How Milton Keynes began

Milton Keynes skyline
Milton Keynes skyline

Following the outbreak of the Second World War, a massive influx of evacuees arrived in the district. This was to escape the expected bombing of London, and although there had been an influx during the First World War, this had been nothing on the scale caused by the Blitz.

As the war progressed it became increasingly apparent it would be unwise to concentrate the growing population of London in a central area.

The New Town Act of 1946 allowed the Government to designate suitable areas as ‘new towns’ with a development corporation of each having responsibility for the construction.

In 1966 Richard Crossman, the then Minister of Housing, issued a proposed draft designation area for a North Bucks New Town. A public inquiry was held and although the inspector recommended paring down the intended acreage, the decision to build was taken, with only a small reduction in size.

As the Minister for Housing and Local Government, Anthony Greenwood decided to name the new city after the village of Milton Keynes - although ironically this wouldn’t have even been in the designated area had the inspector’s recommendations been heeded.

Lord Campbell of Eskan was appointed as the head of Milton Keynes Development Corporation and in August 1967 – with the telephone number Woburn Sands 3401 – the Corporation moved into their new headquarters at Wavendon Tower.

There were eight board members and Walter Ismay was engaged as managing director on an anuual salary of £10,000.

An interim plan was put in place while the partnership of Llewelyn-Davies, Weeks, Forrestier-Walker and Bor – who’d worked on the new town of Washington, County Durham – produced a master plan, which was expected to take two years. After the relevant approval, construction began in earnest.