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.
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.
For Five on Friday here are five things that I like and enjoy about my adopted home.
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
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.
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).
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.