THERE ARE MORE LEGENDS PER SQUARE MILE IN MILTON KEYNES THAN CAN BE FOUND IN ANY OTHER TOWN< CITY OR VILLAGE IN BRITAIN
· Signs and roundabouts – Someone once joked that Milton Keynes was a place of signs and wonders. There were signs pointing everywhere and everyone wondered where they were actually pointing to.
Where each V road intersected with an H road there was a roundabout, at one time with a smile it was said that there were three hundred and sixty-five roundabouts, one for each day of the year. I think, somehow, that is just a legend with the tiniest possible grain of truth.
Approaching a roundabout the first set of signs told the driver the local/immediate directions while the second set gave more distant directions.
Milton Keynes did not so much have signs and wonders, it still has within its grid system a wonderful set of signs. No other location anywhere in the country manages its traffic flow as does Milton Keynes.
· Major’s Hill – A forgotten landmark and a well forgotten legend. Walk up Buckingham Road in West Bletchley, walk from Newton Road to Holne Chase and you are walking up Major’s Hill. Once upon a time everyone living in the area called this Major’s Hill, today I doubt anyone knows it as this. One of the houses on Buckingham Road, shortly after World War One, was
· The Red Kites of Windmill Hill – And here is a legend in the making.
West Bletchley adorns its sky with beautiful Red Kites, the envy of other areas in Milton Keynes. Across the word its population is decreasing but not in Bletchley, Milton Keynes.
The birds nest in trees on Windmill Hill Golf Course. There is a song from Peru: El condor pasa – when the condor bird flies overhead everyone stops to watch. When the red kite flies overhead the golfers stop playing to watch.
Sharing that thought with the golf club I think I raised a smile. The Red Kites of Windmill Hill, a Milton Keynes legend in the making.
· The Satellite – Today our society could not live without satellite communication but wind back to 1962 and Telstar became the world’s first communication satellite. The British pop group The Tornados had a hit record with Telstar. Bletchley, pre Milton Keynes, marked this scientific landmark with the pub on Whaddon Way being named The Satellite.
When it closed as a pub it became a Morrissons Local, my son was the manager. Today it is a Co-op and a good little shop serving our community. However, we must not allow its original identity to be lost, this is an important part of Milton Keynes heritage. I twice wrote to the Co-op suggesting a sign be put on the wall of the shop explaining this but sadly both of my letters were ignored !
This sculpture was erected outside one of the first buildings in Central Milton Keynes, Lloyds Court. Lloyds as in Lloyds Bank which had a black horse as its logo.
Personally I seldom visit Central Milton Keynes these days, preferring to shop locally but a visit to stand and look at this piece of art is reason enough to make the trip. When Central Milton Keynes was farmland I wonder how many horses worked there. Perhaps we should allow this particular sculpture to be their heritage.
The Three Trees – watering hole for the codebreakers – In the early days of Milton Keynes it was called The Plough. In F W Winterbotham’s book The Ultra Secret it was known as The Three Trees. In his book he explains this was a favourite watering holes for the codebreakers.
Pubs right across the country come and go, these days they go far more than they come but, in a new building and resuming its former name The Three Trees in West Bletchley is alive an well.
That alone gives Milton Keynes an icon and legend to be proud of BUT there is more. In 2019 The Three Trees was named Pub Of The Year. I am sure the codebreakers would be proud. We Mkeneyans of today need to be proud.
· Video Killed The Radio Star – Did it ? Something killed it and radio was not all it killed. Local media all the way across the country is far from what it once was. Fading from memory perhaps but early Milton Keynes had some very special radio, video and newspaper.
Horizon Radio complete with its Black Thunder was the envy of all. When Bill West and Jerry Alder reportage their homes to set up West Alder Media and give us the Milton Keynes Citizen with free delivery of the newspaper to every home in the new city its motto was Just A Friend Dropping In. Forget BBC and ITV Milton Keynes had its own community television station – Channel 40.
Sadly no more, video has killed the media star but their legend remains.
· Queen Boudica – If you want to find Queen Boudica where would you look ? Adjacent to
Within my book Not The Concrete Cows and revisited in Milton Dreams The City That Never Was I share in some detail the legend of Queen Boudica of The Iceni.
Running across the top of Stony Stratford in North Milton Keyes you will find Queen Eleanor Street. This is, so legend tells us, there was once a cross.
Within my book Not The Concrete Cows, written in the early 1990’s I put forward a suggestion that replica cross should be erected to remind people of the legend. The idea was never taken up but it is not too late to do so.
· Cock and Bull Story – Remaining in Stony Stratford we have the nursery rhyme Ride A Cock Horse to Banbury Cross. That horse comes from the Stony Stratford coaching inn The Cock Inn. Just down the road is The Bull Inn. A cock and bull story is something quite ridiculous. Legend has it that something would be said in The Cock Inn where it would be wrapped in alcohol before spreading down the road with more alcohol to become a cock and bull story. The expression is known all over the world but it originated in Milton Keynes.
· Stevenson and Brunel – Stephenson gave us the railway through Milton Keynes. Isambard Kingdom Brunel had nothing to do with it. But if you know where to look within our new city you will find his name. In actual fact it is a bit of a folly but one which is fast becoming forgotten. The shopping centre in Bletchley is The Brunel Centre names after Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The area outside the centre adjacent to what was once the Milton Keynes Co-op department store is Stephenson Square.
Original planning was to have replica engines placed there on a dais but it never happened. Never happened but the legend remains.
· London Milton Keynes Airport – Have you flown out of London Heathrow Airport ? What about London Gatwick ? London’s third airport Stanstead ? Stanstead the airport that nearly wasn’t. We nearly had London Milton Keynes. Travel south on the train and as you passed by the southern edge of what was the designated area for the new city of Milton Keynes you would have seen giant protesting banners alongside the track: NO AIRPORT HERE. The thinking was to build London’s third airport on an old RAF site at Cubblington near Wing. Although there was huge opposition this was the most logical place to site the airport.
Writing a series of local press items which were included in Not The Concrete Cows I interviewed many of the protesters, indeed within the book there is a large chapter which I conclude by saying had the airport come Milton Keynes would have just become a service hamlet at the end of the runway. How fortunate we are that NO AIRPORT HERE won the day.