and modern industry there is a lot of history in the area. The Milton Keynes Development Corporation who oversaw the development of the new town, worked hard to preserve and incorporate historic site and buildings into the new town plan.
There are more than 1000 listed buildings in the MK area


 This poster from the celebration exhibition illustrates some of the Grade 1 buildings of "exceptional interest". It includes my local church St. Mary's

St Mary's Church

One of the original farmsteads in the village

The Dower House dating from the 1600's

The grid square where I live was one of the many small villages absorbed by the new town. The historic centre of all the villages have been preserved and conservation areas established to protect them. Planning for these areas is very strict.



2. Green Spaces

A great many parks, lakes, woodland and landscaping was all part of the original plan for MK. The Parks Trust established in 1992, are now responsible for up to 5000 acres of green space. Over 22 million tress have been planted in Milton Keynes and in the drought of 1976 residents were asked to "adopt" a tree to keep it watered and alive. 
There are many lakes which not only serve as nature reserves, they also provide a complex network managing water levels preventing flooding. Two of the larger lakes are also used for recreation with sailing, windsurfing and paddle sports available to residents. Views of my local lake can be found here in a previous post. 
These two green spaces are just a short distance from my home

Field Boundrey of the Conservation area

I pass this area everyday on the way round to visiting my mother and yesterday I noticed the snowdrops that carpet this area are just beginning to peep through.


The beginning of the Woodland area on the next development 

3. Roads and Communication Links

Milton Keynes is famous for its Grid roads and roundabouts. At the last count there were over 130 roundabouts but the number grows all the time. Love them or hate them traffic, flows well through the grid system and although there is some queuing at peak times of the day, it is nothing like the grid lock of many towns and cities. The grid system can be very confusing as the tree lined roads and many roundabouts all start to look alike and there have been times when I have got completely lost! 



Less well know are the miles of paths, redways and bridleways. The redways are pedestrian and cycle routes which are made of red tarmac, hence their name. It is possible to get about the whole of MK by foot or on bicycle without going on any of the main roads. The footbridge seen in the picture above is part of the redway system.



This path leads through the centre of our development to the local shopping centre on the other side of the grid square.

There are also bridleways for horse riders


This bridleway passes the back of my house and I often hear horses cantering by when I'm in the garden, which seems bizzare in a largely urban area. 


4. Art and Sculpture

The Development Corporation had an ambitious public art programme and this has continued since the Council took over several years ago. Many works of art have been created by residents and arts groups in partnership with artists, such as the Concrete Cows. Others have been specially commissioned from leading modern artists.

One of my favourites is The Whisper by Andre Wallace


It sits outside the Central Library and I like to imagine the secrets they are sharing. What are they plotting or are they just gossiping about the people walking past?

I came across this natural sculpture created from a fallen tree when out in my local area yesterday taking photographs.



The details of the hedgehog and leaves were a lovely surprise on a bleak, cold day.

There are many local centres, sports arenas, arts centres, museums and theatres with plenty going on for varied interests, young and old.
(Goodness, I am sounding like an advert for the area).

5. Friendships

In the 26 years I have lived in Milton Keynes I have made many good friends. Perhaps that is a feature of a "New Town" - many people come from lots of different places and are thrown together. Many did not grow up in the area and are a long way from their families so traditional support networks do not always exist. I know some people can find MK isolating and lonely but if you can have the to courage to join a community group I have always found people very friendly and welcoming. I met one of my good friends at the interview for my first job in MK, we hit it off immediately and have been close ever since. Other friendships have developed through work, art groups and the Embroiderers' Guild. 

There are things about MK I do not like such as the increase in littering that has occurred over the last few years; the increased density of housing on some of the newer developments and the abandonment of the grid road system in the new expansion areas. A big mistake that I think will come back to haunt the current planners. 


There are plans to continue celebrating MK50 with lots of events, festivals and activities throughout the year. Any excuse for a party sounds good to me.

Part of the programme of events

Life is never perfect but I enjoy living in my adopted home and wonder what the next 50 years will bring for Milton Keynes?  Do you enjoy the area you live in?

Thank you Amy for hosting Five on Friday. 
















37 comments:

  1. My favourite MK sculpture is Dangerous Liaison by Philip Jackson. It's near the theatre. See it here, if this link works

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    1. I know it well! There are so many great sculptures around MK it is very difficult to choose a favourite.

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  2. It actually looks quite pretty. I love the fallen tree sculpture. Really beautiful. I grew up in the 70s and remember all the jokes/talk about Milton Keynes, but you've shown another side to it!

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    1. I'm pleased to have shown another side to MK!

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  3. I grew up in a new town...Crawley, which also celebrated it's 50th recently. Like MK has it's fair share of roundabouts but plenty of trees and green space. Also in common with MK are the abundance of spring flowers that carpet the grass verges. Can't say I've noticed any wonderful sculpture like that tree, although I live in a nearby village these days.

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    1. The green space is one of the things that was done well in the new towns. I think it makes such a difference to be surrounded by trees.

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  4. How interesting! It looks like a beautiful place to live :)

    I hope you can stop by:

    http://collettaskitchensink.blogspot.com/2017/01/tea-time-report-cards-and-stationary.html

    Colletta

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  5. What a lovely place and an intersting post.
    Wish I could visit M.K.!

    By the way: roundabouts we have a lot here too (I like them), but ways for bikes or horseriders we miss. Outside from downtown it is difficult for bicycling, they make all only for cars (and I haven't)

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    1. The cycle routes or redways here are great and many people use them to get to work or for more leisurely outings at the weekend.

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  6. It seems to me that Milton Keynes is a charming village - no wonder you stayed there! Did you mention the inhabitant number? I grew in a little town but it was not as pretty and friendly as MK. Happy weekend!

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    1. The population is about 260.000 at the moment but is ever increasing and expected to reach 300,000 by 2026. Goodness knows if I will still be here by then!

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  7. I don't think that I have ever been to MK, but I saw a tv program earlier in the week (don't remember what it was!) and they were saying that because of the major roads and the grid you could drive through it and not realise so I might have been there after all! It sounds like a lovely town to live in with much going on and many great aspects to it. All of the footpaths would be a great attraction alone I should think.

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  8. The footpath/redway routes are great for walking and friends often walk round one of the lakes to get their step count up. The smooth surface means I can join them in the wheelchair too, although I'm a fair weather "walker". It's just too chilly at the moment!

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  9. I was very interested in your post. We spent a weekend there many years ago when our daughter was at brownie camp and really enjoyed walking round the paths and exploring. Great fun. Happy 50th MK.

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    1. It has probably changed quite a bit since you were last here. Sometimes I am very surprised with the speed new buildings and houses go up. The paths remain though and are ideal for walks and getting out and about.

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  10. I had no idea how much of the old buildings still are part of MK. Only visited once many years ago. Sounds like I should make another trip. B x

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    1. Many of the old buildings are hidden in the centre of the newer estates but thank goodness they have been protected so can still be enjoyed.

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  11. I wish I could visit MK some day! Such a charming place.
    What a great idea to create the sculptures from fallen tree!
    Happy day to you!

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    1. The tree sculpture was a lovely surprise on my walk but I would like to know who created it. Something I must research.

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  12. I love these old English towns full of old houses and churches, it always seems to me that time stood still. I also love the half timbered houses, it's a very nice place where you live _

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    1. There are many new homes and buildings in MK and I have perhaps given a false impression with my photographs. I am grateful the old buildings have been preserved and can still be enjoyed.

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  13. It sounds to be a well thought out town. I like the idea of all the paths and being able to avoid the roads and I like roundabouts.

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    1. The original planners did have excellent vision and plans that have stood the test of time. Sadly some of the recent expansion zone has not been done to the same principles and is poorer because of it.

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  14. Hi Annie, thanks for visiting my blog. I love the embroidery on your blog header. I've never been to Milton Keynes but I do know that it's a town built recently and I've heard of its many roundabouts! But through your blog post I've learned more interesting facts about it - I really like that there are redways and bridleways for pedestrians and there many green spaces and the local authority is doing its best to preserve and highlight the history and art of the area.
    Sheffield is my adopted home and one of my favourite things about the area is the many trees and green spaces and its close proximity to the Peak District.

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    1. Hi Marion,
      I am originally from West Yorkshire and although I do not know Sheffield well, the few times I have visited liked what I saw. Trees and green space are so important in an urban area. The Peak District is very beautiful too.

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  15. We have spent the last few years looking for a perfect community to join. Your area looks very inviting.

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    1. It has its drawbacks too, but I enjoy living here.

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  16. There's certainly a lot to see in the MK area - and I loved that sculpture. Very glad to hear that a resident gets lost there too, sometimes; I ALWAYS have!

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    1. It is very confusing on the main grid roads as everywhere looks the same, so it is no wonder visitors get lost!

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  17. MK certainly has a lot going for it... and my brother lives there! I still get lost when I visit though x

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    1. Oh what a coincidence?! My brother gets lost every time he comes to see Mum and has to phone for instructions.

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  18. It's lovely to hear positive things about an area that I only know about as an object ... we have a new town here as well - Craigavon which is about the same age as MK - I wonder how many of the residents there would be as positive about it as you are about your adopted home. Thank you so much for sharing this. I adore my adopted area too - probably bore people to death with photos of it!! But there is something about the place you move to, rather than where you come from. Fil

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    1. There are probably quite a few things that annoy me about MK but on balance its not a bad place to live. I wonder how much our contentment with our 'new' homes is to do with friends and the lives we make for ourselves?

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  19. PS I love the Whisper Sculpture :)

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    1. I'd love to know what they are saying!

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  20. Well I live in the same town I grew up in, and have lived here since I was five years old. There are definitely more cultural places to live, but we are trying. We are building a bike trail that is supposed to take us all the way through town at some point. We have moved to the countryside and it's beautiful. I like that your village has saved some of the old structures. They usually have more character than the new structures that go up so quickly. And everyone adopting a tree is a great idea. I'm glad you have pride in the place you live! I enjoyed this post.

    Cindy

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    1. Thank you Cindy, the older buildings are much more attractive than the new houses but I guess the pressure to build so many homes is sadly reflected in the architecture. It must be lovely to live in the same town you grew up in and be surrounded by familiar places.

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