Milton Keynes

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Milton Keynes Loudspeaker.png listen (info • help) is a large new town in ceremonial Buckinghamshire, England. People began to build houses, shops and factories there in 1967. More and more houses are built every year. There are about 275,000 people living there now.

Milton Keynes looks strange to people from other towns. Aeroplanes flying over ordinary towns can see roads that look like a spider's web. But when they fly over the city, they see that its big roads look like a net or a grid. The people who live in Milton Keynes call the spaces between the busy roads grid squares and that is where they live. Nobody lives right next to the big roads, so there are no trucks going past the front door of people who live there. So really, Milton Keynes often seems more like a 100 little villages than a big city.

People do not have to cross a busy road to get from one grid square to the next one, because the roads go over bridges and people can cross safely under them. The paths that go under the roads and between the houses are called Redways because they are red in color. Only people on bicycles and people walking are allowed to use them. Cars, lorries and motorbikes are not allowed to go on them. So people could cycle all the way across the city and never have to go on a busy road.

What was it like before the builders came?[change | edit source]

The windmill near Bradwell village, beside the playing fields

Before the builders came, there were many fields and a lot of villages. People can still see the old villages because the houses look different. There are many rivers and streams and lakes and a canal. There are no houses on the fields beside the rivers. Nobody can build on these fields because sometimes they get flooded when it rains a lot. But nearly all the time, they are just monster parks.

When the builders dug up the ground to build on, they found some strange things. The oldest was the fossil of a dinosaur fish, called an Ichthyosaur. They also found a Roman farm - people can still see bits of it because they decided to leave it alone. They also found some buried treasure and gave it to the museum.

What is there to do?[change | edit source]

There is one big theatre and four small ones. There are only two cinemas but each one has ten sections, so there are twenty movies on at a time. There is a ski slope with real snow, even in summer. That is because it is indoors, with a giant fridge to keep it cold. There are four big swimming pools. At the National Bowl, people can see their favourite bands and artists. Not very far away, at Silverstone, they see Formula 1 motor racing. There is a football stadium, where they can see the local football club, Milton Keynes Dons F.C., play. They can see barges going past on the canal. Near the station, there is a covered skateboard place. There is also Planet Ice where there is leisure skating available and the MK Lightening ice hockey team plays. This is also where they train figure skaters and ice dancers at national competition level. Professional skater, Vicky Ogden who has skated internationally and nationally for Great Britain for over 12 years is the head coach.

Roundabouts[change | edit source]

The internal road system of Milton Keynes follows the American style of grid roads. Major East-West roads are numbered from H1 (in the North) to H10. Such roads have names ending in "Way". North-South roads are number V1 (in the West) to V11 and will have names ending in "Street". Leading into the communal blocks from these arterial are usually named ending "Gate". Internal to the blocks, main link roads are often "Drive" or "Boulevard". Most of the H & V roads have a national speed limit imposed resulting in 60 MPH for single carriageway and 70MPH for dual carriageway - thus Traffic passing through Milton Keynes can traverse one side to the other in a relatively short time. The grid road system has been criticised however as, counter-intuitively, it makes for difficult public transport planning.

The Grid pattern results in many roundabouts at every H & V intersection. They are used predominantly to assert priority to junctions and aid smooth traffic flow. In some areas they are also augmented with traffic lights and some controversy exists that they are not all part-time, leading to queuing traffic when it is not justified.

The roundabouts have become a feature of urban understanding whenever Milton Keynes is mentioned.

Concrete Cows[change | edit source]

Liz Leyh's "Concrete Cows"

The Concrete Cows are an art installation by the American artist Elizabeth Leyh. The installation was intended as a commentary on town growth along the lines of "the fields are now concrete, here are some cows to match".

Although initially intended as a dystopian statement, the cows have now become adopted as the town mascot and feature on designs for local organisations, enjoying, somewhat, official status. The pre-occupation of the rest of the nation with the cows is largely lost as the surrounding area and much of Milton Keynes itself, is rural and real cows can be seen nearby. The cows and the prevalence of roundabouts (born of the grid road system) have become rather bore-ish, standing jokes and probably the two items spoken of when Milton Keynes is mentioned - such people can rarely mention a third thing they have heard about Milton Keynes.

The cows are regularly the subject of vandalism - some more creative than others and in 2012 the cows were all painted to appear as skeletons by a local guerrilla artist in readiness for Halloween. This effort was more artistic than most and generally well received with many people voicing a wish (in the local newspaper) that the council not repaint the cows. No decision has been made yet.

The cows in the field to the north of Monks Way near the junction with Erica Road are a copy - it being deemed that an artwork left to the ravages of the weather and vandals was not acceptable. The originals set has been split with members appearing in the main shopping centre, the MK Stadium in Bletchley and the council offices.

Where is it?[change | edit source]

It is in England. It is about half way between Oxford and Cambridge. It is about half way between London and Birmingham. They can get here on the train because we have five railway stations - the biggest one is Milton Keynes Central. They can come on the M1 motorway - get off at Junction 14. It takes less than an hour to get here in the train from London, maybe half an hour if they take an express train.

Other websites[change | edit source]