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Villiers Conference Centre

The History of Milton Keynes

Milton Keynes is one of the new towns formally designated as a new town only on 23 January 1967. However, the area has a rich history with evidence of human settlement dating back to the 2nd millennium BC. The evidence of earlier human settlement on the site of today’s Milton Keynes were found before the construction works started in the 1960s. Most of the archaeological finds are housed in the Milton Keynes Museum (previously known as Stacey Hill Museum), while a few such as the Milton Keynes Hoard (two gold toros, three bracelets and a fragment of bronze wire dating to about 1,500-800 BC) can be seen in the British Museum in London.

When the UK Government decided to build Milton Keynes in the 1960s, the area was mostly farmland and undeveloped villages but the archaeological finds revealed that earlier history of the area is incredibly rich. In addition to the mentioned Milton Keynes Hoard which is the largest hoard of Bronze Age jewellery excavated in Britain to date, the archaeologists also discovered that the area was everything but undeveloped during the Roman period. The most notable find from the Roman period is a gold coin from the mid-2nd century BC which is perhaps the oldest gold coin in Britain discovered so far.

Following the Roman withdrawal from Britain in the early 5th century AD, the site seem to have been abandoned but the finds from the Anglo-Saxon period reveal that it was not abandoned for long. Despite that there is no firm evidence of occupation of today’s villages until the 10th century. 18 villages sprung up during the Middle Ages most of which still exist and form the heart of their districts. With the arrival of the Grand Junction Canal and the London and Birmingham Railway to the Area in the late 18th and mid-19th century, respectively, the area went through profound changes and saw the new town of Wolverton and new village of New Bradwell.

The greatest change in the history of the area, however, came in 1960s when it was chosen as the site of a new town intended to relieve housing problems in London. It was planned to be the biggest of all new towns yet, while the designated area of 89 square kilometres should become a home to 250,000 people. And the 2009 census reveals that the plan has succeeded as the area is today home to about 241,000 people. Since 1997, Milton Keynes is a unitary authority independent from the Buckinghamshire County Council.

Initially, no building was allowed to be taller than the tallest tree, however, this was later changed by the Milton Keynes Partnership which decided that the town needs “landmark buildings” and elevated the allowed height. Despite that the tallest building in Milton Keynes is only 14 floors high. In 2004, an expansion plan for Milton Keynes was announced which foresees doubling of the population by year 2026.