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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You Are Here

Moved milestone  Winslow  Bucks

The Monday Photo

At Winslow recently to photograph the New Track Construction Machine laying a new railway line as far as the town’s new station, an elderly lady pointed out this milestone.

As I grew up in Winslow I’d known about this stone for years, but as she said, it’s unusual for the distance to anywhere to be “0” miles.

That’s how far this stone says it is to Winslow. It seems obvious that you’ve reached the town now, but when this probably 18th Century milestone was erected Winslow was a quarter of a mile away, out of sight on the other side of the hill. 18th Century milestones were erected on turnpikes; main roads that travellers had to pay to use.

The new Wendover & Buckingham turnpike through Winslow, now part of the A413, opened in 1721. But I think this example is later, no earlier than the opening of the Buckingham, Brackley and Banbury turnpike in 1791.

It was then 23 miles to Banbury from this point, as far as I can make out; the roads have changed a lot since the 18th Century.

With eight turnpikes leading from the town Banbury was a major connection on the turnpike network, probably why it’s on a milestone by a turnpike that doesn’t actually go there. Of course London was, and still is, a major destination; that’s why it’s on this marker too.

 Moved Again?
This milestone has been moved a couple of yards; it used to be at one end of the bridge parapet until recently. Being of suspicious mind, I wondered if had also been moved when the railway came through the town, so that it wasn’t in the middle of the bridge.

I can’t say for sure, but the pre-railway, Ordnance Survey Old Series maps seem to show it more to the South, probably within the 200’ width of the cutting.

This milestone is in the design known as Aylesbury Square, as are most or all of the milestones between Aylesbury and Buckingham. But starting with this one and heading towards Buckingham, Banbury starts to be mentioned.

The milestone at Shipton, the next one towards Aylesbury, has on it Buckingham 7, London 50, and Aylesbury 10, but no mention of Banbury. There’s also no mention of Winslow, though the milestone is still in the parish. Perhaps it’s part of an earlier batch.

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First Train to Winslow in 30 Years

New Track Construction Machine at Old Winslow stationAs near as I can tell, the train is at the site of the old station at Winslow.

A local railway passenger service is coming nearer to returning to Winslow, 30 years and two days after the last passenger train stopped in the town. Freshly laid track has reached the new station, the halfway point between Bletchley and Bicester.

The work was carried out with Balfour Beatty’s New Track Construction Machine. As it goes along, the machine lays sleepers, then picks up rails that were previously laid loose along the route. It carefully aligns the rails, then clips them to “chairs” set in each sleeper.

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Almost on Track

New station  Winslow  Bucks

The Monday Photo

Every so often I’ll poke my head over the railway bridge on Buckingham Road, Winslow, to see how things are progressing with the new East West Rail line.

But I can’t any more, as the mid 19th Century bridge’s parapets have been built up to over head height; all part of the work for the project.

Before this project started, the railway cutting had been overgrown for years. I remember goods trains coming through in the late 1960s, after the old station had closed in 1968.

As you can see, this is the new Winslow railway station; the site of the old one, where you might expect it at the bottom of Station road, was built on years ago so can’t be used.

There’s no track yet, but East West Rail say “we will be installing track through Winslow between January and April 2023.” They also say they expect to be running a scheduled service by 2025. There’s an immense amount of work involved in rebuilding this railway line; I’ve covered it several times here on the North Bucks Wanderer.

As ever, nearly everything built here in Southern England is built over and shaped by what came before. Here for example, the new line follows the route of the old one, the new station is in the only place it can go.

If you ever spot a peculiar bit of road or an odd shaped house, it will have been made that way by the work of the past; just keep an eye out and you’ll start noticing it.

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The Mystery of Denbigh Hall Station

Denbigh railway bridge crosses Watling StreetThe railway crosses the road close to the bottom of a small valley. A stream which ran just this side of the bridge was culverted under the road and the built up land on the far side of the tracks. The nearest part of the stream ran roughly along the line of Melrose Avenue, West Bletchley.

This is Denbigh Hall railway bridge, and for a few months in 1838 the line from London stopped here.

You’ve probably seen articles and videos about this bridge and the temporary station here and wondered where that station stood. I wondered too, because nobody ever gives a location.

I looked at every source I could find, and for a while went on a wild goose chase, finding a low wall said to be the remains of the platform. It wasn’t.

Nobody seemed to know, but I think I’ve found the answer.

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Bridge Out

Old railway bridge with farm trackThe brickwork looks to be in good condition, though the retaining wall on the approach needs attention. Beyond the bridge will be the cutting for the HS2 line.

There are quite a few nice old railway bridges in North Bucks, but it looks like the Highways Agency want to demolish this one, though it was in quite good condition when I visited it this week.

This bridge is nearly 125 years old, a part of our railway heritage and a local landmark on a footpath near Twyford Mill.

When HS2 is completed it will be about 120 feet from the edge of the cutting. The existing farm track will be carried over the cutting on a new bridge.


From the Government’s plans and what a local dog walker told me, this original bridge will be demolished; instead there will just be a ramp up to the new one. I believe there's enough room to keep this bridge and make it part of the ramp to the new one.

I see there’s another bridge that will be lost, too, about a quarter of a mile to the South East. But I didn’t realise until I came home again.

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