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Milton Keynes through the decades

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Aerial photograph of Milton Keynes City Centre
Aerial photograph of Milton Keynes City Centre

In celebration of Milton Keynes’ 50th Birthday later this month, let’s take a look at some of the town’s five decades worth of history.

1967 – 1977

  • On the 23rd January 1967, a Designation Order decreed that the new town of Milton Keynes be built on over 20,000 acres of land in North Buckinghamshire in the South East of England. The new town was to incorporate the existing towns of Bletchley, Stony Stratford and Wolverton, as well as other smaller existing villages. Its name was to be taken from an ancient village being encompassed within its boundaries – Milton Keynes Village.
  • In September 1969, the world’s first Open University arrived at Walton Hall and in 1971 accepted its first ever students.
  • Milton Keynes Museum opened in Wolverton in 1973. The museum is run mainly by volunteers.
  • In February 1975 the Milton Keynes Chamber Orchestra (now called Milton Keynes City Orchestra) was founded by Hilary Davan Wetton.
Concrete cows in milton keynes
Milton Keynes’ famous Concrete Cows

1977 – 1987

  • The concrete cows, consisting of three cows and three calves, were created in 1978 by Liz Leyh, a Canadian artist.
  • The centre:mk was officially opened on 25 September 1979 by the then Conservative Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.
  • The Peace Pagoda at North Willen Lake was completed in 1980, and was the first Peace Pagoda to be built in the western world.
  • In 1984 the Living Archive in Wolverton (a living history archive) was established. Campbell Park in Central Milton Keynes opened in the same year.
Peace Pagoda Milton Keynes
Peace Pagoda in Willen Park, Milton Keynes

1987 – 1997

  • The Church of Christ the Cornerstone opened in Central Milton Keynes in 1992. It was the first ecumenical church to be built in the United Kingdom – a place where people of different denominations can worship together.
  • Bletchley Park, home to the codebreakers during World War II, opened to the public in 1993, whilst the National Hockey Stadium opened in 1995.

1997 – 2007

  • Milton Keynes Theatre and Gallery opened in 1999.
  • The Xscape building opened in 2000, with its distinctive design dominating the Milton Keynes skyline.
  • In September 2003, Wimbledon Football Club relocated to Milton Keynes, and in June 2004 the club renamed itself Milton Keynes Dons Football Club (or MK Dons).

2007 – 2017

  • The National Museum of Computing opened at Bletchley Park in 2007, home to a rebuilt Colossus computer (the world’s first electronic computer).
  • Red Bull Racing, based in Tilbrook, took to the streets of Milton Keynes in 2011 when their then drivers, Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, demonstrated their cars. And in 2013 the team won their fourth consecutive Formula One Constructors’ Championship.
  • In 2012 Network Rail opened its new national headquarters on the site where the National Hockey Stadium used to be.
  • The centre:mk was granted Grade II listed status in 2010.
  • In the autumn of 2015, Milton Keynes hosted three Rugby World Cup matches at the Stadium MK.

Happy Birthday Milton Keynes! Here’s to the next 50 years.

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