Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Milton Dreams - The City That Never Was - Chapter Two


Do you know the song Dirty Old Town ?  As a secret punk rocker my favourite version is by The Pogues. I am actually listening it now as I write these words.

Dirty Old Town. Dirty New City. I actually wrote an article which the local paper published using that title Dirty New City. I guess that would have been around 1975.

When I came to live in Bletchley there was nothing to Milton Keynes beyond a few ideas on a piece of paper. That was what The Milton Keynes Development Corporation called its Strategic Plan.

There really can be no doubt now looking back that The Milton Keynes Development Corporation did an absolutely amazing job but in the 1970 it was not held in high esteem. People went to work without wearing ties !  Yes they did, well the men did. Unheard of. male and female employees alike went to work in jeans. How could you build a new city wearing jeans and not wearing a tie ?  Far too casual.

Why Milton Keynes ? Some said it was from John Milton the poet and John Maynard Keynes the economist but no, the name was taken from a small village within what was called the designated area for the new city. In my last year at teacher training college we students were given a community project to set up a new youth club for the then village of Milton Keynes. The village was in the middle of nowhere, well most places in the designate area were back then. The person who was to be the youth club leader once we had it set up was the wife of Milton Keynes Development Corporation's ecologist. We students were quite amazed that such a post existed, today Milton Keynes could do with one hundred ecologists. Another member of the team was a former farmer. He was not a fan of Milton Keynes Development Corporation which had compulsory purchased his farm. He certainly regarded Milton Keynes as The Dirty New City. He was speaking metaphorically

Speaking literally Milton Keynes was a dirty new city. It was like living on a giant building site. New roads were being set down to establish the grid system. New estates in the south were being built, estates like Tinkers Bridge, Netherfield and Bean Hill. In the north there was Galley Hill. Eventually they would meet in the middle but that was still a long way off.  I say that I came to live in Bletchley from Birmingham but strictly speaking that is not correct, I lived and grew up in The Royal Borough of Sutton Coldfield which has since been swallowed up into Birmingham. The ground, the soil in Birmingham is very different to Milton Keynes, it will absorb water. Milton Keynes is built on the Oxford clay belt. It was that clay which was used at London Brick in its kilns to make bricks. Bricks to build homes not just in the new city but all over the country.

I did not drive a car at the time but people were constantly complaining that they were forever having to wash their cars. You could not walk anywhere near a new road or any construction without getting your shoes and trousers covered in mud. Perhaps that is why staff at Milton Keynes Development Corporation worse jeans !

Dirty Old Town, Dirty New City ?  Well we are not now a new city, we are not a city but we are a dirty old town. Actually scruffy would be a better word.  Milton Keynes Scruffy Old Town !  The mud from the building and construction has gone but..... It angers me so much to see the unacceptable levels of litter which decorate our old town.     Why is this happening ?  The bin men of Milton Keynes are in my opinion the hardest working employees of Milton Keynes Council, if everyone worked as hard as they do Milton Keynes would be Utopia. Just because the City of Milton Keynes became a dream that is not an excuse to make Milton Keynes into a dirty old town.

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