Milton Keynes’ heritage is coming under the spotlight as the city gears up for its 50th anniversary in 2017.
This month marks the tenth anniversary of Milton Keynes Heritage Open Days when, for four days, historic sites, museums and venues large and small throw open their doors to the public for free.
Run by Living Archive Milton Keynes with the support of Milton Keynes Council and the MK Heritage Association, it’s an annual invitation to explore this area’s rich history. It has been taken up by more than 40,000 people attending almost 400 events over 10 years.
This year, from September 10 to 13 there are more than 50 free events and activities taking place across Milton Keynes – ranging from history-themed festivals, exhibitions to exploring churches or cycling heritage trails.
A timetable of all the Heritage Open Days events and activities can be found at www.mkheritageopendays.com, or you can pick up a leaflet from your local library.
“We are delighted with how Heritage Open Days has grown from just 15 events in 2006. It’s the one time in the year where the smallest organisation or historic society can run an event and benefit from a huge city-wide profile,” said Paul Sanders, assistant director of Community Facilities at Milton Keynes Council. “Local people are able to access the museums for free when usually they would have to pay – so barriers to cost are removed. And because events focus on child – and family-friendly activities, it helps to diversify the audiences for our heritage.”
There’s a lot of heritage to discover. Thanks to its location, the area teems with traces of past human activity, from Stone Age hunters in the Ouzel Valley to codebreakers in the Second World War.
And local people are playing a key role in preserving that past. There are more than 60 heritage-related societies around MK with more than 5,000 volunteers, many involved in the Heritage Open Day events.
“Our heritage is of national, even international importance. It gives pride and contributes to a sense of belonging. And as Milton Keynes gears up for its 50th anniversary in 2017, it’s becoming an asset which can raise the city’s profile and benefit its future development,” said Melanie Jeavons, general manager of Living Archive Milton Keynes.
“Ten years on, Heritage Open Days are a flagship for Milton Keynes’ heritage, and help spread the word that Milton Keynes is not just a ‘new town’. This message is very important for us to get over to encourage future visitors, business relocating here and economic investment.
“This year we have more than 50 events but in future we’d like to have 100, particularly as Milton Keynes is bidding to be the UK nomination for European Capital of Culture in 2023.”
“Looking to 2016, if anyone has heritage events they’d like to run, or ideas for anything they’d like to see, then get in touch. You can ring 01908 322568 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.”