History

Take a step back in time with all things historical from the local area

22nd Feb 2024

How the days of the plague struck Milton Keynes

‘Bring out your dead’ was the chilling call Sammy Jones takes a look at the dark days of the plague and how it struck hard in this area... The Covid pandemic was traumatic, divisive and incredibly difficult to navigate, and that was despite all of the modern day tools at our disposal, and the supposed ease of information dissemination. But with no quick means of sharing information, no real understanding of how it was spread, and a one in three prognosis of death, the plagues which devastated communities centuries ago would have been utterly terrifying. Being bled with leeches was a common treatment, but certainly didn’t help symptoms, and while children were encouraged to smoke to keep the sickness at bay, as we now know, that only creates its own issues. 1666 wasn't only a stand-out year in the history books for the Great Fire of London. It was also..

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07th Nov 2023

A towering success

This month we take a look at one of the new city's biggest successes – a firm that is reaching dizzying heights in every sense of the word, and a business that has left its mark here at the Museum. We discovered more about the Niftylift story from its chairman and founder, Roger Bowden. Niftylift is one of Europe’s largest mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) manufacturers and while the business is anchored in these parts, it operates worldwide. “We specialise in compact, low-weight articulating booms that offer maximum performance with minimal environmental impact,” Roger says, explaining his business in relatively simple terms. The name ‘Nifty’ has synonyms including ‘particularly good, skilful, or effective” and ‘attractive and stylish’ – which all perfectly sum up what Roger wants to achieve with every lift the company designs: “Combining the two names seemed the perfect solution,” Roger recalled. 2013 Queens..

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17th Oct 2023

Centre:mk to host art, culture & business exhibition celebrating Black History Month

The biggest Exhibition in Milton Keynes’ history showcasing art, culture, organisations and businesses from Milton Keynes’ black community is back on 21st-22nd October in Middleton Hall, centre:mk. The free 2-day event, organised by CIC World Media Initiatives, charities STaSS, African Diaspora Foundation and Making Good Better will host over 100 exhibitors and will be opened by the Mayor of Milton Keynes at 10am on Saturday 21st October. The exhibition, which is in it’s second year at centre:mk, is set to be bigger and better than ever before with special guests from Hip hop artists ‘So Solid Crew’, performances from Adanta Dance Troupe, UNIKA dance events, as well as a specially created fashion show for the event. In addition, the exhibition will bring together talented artists and businesses who are doing some amazing work in the city, yet up until now, have been relatively unknown. The two-day event organised by Nana..

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13th Oct 2023

‘We do what we love, and we love what we do…...

Main Image: Fireworks light the sky in Milton Keynes pic: Gill Prince The Emmett name is synonymous with entertainment in Milton Keynes. Over the decades they have delighted hundreds of 1000s of people with their events, and there’s every chance that you are among that number. Sammy Jones spoke with Keith Emmett III to learn more about the family's impressive history. As a new city, and a new town before that, Milton Keynes doesn’t have too much in the way of ‘modern’ history – we’re still busily establishing things that will become traditions. But one thing that is already anchored is an annual event that sees thousands of people flock to the heart of Milton Keynes to watch the skies above illuminated in spectacular style. The firework display has been ‘a thing’ here for more than four decades, and the same family has been at the helm for every one..

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07th Sep 2023

The return of Heritage Open Days

This September, Milton Keynes will once again mark Heritage Open Days with dozens of events taking place over 10 activity packed days. 2023 is the 17th annual HoD being held here, and it has grown considerably since making its debut in 2006 – back then we had just 15 events to choose from! Heritage Open Days is an opportunity to engage with a wealth of activities for children and families, spanning exhibitions and workshops, walks and tours, open days and craft events and performances. And at a time when the purse strings are being tightened more than ever before, it’s a delight to be able to say that every event can be enjoyed for free! The full programme can be found at heritageopendays.org.uk but here we share some of the enticing events - and there are others listed in our What’s On pages. Dig deep and enjoy. Friday, September 8..

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10th Aug 2023

Unwrap the history of creativity in Milton Keynes’ parks

Heritage Open Days set to uncover the creativity hidden within the picturesque parklands of Milton Keynes. The Parks Trust are excited to announce a series of Guided Walk & Talk events which will an exciting glimpse into MK’s innovative landscape design, wildlife conservation, and the fascinating historical narratives within the city's green spaces. Enthusiasts of art, history, and nature alike are invited to join Parks Trust experts to unveil the intricate tapestry of Milton Keynes' Parks. From woodland ridges to vibrant wildflower meadows, attendees will learn about the delicate art of managing these landscapes and the balance of nature and modern amenities, including the integration of public art. Events will take place in Campbell Park, Floodplain Forest Nature Reserve, Ouse Valley, North Loughton Valley and Stanton Low between 8th and 14thSeptember. Plus, on Saturday 16th September, Great Linford Manor Park Celebration Day promises fun for all the family. From heritage..

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08th Aug 2023

Keep calm and attend Milton Keynes Museum’s 1940s Weekend! 2 & 3 September

You definitely don't want to keep mum about the next big event at Milton Keynes Museum – the return of the hugely popular 1940s weekend is happening on September 2 & 3, and the Museum is promising no rationing of entertainment at the big bash which offers something for all ages. With the country involved in conflict for half the decade, times were tough, but that just made everyone even more keen to find enjoyment where they could – and music played its part in raising spirits. Big players back then included Glenn Miller and Bing Crosby, and the Museum has its own ace singer bringing the tunes over the weekend; Miss Lola Lamour will get the dance floor jumping with her engaging style. Over in the bandstand, Johnny Victory will be in tune too, so there's plenty of opportunity to go with the flow and show off your fancy footwork. There..

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26th Jun 2023

Hello Summer – Hello Museums

Milton Keynes Museum With school out, finding ways to keep the little ‘uns entertained for six whole weeks can feel a bit overwhelming. Thankfully, Milton Keynes Museum is on hand to make things easy for you, and fun for them! On July 15, the Museum will mark its 50-year anniversary with a special celebration party, and then between July 24 and September 1 the Wolverton-based history hub will be offering additional activities to take attention. All the usual attractions will be open as usual of course; start your visit with a look inside the Victorian farmhouse, play on music machines from the era, make hot buttered toast in the parlour, see what the role of a servant entailed and look back on more than a century of toys. Then stroll through the Street of Shops with its many original facades from stores that once served residents of Stony Stratford, Newport..

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19th Jun 2023

The old history behind the new city

We love peeking into the past and sharing the secrets and stories of our local history, but this month, we thought we would shine a light on all that the Museum has to offer.  It's a constantly expanding collection and the only one that tells the complete history of the place we all call home... Yes, Milton Keynes is a new city, but the space it occupies is rich in history – and here at Milton Keynes Museum, we have been sharing that history for 50 years. When you enter the Museum you do so through the front door, but in Victorian times only important visitors were afforded that privilege! As we have explored in the past, Stacey Bushes Farm was bought by Oxford's Dr Radcliffe, but that farmhouse has long-since disappeared and the farmstead..

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10th Mar 2023

Six local walks to put a ‘Spring’ in your step this March

Milton Keynes may now FINALLY be a city, but it is absolutely littered with beautiful countryside trails. As we (hopefully!) approach the warmer, clearer weather, check out MK Pulse’s handy guide to six-of-the-best local walks, courtesy of the AllTrails App, to try out this Spring. Trail One – Ampthill and Mauldon Circular The first trail takes you through the gentle rolling landscape of the Bedfordshire Hills, providing superb views of the countryside throughout. The circular walk starts from the ruins of Houghton House, said to be the inspiration for House Beautiful in John Bunyan's ‘The Pilgrim's Progress.’ This 8.5km trail is generally considered to be an easy route, taking an average of 2 hours and 28 minutes to complete. The walk itself has several steady but long climbs and descents throughout and there is one stile and several kissing gates. The paths are a mixture of tarmac/concrete lanes and field..

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08th Aug 2022

Free tickets available for Willen Hospice historic documentary film screening at MK Gallery

Thanks to a £10,000 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Willen Hospice, in partnership with Living Archive MK, have created a special documentary film to commemorate 40 years of caring in Milton Keynes. Limited free tickets are now available for the exclusive screening event which will take place during Heritage Open Days at The Sky Room cinema, MK Gallery on Tuesday 13th September 5pm – 7pm. The film, entitled ‘Willen Hospice Caring for MK since 1981’ will look back over the past 40 years, from when the Hospice first opened its doors in the early 80s. The film celebrates how a community came together to make the dream of a local Hospice into a reality, and how it has grown to become one of Milton Keynes’ best-loved charities, helping countless families over the years. From nurses to fundraisers – the documentary will capture the stories of the people who..

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02nd Apr 2022

Willen Hospice invites you to take a trip down memory lane

Willen Hospice invite you to take a trip down memory lane on Saturday April 23rd as they collect material for a historic documentary film.   Willen Hospice and Living Archive MK are inviting members of the public to a ‘Down Memory Lane’ event to reminisce and share memories of the role Willen Hospice has played in the lives of people of Milton Keynes.  The informal event, which will take place at Willen Pavilion on 23rd April from 10am to 2pm, will gather stories and information from members of the public to feed into the development of a documentary film which Willen Hospice is developing in partnership with Living Archive MK following a £10,000 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. The project, called ‘Willen Hospice Caring for MK since 1981’ will look back over the past 40 years, from when the Hospice first opened its doors in the early 80s. This..

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11th Sep 2021

‘MK knows how to rock ‘n’ roll – this show proves it...

A new exhibition currently on display at Milton Keynes Museum is turning up the volume at the Wolverton-based history hub – by exploring the history of music in the new town. Milton Keynes – Wired For Sound' is a companion show to the book by the same name, from the pen of Pulse features writer Sammy Jones.   The collection of t-shirts, flyers, posters and various pieces of music memorabilia is a chance to step back in time and relive some of the greatest musical moments in the town's history. And there are more than you might think: “That was really the purpose of the book,” said Sammy, “There were so many great stories and anecdotes that needed to be recorded, and of course we've hosted some of the biggest artists from the world of rock and..

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25th Aug 2021

Celebrating the sounds of Milton Keynes

A new exhibition launching at Milton Keynes Museum this week puts the town's rich musical heritage firmly in the spotlight. The feast of photographs, records and memorabilia spans the artists that live here and frequent our local venues, through to the world-famous performers who have wowed on the National Bowl stage. There is also a look at the musical releases created at Linford Manor, which welcomed guests including Biffy Clyro, PJ Harvey and Jamiroquai during its time as a residential studio. “Milton Keynes has such a rich musical heritage, and this show definitely proves it,” said Sammy Jones, author and owner of the Milton Keynes Music Archive, WFS. “It is a real trip down memory lane, and an opportunity for people to reacquaint themselves with our brilliantly creative past.” Marshall Amplification is one of the biggest names in music,..

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22nd Aug 2021

“I shan’t stop in the army after the war, it’s not good enough...

There are no winners in war, only stories of lives lost and chaos wreaked that are too numerous to count. But in WWI people were proud to sign up to do their bit. They were fighting for King and Country, and besides, the fighting was expected to be all done by Christmas. In Milton Keynes, one young man's story is a poignant reminder of the tragedies faced, as Sammy Jones explains... On June 22, 1899, Edward and Mary French welcomed a son, Albert Edward Mortlock French. He was born in Stantonbury, and spent his early life in New Bradwell. By the time of the 1911 census Albert was living at 60 Young Street in Wolverton with his father, sister May, and younger brothers William and George. Sadly, Albert's mother, who married Edward when she was 23 years old, had passed away..

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