Buildings

All Quiet on the North Bucks Front


Lodge Plugs factoryThe Lodge Plugs WW2 shadow factory, Olney.

Folks, I'm taking a break from the Wanderer. I'll be back next week but there are quite a few posts in the planning stage, with research and/or pictures to be finished. In the meantime, here's a few photos from the archives of the Monday Photo. Please click on the links if you want to learn more about the photos.

Continue reading "All Quiet on the North Bucks Front" »

If you have any comments or questions about this post, please leave a comment below.
If you liked this post and want to find out more about the North Bucks area, please
Subscribe


Cracks in the Chancel

Chancel cracks  St Thomas  SimpsonThe vertical crack is on the edge of a blocked up North window. A supporting column for the tower arches is in the left foreground.

St Thomas’s church in Simpson, Milton Keynes, has a subsidence problem. Worrying cracks in the chancel walls have been monitored for some time, but on Thursday last week the problem was found to have got much worse.

The stability of the chancel is of such concern that nobody is allowed to enter, though the rest of the church is sound and a wedding last Saturday was allowed to go ahead.

Continue reading "Cracks in the Chancel" »

If you have any comments or questions about this post, please leave a comment below.
If you liked this post and want to find out more about the North Bucks area, please
Subscribe


High Water in Bucks

Canal pumphouse  Horton Wharf  BucksThe pump house at Horton Wharf is set back from the canal, and built on to the bridge causeway. It has a large window on the right hand end, (not visible here) twice the size of the door in this side. It has the usual hipped roof.

The Northern Engines Part 2

The nine Northern engines were placed along the Grand Junction canal between the River Ouse valley at Old Wolverton and the canal summit at Bulbourne, near Tring.

These steam powered water pumps returned water to the summit, which had an inadequate water supply.

Going South you rise up a total of almost 112 feet through the many locks; apart from a few miles through Bedfordshire, that stretch of the canal is all in North Bucks. I told you more about the Northern Engines and their pump houses last week in part one.

Continue reading "High Water in Bucks" »

If you have any comments or questions about this post, please leave a comment below.
If you liked this post and want to find out more about the North Bucks area, please
Subscribe


Pumping Iron

Canal pumphouse at Fenny Stratford  BucksThe pump house at Fenny Stratford has a rounded corner, probably to give clearance for horses working on the towpath. The windows and doors have flat brick arches rather than the semi-circular arches found on the other pump houses.

The Northern Engines Part 1

From the Iron Trunk aqueduct over the Great Ouse at Old Wolverton, the canal through North Bucks rises 111 feet and 11 inches on its way South to Tring Summit.

Every time one of the many locks on this stretch is used, tons of water move to the next level down and is lost; it's always a problem for canals.

At Tring Summit the Grand Junction Canal Company found only a few very small streams, not enough to keep the canal supplied. To get water, the canal company built the Wendover Arm, a branch canal, along the base of the Chilterns to pick up water from the streams that emerge there.

But once the canal opened over the summit in 1800, the company found that their water supplies were barely adequate.

Reservoirs were built and wells were sunk but the company struggled to get enough water. The Wendover arm had been leaking for years despite many repairs. It would eventually be stopped up but more had to be done.

Continue reading "Pumping Iron" »

If you have any comments or questions about this post, please leave a comment below.
If you liked this post and want to find out more about the North Bucks area, please
Subscribe


Whose Barn? Down’s Barn!

The original Down's Barn

The Monday Photo

Until recently, I hadn’t visited this barn in decades. Back then in the mid 80s, the big doors were either wide open or missing and I don’t remember there being much else around it. Either way, this is where Milton Keynes’ Downs Barn estate got its name.

Down’s Barn wasn’t just a barn, but was several buildings ranged on three sides of a rectangle on the slope of a hill. This barn, the only building now remaining, marked the uphill edge of the rectangle.

The barns appear on an 1834 map, but the earliest record I could find of them being called Down’s Barn is on maps published around 1900. On the 1834 map there are also two similar clusters of buildings about half a mile away to the South.

These three clusters of farm buildings are all marked as “Barns” on the earlier map while farms are specifically named.

I think it’s quite likely that the farm buildings known as Down’s Barn were once a farmyard complete with farm house, but when the land was sold to another farmer they just became some more or less useful buildings away on a hill; I expect the other clusters could tell a similar tale.

Even maps from the 1950s show buildings on three sides of the farmhouse, but by the time I got there they were, as far as I remember, long gone.

The map from around 1900 seems to indicate that some of the buildings had open fronts; used to store equipment. Perhaps this made them less durable.

On the same map the nearest cluster is now called Manor Farm, a name it kept at least until the mid 1950s.

I did remember that Down’s Barn was high up on a steep hill and  the land sloped away to the Southeast to what’s now Campbell Park; the H5 (Portway) had not then been built. The land also slopes away to the Northwest and Northeast.

The farmyard, if that’s what it was, extended about a third of the way down what’s now an all weather playing surface; the barn is now a sports pavilion. The hedge behind the barn and another behind the camera were already there when Milton Keynes came along.

Why don’t you go and take a look? See if you can imagine what it once was like, when from this spot you could see the Grand Union Canal at the bottom of the hill, Moulsoe across the Ouzel Valley and to the North, Newport Pagnell.

I used a Sony A6000 and zoom lens for this photo.

I make a small percentage from sales through Amazon links, no matter what you buy while you visit their site from here. This helps me but costs you nothing, so if you make a purchase via the NBW, thank you.

If you have any comments or questions about this post, please leave a comment below.
If you liked this post and want to find out more about the North Bucks area, please
Subscribe


Lending Back

Rear of Central Milton Keynes library

The Monday Photo

Many of you will know this building well, but not from this angle.

From today’s photo you might think it’s some sort of research establishment and you’d almost be right. You might also think it’s set in park land, but you’d almost be wrong.

This is the rear of the Central Milton Keynes library, just across Silbury Boulevard from the shopping centre.

Buildings and car parks surround the library, though there’s a small piece of park land too, at the back. The library has many sources; maps, books, leaflets with information that is just not available online, and that’s where research comes in.

I go there when my own books or the internet can’t tell me what I need to know for a post on the NBW.

The library was finished in 1981, but the building has never been completed. The plan had been to greatly enlarge it, to provide a museum and Civic offices. This plain and functional looking rear wall would have been in the middle of the finished complex.

Nothing came of the museum, but MK council’s Civic offices were built on the next block along instead of here.

There’s a single story plant room, visible in the photo; you can see a double door facing the camera. If the extension plans had gone ahead this plant room would have been inside the completed complex; instead it remains separate.

The library has been a Grade 2 listed building since 2015, but the plant room is not included in the listing.

The building is a bit odd inside, though you may not have realised. There are huge spaces or voids in the library, there to vary ceiling heights.

At one time they were not at all accessible, and when all the libraries in the district had new fire alarm systems installed, this library had to wait until access ways were installed.

Next time you are in Central Milton Keynes, why don’t you take a look at this building? Have a look round the back, too. See if you can imagine what it would have looked like complete.

I used a Sony A6000 and zoom lens for this photo.

I make a small percentage from sales through Amazon links, no matter what you buy while you visit their site from here. This helps me but costs you nothing, so if you make a purchase via the NBW, thank you.

If you have any comments or questions about this post, please leave a comment below.
If you liked this post and want to find out more about the North Bucks area, please
Subscribe