Local history

Cross country in Milton Keynes

Old Simpson Road  Beanhill(7) The gap in the hedge is where the old footpath ran, and I don't think this gap has ever stopped being used. There’s a ditch to cross and a length of the old hedge between fields is still in place; the footpath ran alongside the hedge. The cyclist is heading towards Simpson.

The Half Lost Footpaths
Part 2

Two footpaths converged on bridge 89 of the Grand Union canal before Milton Keynes came, and a surprising amount of their routes can still be found.

Since I published Part One, it’s now been explained to me that footpaths across the fields often follow drainage ditches. The ditches ensure the path is well drained and passable on nearly every day of the year.

That’s certainly true for the footpaths on this post’s map, on the wet ground Milton Keynes is built on; just look at all those ponds on the map.

Lost footpath map  Milton KeynesThe footpath routes in about 1900, with photo locations and some modern roads added. If you’ve ever wondered about a strange feature of your local area, or just wondered what was there in the past, online maps like this one (which I’ve modified) from the National Library of Scotland may well be able to tell you.
(Below) the map key.
Map key 2

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Lost Footpaths of Milton Keynes

Canal bridge 89  Milton Keynes(16) The canal bridge. This is the view just before you cross into Woughton on the Green; if you’ve come along either footpath you’d be nearly at your destination.
The bridge isn't on this post's map, but is on the map in part 2.

The Half Lost Footpaths
Part 1

(Edited, with photo numbers added to text and drainage ditches etc added to map)
This is an accommodation bridge, built so that fields and minor routes were not cut off by the canal. When built it was at the edge of a village, but now it’s in the middle of Milton Keynes.

This is bridge 89 over the Grand Union canal, and it’s near the pair of roundabouts where Marlborough Street (V8) and Standing Way (H8) meet.

Now it just provides access between the Peartree Bridge and Woughton on the Green housing estates, but before Milton Keynes there were two trackways or paths that met at the bridge.

These routes, marked as footpaths on 1950s maps, were both lost with the building of the new town. But parts still exist and can be found today.

Mostly these footpaths followed field boundaries, so it’s likely they date from just after the enclosure act was signed for Woughton on the Green in 1768. Hedges still in existence make them a little easier to follow today.

Lost footpath map  BletchleyThe route in about 1900, but showing the photo locations and some modern roads. By the way, if you’ve ever wondered about a strange feature of your local area, or just wondered what was there before all the houses were built, the National Library of Scotland’s online maps like this one may well be able to tell you.
Drainage ditches, ponds, and wells have now been added to this map; I now understand there's a relationship between the routes of footpaths and the routes of drainage ditches, see part 2.

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Back on the Bike

Typepad is having technical problems after moving to a new server which means I cannot upload photos, so I am republishing posts from the NBW archives. This Photo is from August 2019, but it's a story of my early life from about 1962.

Boy on a Tricycle

Boy on a Tricycle  Summer 1962Summer 1962 in Church Street. Left is aunt Peggy's eldest, my cousin Jayne. Right is my brother Alan. I’m in the middle, on that tricycle. I was three.

My previous post about the MK Heritage Open Days for historical places in North Bucks reminded me about my life in Winslow, when I was a boy. At first we lived in Church Street, close to the Brownie and Guide Hall; it’s one of the Winslow buildings that’s having an open day.

Church Street is a cul-de-sac that rises quite sharply up to the churchyard. Cars were not often seen there in the early 1960s, so I was allowed to play in the street. I had a tricycle, and this is what I did with it…

I laboriously pedalled the tricycle up the slope. At the top I turned the little machine around and began to pedal downhill. I was soon moving at great speed, steering slightly left all the way down to follow the curve of the narrow street.

The end of my run, the much bigger Horn Street, came into view. I made ready for my last manouvre; it was coming up quickly now and I didn’t want to shoot across Horn Street at the bottom.

At the last moment I swerved skilfully left on to the footpath and came to a halt. I turned the tricycle around, and started back up the slope.

Our kitchen window didn’t look out on to Church Street, so Mum couldn’t see me as I shot past. But Aunt Peggy’s kitchen window looked out on to the street. She saw me hurtle past, and went straight round to knock on our front door. Mum opened the door.

“Vera, he’s doing it again” said Peggy. Mum came out straight away and confiscated my tricycle. I wept and promised to reform and never to do it again, and pleaded to keep the lovely machine. Still she took it away.

When my toddler brother Alan later asked me where the tricycle was I just tersely said, “It’s gone”. So he was surprised and pleased a few days later to spot it in the corner of our unused top floor bedroom.

He was up there helping Mum to hang up clothes for drying. He pointed at the tricycle again and again and tried to tell her he had found it, but was puzzled because Mum just didn't seem to see it there.

Eventually I got the tricycle back, but it wasn't too long before temptation struck again and I began to make my way to the top of the slope for another run.

You’ll not be surprised to know that I later became a biker.

Church Street  Winslow  Summer 1961Around Summer 1960. Too young then to ride a tricycle with pedals, but you can see how steep Church Street is.

Church Street  Winslow  Summer 2019Here’s Church Street now. The nearest window is much smaller, front doors have been moved, and what used to be old boxed in thatched roofs are now tiled. The building on the right has been extended.

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A General in Peacetime

Bletchley war memorialThe Bletchley war memorial (not to be confused with the Old Bletchley war memorial) is on what’s now The Queensway, Bletchley, in front of the Knowles School.

By Guest writer John Taylor.

This is part two of three. I posted part one three weeks ago; A Naval Man in Buckinghamshire, and Part two, A Retired General in World War 2 just last week.

It was June 1946; World War 2 had ended just ten months earlier. Lieutenant General Harold Blount of the Royal Marines had fought in WW1 with honours and retired aged 57, a few months before WW2 broke out.

Blount used his military experience and commanded A Company of Bletchley’s Home Guard throughout the war, but now there was peace.

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A Retired General in WW2

Bletchley's old police station and courthouseThe nearest part of this range, with the three upstairs windows, was the old Bletchley Police Station. Here were the headquarters of A Company, Bletchley Home Guard.

By Guest writer John Taylor (Not John O'Hara as previously stated; sorry John Taylor)

This is part two of three. Part one was two weeks ago; A Naval Man in Buckinghamshire.

It was 1939. In September, six months after General Harold Blount had retired, war with Germany had been declared. Harold Blount was then sharing Woughton House in Woughton on the Green with his brother Oswald.

Their domestic staff comprised of a cook, two housemaids, a parlour maid, and a kitchen maid. The house also accommodated, for Bletchley Park or one of the other secret organisations now in North Bucks, two secretaries, ‘Civilian Admiralty NI’. That is, Naval Intelligence.

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A Drink for Queen Victoria

Liscombe Jubilee fountain  Soulbury  Bucks

The Monday Photo

In 1887, drinking fountains, clock towers and other monuments were built all over Britain to mark the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria. She had come to the throne fifty years before, aged just 18.

This combined drinking fountain and water trough was one of them, built by Phillips Cosby Lovett, of nearby Liscombe House. It sits on a slight bend on the road from Soulbury to Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire, less than 200 yards from the main gate of Liscombe Park.

Although the road follows the South edge of the park, this monument is on the North side of the road, facing the park.

45 years later in 1932 Beresford Lovett Esq., Phillips Cosby Lovett’s son, had the fountain restored. It was restored again for the Silver Jubilee of our present Queen in 1977, but I was unable to find out who did the work. Does anyone know?

Another 44 years have passed since then and it needs restoration again. Brickwork is crumbling and some stonework is missing.

An old photograph from around 1910 shows the road going right up to the drinking fountain, which is now separated from the road by a kerb and a raised verge. The bottom few inches of the fountain are now underground.

In Woughton on the Green in Milton Keynes an oak tree planted in 1887 is now 134 years old; it is Queen Victoria’s Jubilee Oak Tree.

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