Milton Keynes

From Academic Kids

' Milton Keynes (pronounced1 ') is a purpose-built, high technology city in the south east of England approximately 50 miles (80km) north of London and mid-way between Oxford and Cambridge. Although legally still a town (since city status in the United Kingdom is only possible through grant of Royal Charter), it was designed to be, and behaves as, a full city. Its administration is through the Borough of Milton Keynes, a unitary authority, of which it is the dominant part. (The Borough contains other towns in addition to Milton Keynes itself.)

Milton Keynes
OS Grid Reference:Template:Gbmappingsmall
Lat/Lon of City Centre:Template:Coor dms NW
(Census data)
(1971)  46,500
(1981)  98,500
(1991) 144,700
(2001) 177,500
Formal status:Town
Borough:Milton Keynes (borough)
Region:South East England
Ceremonial County:Buckinghamshire
Traditional County:Buckinghamshire
Post Office and Telephone
Postcode:MK1 to MK15
Dialling Code:01908



The New City was designated in 1967 and deliberately located roughly equidistant between London, Birmingham, Nottingham, Oxford and Cambridge so that it would be self sustaining and become a major regional centre in its own right. It contains within its boundaries the towns of Bletchley, Wolverton and Stony Stratford and the villages of New Bradwell, Shenley, Loughton, Woughton, Broughton and of course Milton Keynes Village. (See footnote 1 for pronunciations.) Milton Keynes is the largest of the so-called "new towns" built during the 1960s to allow for urban expansion in the southeast of England and is the only "New City". When Milton Keynes was designated, some 60,000 people lived in what is now the Borough. By the 2001 Census, the population had reached 210,000 and is planned to reach 320,000 by 2030.

Design and planning was delegated to the Milton Keynes Development Corporation (Chair: Lord Campbell of Easkan; CEO Fred Lloyd Roche). Their strongly post-modernist designs featured regularly in the magazines Architectural Design and the Architects' Journal. Regrettably, the Government wound up MKDC in the early 80s, transferring control to the very much less imaginative English Partnerships. Design guidance was weakened and subsequent built environment developments are barely distinguishable from the anonymous suburbs of other towns and cities around the UK. Conversely, the "river valleys, water courses and extensive landscape buffers within Milton Keynes provide a good example of how environmental assets can be integrated into new development." (MK&SM Study). Fortunately, the superb organic environment is under control of the Parks Trust  ( and continues to be one of the major attractions to living in the city.

The New City encompassed a landscape that has a rich historic legacy. The CLUTCH Club Milton Keynes site ( holds a collection of archival photos and recorded interviews compiled by residents of the older villages incorporated within Milton Keynes. Larger MK-related historical collections have been created at The Living Archive (, and a broader family of sites and links to archeological studies of Milton Keynes is maintained by the Milton Keynes Heritage Association (, which "exists to encourage and develop co-operation and co-ordination between all members having an interest in heritage within the Milton Keynes district."


The city has a 750 seat theatre/concert hall (, whose high booking rate allows it to lay claim to the title "Britain's most popular theatre". (The theatre has a unusual feature: the third tier (gallery) can be lifted up into the ceiling to create a more intimate space for smaller scale productions.)

Apart from the building itself (exterior surface by Michael Craig-Martin), the city art gallery ( (next to the main theatre) does not have a permanent collection. This allows it to host edgy shows to critical acclaim.

In Wavendon, on the south-east edge of the city, The Stables ( provides a venue for jazz (especially), blues, folk, rock, classical, pop and world music and is closely associated with jazz artists Cleo Laine and John Dankworth. The venue also hosts an annual summer camp for musical kids.

Near Loughton, the open air National Bowl ( is a venue for large scale rock (and classical) concerts. Famous names to have played there include David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Metallica, Bon Jovi, Robbie Williams, Oasis, and Greenday.

Another music venue, very popular with teenagers, is The Pitz ( in Woughton Centre. It usually features a mixture of punk, alternative rock, and heavy metal.

There are two museums, the Bletchley Park museum of wartime cryptography and the Stacey Hill Collection of rural life that existed before the foundation of the city.


The city is home to the UK's largest University, the Open University, though only some post graduate students are resident on campus.

Cranfield University, another postgraduate school, is located just outside the city, in Cranfield.

Milton Keynes College provides Further Education to Foundation Degree level.

Primary, middle, and secondary schools in Milton Keynes are connected to the internet through a mixed wired and wireless broadband network, known as ( that serves over 25,000 pupils in 90 schools (listed on the site and also in an older listing with links to many schools on the UK SchoolsWebDirectory (

Other Amenities

Central Milton Keynes has a huge shopping district with major department stores. It is in the Guinness Book of Records 2001 for having the longest shopping mall, at 720 m long. It also has Europe's largest indoor ski slope, with real snow.

Milton Keynes is home to the National Badminton Centre and the National Hockey Stadium, (which is also the temporary home ground to Milton Keynes Dons F.C., pending completion of a permanent 30,000 seater stadium near Bletchley). There is a Youth Hostel in Bradwell Abbey (near junction of Monks Way (H3) with A5).

The city is a major venue for street skateboarding. There is now a dedicated "urban" skate park ( BMX bowls) next to the bus station.

There is a high security Prison, HMP Woodhill, on the western boundary of the city.

There is an YHA youth hostel in Bradwell village at Template:Oscoor on the Sustrans long distance trail.

Urban design: Layout of the New City

The city's layout was planned on a grid pattern of approximately 1 km interval, rather than the more conventional spider-web pattern seen elsewhere in older settlements. Consequently each grid square is semi-autonomous, making a unique collective of 100 urban spaces within the overall city milieu. The grid squares have a variety of development styles, ranging from normal urban development and industrial parks, to original rural and modern pseudo rural developments.

Although these roads have conventional names such as Portway and Saxon Street, their original planning designations have stuck and locals are more comfortable with the shorthand "H5" and "V7" (where V is vertical or north/south and H is horizontal or east/west).

The road that goes through the city centre, Midsummer Boulevard, is named because it is aligned so that the sun shines directly along it on midsummer each year.

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 the city. The Grand Union Canal is another green route (and demonstrates the level topology of the city - there is just one minor lock in its entire 10 mile route through from Fenny Stratford to the Iron Trunk Aqueduct at Wolverton.

The concepts that heavily influenced the design of the city are described in detail in article Urban planning - see especially "cells" under Planning and aesthetics; but see also article Single-use zoning.

Cycling and walking

Milton Keynes has a 200km network of paths for pedestrians and cyclists called Redways, generally surfaced with red tarmac, which criss-cross the whole city. The majority of these Redways run next to the grid roads and local roads with underpasses or bridges where they intersect major roads. Others run through park land and along the flood plain of the Great Ouse and its tributaries. One of the aims of the Redways is to make travel for pedestrians and cyclists convenient, safe, pleasant and accident free, and this has broadly been achieved. However, the secluded routes of many of these redways has made some of them no-go areas after dark. Additionally, many longer-distance cycle commuters prefer to use the grid roads since much of the Redway system appears to have been designed for local leisure use.

The national SUSTRANS ( cycle network runs to and through the city. The Swans Way long distance path does the same.

Historical towns and villages that are now part of Milton Keynes

Bancroft Park

The foundations of a Romano-British farm are to be seen in what is now the North Loughton Park, overlooking the Shenley Brook. This part of the brook is part of the flood control system and there is a permanent wetland that is home to water creatures, notably Odonata (dragon flies and damsel flies).

Bradwell Abbey and Bradwell Village

The Benedictine Priory 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 converge on the site from some distance (many of which are now Redways or bridleways). Nowadays, there is only a small medieval chapel and a manor house occupying the site. The house is the base for the City Discovery Centre and provides a meeting point for various societies such Astronomy and Natural History.

The West Coast Main Line (railway line) now splits the abbey from the later hamlet.


The present day name of Bletchley is Anglo Saxon and means Blęcca's wood. It was first recorded in manorial rolls in the 12th century as Blechelai. The town was a major Victorian railway junction (the London and North Western Railway with the Oxford-Cambridge line), leading to the huge urban growth in the town in that period. It expanded to absorb the villages of Water Eaton and Fenny Stratford. (See also Bletchley railway station).

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


Broughton was a tiny hamlet on the old Northampton to London turnpike, joining Watling Street at Fenny Stratford. It is near Junction 14 of the M1.

Fenny Stratford

The name Fenny Stratford is an Anglo Saxon expression meaning "marshy ford on a Roman road". The Roman road in this case is the Watling Street. There are traces of the Roman settlement Magiovinium on the edge of the present day occupation. The town was recorded in manorial rolls in 1252 as Fenni Stratford, though previously it was just known as Stratford: the prefix being added to distinguish the town from nearby Stony Stratford.

The town grew in the canal era, when the Grand Union Canal came through. The lock at Fenny Stratford steps up a whole foot. The next lock northwards is at Cosgrove in Northamptonshire, just north of Wolverton.

With the coming of the railway, Fenny declined and was swept up by the minor hamlet to the east, Bletchley, which grew to be a brash railway town. There is still a small railway station here.

Great Linford

Written as Great Linford to distinguish it from the even tinier Little Linford, the village is another on the Grand Union Canal. It appears in the Domesday Book as Linforde. Today, the manor house is an Arts Centre.


The present day name of Loughton is Anglo Saxon in origin, and means 'Luhha's estate'. In the Domesday Book of 1086 the village was recorded as Lochintone. The village is in the linear park and hosts the National Badminton training centre and a major equestrian facility.

Milton Keynes Village

This is the original village to which the New City owes its name. The original village is still evident, with a pleasant thatched pub and traditional housing. The area around the village has reverted to its original name of Middleton, as shown on old maps of the 1700s.

New Bradwell

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. Its grid pattern is echoed (on a far larger scale) by the new city. It has a working windmill. The level bed of the old tramway from Newport Pagnell to Wolverton ends here and has been converted to a redway, making it a favourite route for cycling.

Shenley Brook End, Shenley Church End, Shenley Lodge and Shenley Wood

This group of villages are on the west side of Watling Street opposite Loughton and were originally part of the larger settlement recorded in the Domesday Book as Senelai.


Simpson is a small hamlet on the old Northampton to London turnpike (via Watling Street at Fenny Stratford near by) and on the Grand Union Canal. It was recorded in the Domesday Book as Siwinestone.


Little if anything remains of the orignal village that was Stantonbury. Today it is better known for its collegiate secondary school, Stantonbury Campus.

Stony Stratford

The generic town name Stratford is Anglo Saxon in origin, and means 'ford on a Roman road'. The Roman road in this sense is the Watling Street that runs through the middle of the town. The ford is the crossing of the river Ouse. The prefix Stony refers to the stones on the bed of the ford, differentiating the town from nearby Fenny Stratford.

There has been a market in Stony Stratford since 1194 (by charter of King Richard I).

Two hotels in the centre of town, The Cock and The Bull were originally coaching inns on the main London to Chester and North Wales turnpike (Watling Street). Travellers gossip and rumour was exchanged at the two and was renowned for being far-fetched and fanciful. This is believed to be the origin of the Cock and Bull Story.

Today Stony Stratford is a busy market town on the northern edge of Milton Keynes, and is considered by many to be quite picturesque.


Just a few farm houses remained of Tattenhoe village before the land was built upon. Nearby and just outside the city boundary, the foundations of the Benedictine Priory at Snelshall can still be seen. The Priory was a brother house to that at Bradwell.


Walton, Milton Keynes is listed in the Domesday Book as Waletone. Today, the Manor house, Walton Hall, is the headquarters of the Open University and the tiny parish church (deconsecrated) is in its grounds. It is on the banks of the river Ouzel, a tributary of the Great Ouse, where there a disused balancing lake has been naturalised and is home to reeds, bulrushes, reed warbler, reed bunting, water rail, sparrowhawk, kestrel, green woodpecker, grass snake and many varieties of odonata. Surrounding the reedbed are ponds and open water, ancient hedgerows and hay meadow.


The name Willen is probably from Anglo-saxon or old English meaning (at the) 'willows': the River Ouzel meanders through land ideal for willows. Today, there is a large balancing lake to capure flash floods before they cause problems down stream on the Great Ouse. The north basin is a wild-life sanctuary and a favourite of migrating acquatic 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 tiny Parish Church (1680) at Willen contains the only unaltered building by the architect and physicist Robert Hooke still in existence and is a classic of the early English Baroque period.

Nearby, there is a Buddhist Temple and a large stupa (known locally as the Peace Pagoda), built in 1980 by the Monks and Nuns of the Nipponzan Myohoji and was the first to be built in the western hemisphere.

Finally, overlooking the lake, Willen Hospice provides specialist care for people whose illness no longer responds to curative treatment (also known as specialist palliative care).


The town name Wolverton is Anglo Saxon in origin, and means 'Wulfhere's estate'. It was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Wluerintone. The original Wolverton was a medieval settlement just north and west of today's town. This site is now known as Old Wolverton, although the medieval village is all but gone. The Ridge and Furrow pattern of agriculture can still be seen in the nearby fields and the Church of the Holy Trinity still occupies the Norman Motte and Bailey site. The newer area built for the railways in the 19th century assumed the Wolverton name when, in the 19th century became a town of some importance for the national rail network as carriages and engines for trains were constructed here. See also Wolverton railway station.

Wolverton is separated from New Bradwell by the Grand Union Canal and the West Coast (railway) Line. Just north of Wolverton, the Iron Trunk Aqueduct carries the Grand Union Canal over the Great Ouse: this was considered a substantial engineering feat for the day and indeed the first attempt collapsed into the river.

The Woolstones

The twin villages of Great Woolstone and Little Woolstone are centrally located in the new city, yet retain much of their rural charm. They are listed in the Domesday Book as Wlsiestone, an Anglo-saxon word meaning "Wulfsige's farm". The Grand Union Canal runs alongside: the village pub was built to relieve the navvies of their wages and retains many original features.

Woughton on the Green

In the Domesday Book, Woughton on the Green was recorded as Ulchetone. This is an Anglo Saxon name, which means Eoca's Farm. The village had gained its more modern name by the mid 12th century when the manor was recorded as belonging to the Verley family. Over the years, the pronunciation altered to "Wufton". The village was originally just called "Woughton": the suffix was added in the Victorian era to distinguish the village from other nearby places with the same name. On the Green refers to the large grassy area that lies in the centre of the village: the traditional village green. The Grand Union Canal runs alongside.

Milton Keynes in popular culture

  • Milton Keynes is parodied as "Milton Springsteen: It's Quite Nice, Really!" in Alexei Sayle's book Train To Hell. Rather than concrete cows, Milton Springsteen features "android yokels."
  • Milton Keynes also appears in Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's book Good Omens, as an example of a town neither heaven nor hell take credit for, but both regard as a success: "it was built to be modern, efficient, healthy, and, all in all, a pleasant place to live. Many Britons find this amusing."
  • The British Comedian Bill Bailey makes reference to Milton Keynes in his stand up show Part Troll, calling the city "Satan's Layby".
  • The humourist Miles Kington once had a book cover cartoon with the caption "Miles Kington? I thought that was one of these dreadful new towns" — not simply an observation that his name resembles a place name, but almost certainly also a reference to Milton Keynes.
  • The UK TV and radio personality Noel Edmonds is credited with tainting the image of Milton Keynes in the 1970s by repeatedly deriding it as a concrete jungle and the natural home of the famous Concrete Cows. The council was quick to point out that Milton Keynes has over 20 million trees. The Concrete Cows are among the earliest examples of conceptual art.
  • The Travel Writer Bill Bryson also features Milton Keynes in his book Notes From A Small Island, in which he gets lost in the pedestrian subway system.
  • The city is notable for its number of roundabouts. Their number is far higher than is typical in British towns: for example, within the city limits, the A421 route passes through 13 roundabouts in a 10.7 km stretch, and the A509 route passes through 12 roundabouts in a 6.4 km stretch. On the other hand, the use of traffic lights is minimal.
  • Marshall Amplifiers and speakers, much loved by rock and heavy metal bands, is based in Bletchley. It produced the amplifier with a volume dial that went up to 11, for the spoof 'rockumentary' This is Spinal Tap.
  • Contrary to (allegedly) popular misconception, Milton Keynes was not named after the poet John Milton nor the economists Milton Friedman and John Maynard Keynes(indeed "Keynes" in the latter is pronounced "kay", not "key"), but after a village that already existed on the site of the proposed New City. The village was renamed Middleton in 1991, to distinguish it from the larger city.



Milton Keynes has five stations —



M1 Northbound: J14 for city centre and north, J13 for south city (Open University and Bletchley).

M1 Southbound: J15A (via A45 then A5) for north city (Stony Stratford and Wolverton); J14 for city centre and south city.

Also A5 and A509

East/West A421 (centre and south city), A422 (north city).


The nearest [50 km] international airport is at Luton, but there is only an hourly coach service from 06:00 to 21:00 from Milton Keynes Central station. This airport is mainly used by low cost airlines, notably Easyjet and Ryanair. The other London airports Heathrow, Gatwick and (especially) Stansted can be rather painful to reach by public transport if you are unfamiliar with local British transport idiosyncracies.

Birmingham airport [100 km] is more mainstream, with frequent rail connections from Birmingham International to Milton Keynes Central.

There is an aerodrome ( at Cranfield [10 km].


The Grand Union Canal runs through the city.

Nearby settlements

External links


Note 1: Pronunciation varies according to the speaker. The RP pronunciation of Milton Keynes is mill-tun keens, of Shenley is shen-li, of Loughton is lau-tun, of Woughton is wuf-tun, and of Broughton is broe-tun. Note that these are not the only local pronunciations - many local speakers of Estuary English drop the "t" when not at the beginning of a word or a syllable, generally replacing it with a glottal stop (as in Cockney). Likewise an "l" that is not the first letter of a word is either voiced as a "w" or dropped entirely, thus Milton Keynes becomes "miw'un keens"; Loughton, "Lau'un"; Wolverton, "Wauwver'un" and Broughton, "Brow'un".de:Milton Keynes eo:Milton Keynes nl:Milton Keynes no:Milton Keynes sv:Milton Keynes


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