Monday, 12 January 2015

Milton Keynes–First Impression

It’s rather a surprise to find we have a lonely mooring in the heart of Milton Keynes.  Somehow I’d expected to see a long line of moored boats.  Perhaps the impending closure of Bridge 84 immediately behind us is a major contributing factor.

All on her lonesome!

After the usual Sunday call back to Perth we wandered into the centre of town for a look. Finding our way about appeared to be slightly confusing.  Probably because Milton Keynes is a ‘new town’ and is laid out in a grid pattern rather than the more familiar radial layout.  The town was established in the 1960’s as a new centre.  It is equidistant between London, Leicester, Oxford and Cambridge.  Apart from the grid pattern, the first thing you notice about the town is the effort that went into separating pedestrians from vehicular traffic.  Generally pedestrians can freely move around without having to cross roads.  One disconcerting aspect of the layout is it’s somewhat difficult to locate the centre of the town.  All the buildings appear to be boxes.

Dual carriage way main roads with pedestrian access underneath

The first major feature we noticed when walking to the town centre was what looked to be a large slag heap with an aerial at the peak.  When we got closer we realised it was actually a very large building with a curved roof.  Further investigation identified it as the Xscape building. It contains an indoor ski slope, a climbing wall and a number of theatres.  Eating establishments were located around the perimeter.  I failed to take a photo of the curved roof but did take one of the western end.

The main shopping area is within one large rectangular building and contains the usual high street shops.  I have the impression this was an earlier attempt to construct a suburban mall.  It has been done in the modernist style which I find rather boring.  I’m obviously not on my own as the president of the Royal Town Planning Institute has apparently described the centre of Milton Keynes as “bland, rigid, sterile, and totally boring."

Tomorrow I’ll take another walk around the town centre and have a more detailed look.  Jan also wants me to look for a hot water bottle.  Here was me thinking I was already hot enough for her!


Marilyn McDonald said...

Hi Tom, the canal through MK is surprising, isn't it? We were there in late Sept and it wasn't full then either. We particularly like MK, as even though its centre is confusing, it incorporates lots of the original villages and it is so green - my aunt told me that they planted 18m trees when setting it out. And as you say, you can walk for miles without crossing a road.
If you haven't yet been to it, do take the time to go to Bletchley Park - it is a wonderful place to visit. Allow at least a day for it. I am sure, given your predilection for electronic wizardry and problem solving, that you will find it fascinating.
If you want to be considered adequate as a hot water bottle, Tom, you need to go to bed earlier than Jan, warm up her side first and only move to your side when she comes to bed.
Cheers, Marilyn

Neil Corbett said...

Milton Keynes was actually conceived and built as a new city (not town) but was never actually granted city status, which is a pity. My sister, who still lives in the area, always talks about "going up the city" as do many locals.
Kath (nb Herbie)

Tom and Jan said...

Jan already puts her cold feet on my warm back! We will be here a few days and do more exploring.

Tom and Jan said...

Hi Neil

If it keeps growing it may yet make city status!

Narrowboat QISMA said...

My ex Ma in Law lived there when it was new. Not been since EArly

Narrowboat QISMA said...

Used to be there a lot 1973-1993 and not back till cruising last year. I was delighted with tree growth and greenery. Have you bee to Willen Lake and Oeace Pagoda. Easy walk from Campbell Park. Have you Sen Ephiphany? In the area.

Tom and Jan said...

Not much greenery at the moment Jan :-)

There is still plenty of walking to be done if the liquid sunshine will only stop!