CAN you help make history by sharing your memories of Milton Keynes?
That’s the question Living Archive is posing with the launch of a new website designed to make it easy for everyone to contribute their stories and pictures to a ‘people’s history’ of this area.
Already the website boasts some fascinating insights into our city’s past, including local resident Denis Mason’s account of helping artist Liz Leyh create the iconic concrete cows. There was an outcry over the waste of money with critics claiming it was costing £1/4 million to build the herd. “My memory is that Liz spent about £35 on materials....their publicity value probably was £250,000.”
A generation earlier, when wartime meant waste really was a matter of life or death, one hapless fish-hater was caught and fined for abandoning his fish sandwiches in the public loos. After the sandwiches were found twice in the George St (Bletchley?) loos, police actually staged a stake out to catch the culprit who admitted he’d been leaving the sandwiches his landlady prepared for him for the last six months.
Bletchley, Newport Pagnell, Wolverton, Stony, Milton Keynes Village, Wavendon and Netherfield are among the areas already featured in memories local people have contributed. But that leaves many, many more stories still to be told, according to Living Archive’s Mel Jeavons.
“We would love to hear from people right across the city, whether they were born and bred here, or arrived since we became a new city. Often people say they don’t have anything of interest, no big stories, but actually it’s the small details that really bring history to life for future generations.
“We believe everyone’s memories have value and help us to tell the story of life in this area. We want to hear from as many people as possible.”
The website boasts plenty of fascinating pictures and documents people have found at the bottom of wardrobes – such as the canteen menu from the old Bletchley Senior School. “Just think how today’s youngsters with their packed lunches would react to sitting down to Monday’s school menu of oxtail stew, potatoes and spotted dick!” said Mel.
Contributing to the website at www.livingarchive.org.uk is really simple. Once you have registered the site invites you to add words, pictures or even audio or video clips. They’ll be catalogued and added to the site by Living Archive editors and become a part of the people’s history of Milton Keynes.
For inspiration take a look at what is already on the Living Archive site. Along with dozens of stories from around Milton Keynes there’s a growing collection of old photographs to enjoy – or even purchase – plus a wide range of local history gifts.
Fore more details visit www.livingarchive.org.uk/
Notes to editors
1. Living Archive collects, preserves and shares the history and heritage of Milton Keynes. Conceived as an antidote to the assertion that ‘new towns have no history’, and nurtured by the belief that ‘everybody has a story to tell’, it has recorded, archived and celebrated the unique history of residents’ lives and sense of place.
2. Pictures show a) Newport Nobby stopping at Bradwell Station. The line used to run between Wolverton and Newport Pagnell, carrying passengers to both Wolverton Works and to the mainline connection to London. It has now become the Railway Walk! b) market day at Bletchley - the town had a cattle and sheep market until the 1960s, serving an area which, before the arrival of the new city, was mainly agricultural.
2. The Milton Keynes Collection is a partnership of five museums and heritage organisations - Living Archive, Bletchley Park, City Discovery Centre, Cowper and Newton Museum and Milton Keynes M useum - who have joined forces to:
Raise awareness of the rich history of Milton Keynes within and beyond the ‘new’ city;
Win public and commercial support for its conservation, interpretation and development;
Share resources and expertise in areas such as volunteering, collections handling, governance and marketing; and
Inspire more people to get involved and help to secure this unique heritage for future generations.
3. For media enquiries and images contact Jane Matthews on 07791065362 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org