Military

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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The Explorer and the President

The Abbey  Aston AbbottsThe front door of the mainly 18th Century house, The Abbey. It faces North.

In Aston Abbotts is a house that’s had two men of note living there, though many years apart.

The first was polar explorer Rear Admiral Sir James Clark Ross. The second was president of Czechoslovakia Edvard Beneš, in exile with his government during World War 2.

The house is The Abbey, so called because the lands it was built on belonged to the abbots of St Albans Abbey until the estate was confiscated by Henry VIII. The Abbey is mostly 18th Century, though it might well have an earlier core, perhaps 15th or 16th Century.

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Roll of Honour

Roll of honour  Edlesborough

The Monday Photo

This is a roll of honour, in Edlesborough’s church of St Mary the Virgin. It’s on a printed template, sold (I presume) to churches during the first World War.

Sometimes you can still find them, usually at the rear of the nave.

There are names from both World Wars here. The names from WW1 are of those who fought and survived, not those who perished; their names, along with those who died in WW2, are on the war memorial at the edge of the churchyard.

In contrast, far more names are listed for WW2, but the names of the relatively few who died are listed again. You can just see them, bottom right under “Departed”.

Four men who were prisoners of war are not in the main list, but are listed just above those who died.

There are very similar templates in at least two other churches in North Bucks. There’s one at Chearsley’s church of St Nicholas, and two at St Firmin’s church, N.Crawley. I’ve also seen other templates used.

Note:
I have to admit I got caught out today! As today is Boxing Day, It didn’t occur to me until late afternoon that it was also a Monday, and I should have put up a Monday Photo much earlier! Just the way my mind works, I suppose. Sorry folks!

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Another Look Underground

As Typepad is having technical problems after moving to a new server which mean I cannot upload photos until the problems are fixed, I thought I'd show you a post from the early days of the North Bucks Wanderer.

You may find that some of these photos when clicked on, do not produce an enlarged version. I can't do anything about that until the technical issues are fixed.

Since I wrote this in 2018, the shrubs and hedge that hid the top of the shaft have all been cleared away, and the hatch has been padlocked shut.

Underground in the Cold War

ROC post Bucks entrance shaftThe entrance shaft. The top of the shaft is about three feet above ground level, so the post is about 17 feet below the ground (I estimate)

In the mid 1950s, the threat of atomic attack by the Soviet Union was taken very seriously by the British government. The Royal Observers Corps were given the job, if an attack took place, of reporting nuclear bomb explosions and of monitoring radioactive fallout. Three men at a time crewed the post.

1,563 underground posts were built all over the UK for the ROC, and many still exist. This one is somewhere between Winslow and Aylesbury. I’ll not be more precise, as these posts tend to get vandalised or the contents are stolen. This post closed in 1991.

There are a few restored posts. Here is one, with a cutaway diagram of the post.

The posts were built to a standard design, although the hatch at the top of the shaft isn't always hinged on the same side, and some were built 'handed'. That is, to a mirror image plan. I have no idea why; can anybody enlighten me?

If you want to know more, there are at least two books on the subject. They are Cold War Secret Nuclear Bunkers by Nick McCamley, and Cold War - Building for Nuclear Confrontation 1946-1989 by Wayne D. Cocroft and Roger J. C. Thomas.

Anyway, here’s some photos I took last year.

ROC post Bucks bottom of shaftThe bottom of the access shaft. The device on the right is a hand pump for emptying the sump, where any water that got in would collect.

ROC post Bucks main roomThis is the main and only room. The entrance shaft is at the far left, and off the  shaft but not visible in this photo, was the chemical toilet.

ROC post BucksThe view from the door.

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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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