13 October 2016

MK

The Light Pyramid, Milton Keynes
MK? Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire. It grew up in the nineteen sixties as one of England's planned "new towns" and now has a population of just under quarter of a million. It sits close to the M1 motorway and is equidistant from London, Birmingham, Oxford and Cambridge.

I had driven past Milton Keynes many times but had never visited until Sunday evening as we were returning to The North from our weekend sojourn in London. A night in MK would break up the journey and my curiosity would be salved.
MK Rose in Campbell Park
Though three or four historic villages were blended in to the urban design, most of the town is based upon an American-style grid system with wide boulevards and thousands of trees. One of the original planning tenets was that no building in Milton Keynes should be taller than the tallest tree and indeed it still feels like a "low rise" place.
In MK Centre

Other English cities have clear historic centres - and the whole city radiates from that point but Milton Keynes is different. Instead of an obvious central focus there is instead a massive, sprawling shopping palace called MK Centre. Look to the left and the gleaming floor stretches out as far as the eye can see. Look to the right and it's the same. Countless shops and eateries.

MK also has parks and paths, housing estates and hi-tec businesses and office blocks. As I sat on the little wall that surrounds The Light Pyramid in Campbell Park, I saw a posse of runners moving up the slope towards me. "Morning", puffed the lead runner and there were other "Mornings" from some of the other runners. It seemed like a friendly place and indeed just then a scruffy black dog mounted a scruffy white dog. The black dog's owner protested, "That's rude Alfie! Get off her!" 

Parking by MK Centre cost £2 for one hour so we didn't stay long there. Why isn't it free to park? We got in the car and moved north along Watling Street to Towcester where we stopped for a stroll and sustenance in Towcester Tea Rooms before returning to the motherland - Yorkshire my Yorkshire, this beating heart of the known universe. Interestingly, it was free to park in  historic Towcester's little marketplace. Learn from this Milton Keynes instead of ripping off shoppers and inquisitive visitors from UpNorth.
Church of Christ The Cornerstone, Milton Keynes

20 comments:

  1. I don't think I've been to MK since the 70s when it was little more than an idea. I'm not sure that life is ever likly to take me back either.

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    1. PS I can spell 'likely'.

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    2. It is an odd place. I wouldn't choose to live somewhere like that. I am not a big fan of shopping malls at the best of times.

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  2. The wife of one of my friends grew up in MK. It seems like the kind of place that tends to be the brunt of jokes about the boring sterility of suburbs.

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    1. It was a modern development dream and as far as I could see it certainly hadn't failed but it wouldn't suit me. I like chaos.

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  3. I've not been there either, but have meant to find out what it's like. Thanks for the tour guide!

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    1. Close by there's Bletchley Park and Woburn Abbey. I would have liked to spend a day or two more exploring the town and its setting.

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    2. Bletchley is well worth a visit.

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  4. Odd to think of a city that's younger than we are.

    I've only ever visited MK once and that was many years ago and I'm on the side of Francis Tibalds who found it "bland, rigid, sterile, and totally boring."

    But £2 an hour to park? I thought it was designed to be car friendly.

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    1. It was like paying two quid at Meadowhall or The Trafford Centre.

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  5. Our Market Square in Leyburn is free and I am sure it encourages more people to call in and spend money in the shops.

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    1. Making motorists pay when ever they park is so mean-spirited, greedy and short-sighted.

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  6. Our market square is a car-free zone except for the market stall holders on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings (farmers' market).
    Nearly everywhere else in Ludwigsburg's town center, you pay for parking - but you can get tokens at most shops when you buy anything above, say, 20 Euros or so.

    Anyway, Milton Keynes sounds like an interesting place; planned towns do fascinate me. But certainly not to live there, just to look around and try to match the original idea with reality.

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    1. I like that idea of buying goods and getting free parking as a result. This does happen at the big John Lewis car park in the centre of Sheffield but it's quite uncommon hereabouts.

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  7. It's unfortunate that you get a sprawling North American city plan. we make things that are temporary and can be bulldozed and then something new built in it's place.

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    1. Good point Red. I like places that evolve over time.

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  8. I mean this nicely...please don't misinterpret my words and intention...but what a huge difference the town is from pictures of other areas you show. Milton Keynes is so squeaky clean and new (modern). It looks so out of character.

    Is the town named after the British Economist, John Maynard Keynes, Yorkie?

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    1. There was a little village called Milton Keynes that dated back to at least the 13th century so no, the town's name has nothing to do with the famous economist or indeed the poet John Milton

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  9. Seen one shopping centre, seen them all, is my motto. I am intrigued by the Rose in Campbell Park. It looks as though there is lots to see.

    Alphie

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