Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Milton Dreams - The City That Never Was - Chapter One

Today the whole world knows about Bletchley but to the world Milton Keynes is something of an enigma.

In 1970 Bletchley was a railway station you passed through on the train. Not many trains stopped on the way from Birmingham New Street to London Euston and those trains which did stop had few passengers get off. 

Bletchley ?  Where was Bletchley ? Milton Keynes, however, was something, somewhere some people thought they had heard of.  There were new towns giving homes to the expanding post-war population but Milton Keynes was going to be a new city.  Today Milton Keynes is the city that never was while Bletchley is world famous.

Bletchley 1970, nobody had heard of Bletchley Park but as I got on the train in Birmingham that was where I was heading. Today I am a proud member of West Bletchey Council which includes Bletchley Park  but that day I was a young man hoping beyond hope that I was going to become a student teacher at Milton Keynes College of Education in Bletchley Park.

It hadn't been raining when I left Birmingham but on arrival at Bletchley it was drizzling. With my heart pounding and hoping so much that I would pass the interview to be offered a place at Milton Keynes College of Education I left the train. Leaving the station I had my first view of Bletchley, I looked across Sherwood Drive and tried to get my bearings on the map the college had sent me in the post. My five senses condensed into just one. What was that smell ?  NO, what was that evil stench ! 

Did I really want to attend lectures in this Bletchley wrapped in such a horrible air ?  What was it ?  Did I want to live in the halls of residence at Milton Keynes College of Education and breathe in what ever it was that stank so much ?  The problem was Milton Keynes College of Education was the only college application I had made. In 1970 if you wanted to be a school teacher you had to secure a place at a college of education where you spent three years training to do the job. You had to pass yearly exams and more important pass three teaching practices, fail one and that was the end. These days it is different, a would be teacher has to gain a degree in a chosen  subject then stay on to pass a post graduate certificate in education.

Leaving the station the rain increased, the map I was trying to follow was sodden. So was I. On arrival at Milton Keynes College of Education the Registrar took my suit jacket and draped it over the radiator in her office, at least I was not so much a drowned rat for my interview with Principal Doctor Garwood.

The Registrar of Milton Keynes College of Education in Bletchley Park explained to me that what I could smell was the smoke from the kilns at near by London Brick Company. Because it was raining the clouds and the rain were forcing the smell to the ground. On sunny days the smell was still there but not so strong and and besides I would get used to it. Would I ?  When smog covered Birmingham I did not get used to it, I put up with it. Smog in Birmingham did not come every day of the year just now and then, apparently this sulphur smell from The London Brick Company at one level or another was ever present. If I was offered a place at Milton Keynes College of Education I would just have to put up with it.

As I left to walk back in the rain to Bletchley station the Registrar hinted that I should not worry, I would be offered  a place at Milton Keynes College of Education. She did not say anything more about Bletchley's unique smell.

I was indeed offered a place at Milton Keynes College of Education. For three years I lived in Bletchley Park and became a Bletchley Man. I have tried to remember the postal address of my new home:  Middle Hall  MKCE  Bletchley Park  Bletchley  Buckinghamshire I am sure the post code was BL something or other. It was not MK - Milton Keynes.

In this book I will recall my memories of the new city of Milton Keynes, of the history I lived through and the legends that fascinate me but I am not a Milton Keynes man, I am a Bletchley man.  I have lived in Bletchley since that time all those decades ago when I came to Bletchley Park, I am a member of West Bletchley Council which includes Bletchley Park. Milton Keynes was indeed built but it was never awarded city status, it is just a borough, The City of Milton Keynes is a fading dream. Sadly The London Brick Company is long gone, I will talk more about it in another chapter, and with it Bletchley's unique smell aka stench. Milton Keynes as a new city has become an enigma while Bletchley has international fame. How fortunate I was the day I got on that train from Birmingham New Street to Bletchley the Home of The Codebreaketrs.

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to this one David Graham