Monday Photo

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.

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Delivery Day

WW2 Chevrolet CMP 15cwt truck

The Monday Photo

Often forgotten in tales of war are the supply lines. Without food, ammunition and fuel an army will soon grind to a halt; unable to fight or move.

This is where the truck and lorry drivers come in. Canadian built trucks like this 15 cwt Chevrolet were used to supply troops during Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of occupied Europe that began on 6th June 1944, 78 years ago today. That is, D-Day.

This is a Canadian Military Pattern (CMP) truck, built in huge numbers and in numerous versions for the armies of Britain and the empire in World War 2.

This example was built in 1941, and during restoration yellow paint was found, strongly suggesting that it saw service in North Africa before going to Sicily and Italy, then on into Europe.


The film A Bridge Too Far is based on Cornelius Ryan's book of the same name. Meanwhile I've just read James Holland's Brothers in Arms; it's very good.

After the war the truck was sold off and used on a farm as a general purpose 4 X 4 vehicle.

It’s now marked up as a 30 Corps medical supply truck. 30 Corps landed on Gold Beach on D-Day and that September were involved in operation Market Garden, later filmed as A Bridge Too Far.

The truck still carries scars from its wartime service, and they have been left unrepaired as a mark of respect for the men who drove it.

I saw this Chevrolet at the Newport Pagnell Vintage Event last Saturday. You probably can’t quite read it here, but the Lance Corporal wears the shoulder tags of the Royal Winnipeg Rifles.

D-Day was a long time ago now, but what does it mean to you now?

Today's photo was taken with a Pentax camera and lens.

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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.

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War Graves Week

RSC grave  Whaddon

The Monday Photo

This is the grave of Geoffrey Daintree Pearson, who died on active service at Whaddon. He was 42.

A signalman in the Royal Corps of Signals, he fell when doing maintenance work on a tall radio mast at their station on Church Hill, known to the men as Windy Ridge.

It was September 1943. About eight months later this radio station would play an important part in D-Day and the invasion of occupied Europe; Operation Overlord.

Geoffrey is buried in the graveyard of St Mary’s church in Whaddon, and the men of the Royal Signals had to walk through that graveyard to reach their posts.  Although he was not killed through enemy action, this signalman still died in the service of his country.

I‘m showing you this photo today because this is War Graves Week. This commemorative week runs until next Saturday, the 28th May. There are a few events for the week in North Bucks, though the next one is on Tuesday 24th, perhaps to late to get to now.

But here’s a group photo of the Royal Signals personnel at Windy Ridge, in 1945. There are far more of them than I imagined; I counted about 160 men in the photo.

I wrote about what’s left of windy Ridge and its part in Operation Overlord last year, and the post gives you directions to the station’s remains.

Now I’ve seen the photo at the link above, I wonder if there may be some evidence of radio bases out in the field, far away from where the buildings had been. I’ll have to visit Church hill again for another look…

This photo was taken with a Pentax camera and lens.

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No Entry This Side

Norman stonework in wall of Dunton church  Bucks
The Monday Photo

Even small and simple churches have interesting details, so it’s always worth having a look.

For example, here’s the blocked up North door of St Martin’s church, Dunton. Built in the 12th Century, it is of course Norman; the zigzag (chevron) pattern is typical of the Norman style.

St Martin’s has a small 12th Century nave and smaller 13th Century chancel. It has a low 13th Century tower with clasped buttresses. The South wall of the chancel is 18th Century. Dunton is between Whitchurch and Stewkley.

Have you ever found something you didn’t expect while out exploring?

First printed in 1965 and now out of print, this is still one of the best guides to looking at churches. I often refer to my own copy.


I used a Sony A6000 and zoom lens for daily carrying, when I'm not going out just to take photos. I always carry a a camera.

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On the Market

Bell Alley  Winslow

The Monday Photo

At the bottom of Winslow High Street is the Bell Hotel. At one end of the hotel is Bell Alley, and that’s where we are standing.

The Bell can be seen in the photo; the white gable end of the front range at centre bottom, and the five windowed brick building to its right; once the farmer’s bar, well used on market day.

The first detailed reference to the Bell was in 1591, though the present timber framed building is listed as being 17th Century. It was refronted in the 19th Century. At least some interior walls are wattle and daub.

On the right of the photo is what was once another pub; the 17th Century George Inn. Not to be confused with the present day George nearby, it spent some time as a workhouse. It is now a restaurant and part of the Bell. This alley was once known as George Alley.

Centre left of the photo is the 1870 ironmonger’s shop built by W.H. French. The Midgeley family later took the shop over and ran it as an ironmonger’s for a century. I think the building far left is part of it.

This shop and all the other buildings in this block, once known as the Buttermarket, were built on the once much larger Market Square, as were the block across the road that includes the modern George pub.

You might find similar encroachments were made on the market in your own town. If so, please let me know in a comment.

 

This post's photo was taken with a Pentax camera and fisheye zoom lens.

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.

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