More of Milton Keynes: Building on the Vision

Milton Keynes has been designated one of the four potential growth areas in the south-east of England. There are plans to build up to 70,000 new homes in the city before 2031, and also develop transport infrastructure. Here, Robert Cook examines the history of Milton Keynes so far, and also explores surrounding towns and villages.

This was Bletchley September 2019

History is being made everyday. One could certainly not accuse the North Bucks Town of being stuck in the past.

I have had three books publsihed on the town. My father was a driver for London Brick Company at their Newton Longville Road brickwork- about which I have also written a book. I had my driving lessons and passed my test first time in that town.

So here are a few of the pictures I took around town this month.

Here is a group of everyday locals and shoppers in the town centre. ‘Wilko’ the low cost retailer is very popular.
There are very poor deprived places, with poor job prospects for low skill working class people. But the Criminal Lawyer CDMK is a very successful local business, The majority of people brought before the Criminal Courts are almost exclusively poor working class, with equally poor education from the local comprehensive schools. Most of the acused tend to pead guilty and are funded in their cases by legal aid. Most are found guilty. Their well educated well paid lawyers are from a rather different class..

As a former teacher, I am aware that Britain has low levels of literacy and numeracy compared to the rest of Europe, but has made enormous efforts and committment to what used to be called Personal Social Health Education- as befits diversity.

It is interesting it needs the media and political elite to keep telling working class people what they really voted for when they voted to leave the EU. After the extension of the vote to working men in 1867,, one of the Tory Minsiters, Robert Lowe, said ‘We must now educate our masters.’ And so came the 1870 education Act for compulsory State funded education,
The name Co-op used to be as synonymous with Bletchley as it was with Rochdale where the movement to provide good cheap goods to working people started. Absorbed into the Milton Keynes sprawl, since 1967, this whole ex Co-op block of buildings is now broken up into some interesting little units.
This used to be ‘Stepehenson House’, named after the father and son railway engineering partnership that buit the London Birmingahm Railway, cutting through Bletchley village and puuting it on the Victorian map. Built as an office block, it became surplus to requirements as glitzy new office blocks opened a few miles north in Miltn Keynes City Centre. Developers, aware of spiralling property and rental prices, moved in to create luxury apartments here in the old town centre.
A meat worker carries Halal meant into a specialist Asian shop. This shop is behind the old Co-op shop, where the business had a slaughterhouse. i recall visiting the slaughterhouse during brief employment with Co-op butchers in the late 1960s. horrible place.
The late 1960s shopping centre, built to keep it up with the image of the new Milton Keynes which did not get its own shoping centre until 1979.
Rather surprisingly Bletchley’s public toilets are still open and rufurbished. The toilets in neighbouring Fenny Stratford were sold of for conversion into residene decades ago, while Fenny Stratford’s own little shopping centre decayed. Few people know that a Scottish engineer invented the diesel engine by accident in his little workshop behind where the Co-op used to be in Fenny Stratford.

When the book ‘Building on the Vision’ went into a third edition, the author was invited to a book signing because the Mayor had been photographed holding up the book, thinking it was about praising the development.

The criticism of the way the original vision- for profit rather than meeting needs- was being distorted and built over rather than on, seemed to have been missed, according to author Robert Cook.

About the Author

Robert Cook
facebook https://www.facebook.com/rj.cook.9081 I went to school in Buckinghamshire, where my interests were music ( I was a violinist ), art ( winning county art competitions ) athletics and cross country ( I was a county team athlete ). My father died as a result of an accident- he was an ex soldier and truck driver- when I was 11. It could be said that I grew up in poverty, but I did not see it like that. As a schoolboy, I had my interests, hobbies and bicycle, worked on a farm, delivered news papers, did a lot of training for my sport, painting, and music. I also made model aeroplanes and was in the Air Training Corps, where we had the opportunity to fly an aeroplane. I had wanted to be a pilot, but university made me anti war. At the University of East Anglia-which I also represented in cross country and athletics- I studied economics, economic history, philosophy and sociology. Over the years, I have worked in a variety of manual, office and driving jobs. My first job after univerity was with the Inland Revenue in Havant, near Portsmouth. I left Hampshire to work for the Nitrate Corporation of Chile, then lecturing, teaching and journalism - then back to driving. I play and teach various styles of guitar and used to be a regular folk club performer. I quit that after being violently assaulted in Milton Keynes pub, after singing a song I wrote about how cop got away with killing Ian Tomlinson at G7, in broad daylight and caught on camera. The police took no action, saying taht my assailant had a good job. The pub in question was, and probably still is, popular with off duty police officers.

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