Map of the week – Milton Keynes, village, town, city or county?

Main Map: Ordnance Survey County Series 1:2500 – 1881
Milton Keynes

Milton Keynes – the smallest county in the country.

Milton Keynes is a town in Buckinghamshire (*more about that below), about 45 miles north-west of London. It was designated as a new town on 23 January 1967, with the design brief to become a ‘city’ in scale.

The original Village name has gone through many variations over the years. The village was originally known as Middeltone (11th century); then later as Middelton Kaynes or Caynes (13th century); Milton Keynes (15th century); and Milton alias Middelton Gaynes (17th century).

In the census of 1901 the village of Milton Keynes was recorded as having a population of just 219, a far cry from modern day Milton Keynes which population, according to the 2011 census, has risen to a staggering 229,941.

Since the 1950s, overspill housing for several London boroughs had been constructed in Bletchley. Further studies in the 1960s identified north Buckinghamshire as a possible site for a large new town, This new town would be built to encompass the existing towns of Bletchley, Stony Stratford and Wolverton. The New Town (informally, “New City”) was to be the biggest yet, with a target population of 250,000 in a ‘designated area’ of 34.1 sq miles. The name “Milton Keynes” was taken from the existing village of Milton Keynes on the site. The site was deliberately chosen for its location being equidistant from London, Birmingham, Leicester, Oxford and Cambridge.

Milton Keynes Development Corporation planned the major road layout according to street hierarchy principles, using a grid pattern of approximately 1 km (0.62 mi) intervals.

Facinating facts about MK include:

It’s the fastest growing urban area in Europe. There are currently twice as many births as there are deaths and around 13 people a day move to Milton Keynes.
Central Milton Keynes’s shopping centre is in the Guinness Book of Records for being the longest in the World.
Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Queen, U2 and Robbie Williams have all played the Milton Keynes National Bowl.
The Crownhill Estate’s streets are all named after dead celebrities including Presley Way, Hendrix Drive Crosby Court, Keaton Close and Monroe Avenue.

*Three bids to grant Milton Keynes city status have so far been submitted to the Government but none have succeeded, but that could be because a little known piece of legislation in 1995 actually names Milton Keynes as a county. The legislation reads ‘Milton Keynes shall cease to form part of Buckinghamshire’ and ‘a new county shall be constituted comprising the area of Milton Keynes and shall be named the county of Milton Keynes’. This new county includes all areas covered by Milton Keynes Council, including locations such as Olney, Newport Pagnell and Stony Stratford. 

With an area of around 119 square miles it makes Milton Keynes smaller than Rutland, traditionally known to be the smallest county in the country at a relatively massive 147 square miles.

If you have an interesting story and would like to see a historical map of your area then why not let us know by emailing us.

Cassini has historical maps of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland going back 200 years. Visit Cassini Maps to discover the landscape of your past