By Anton Constantinou
There’s more to Milton Keynes than meets the eye. Now in its 50th year, it’s a town on the rise, with ambitions to become a future hub.
Just 45 miles outside London, it’s conveniently located and well connected through a network of grid roads and underpasses. A number of major companies are headquartered there, including Volkswagen, Rightmove and Argos. It’s also home to some iconic attractions. However, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Here are 16 facts about the town which might take you by surprise.
Need somewhere to pull over? Fear not – Central Milton Keynes has more than 20,000 parking spaces, so finding a spot shouldn’t prove too difficult. It follows that the vast majority of SilverDoor serviced apartments there feature on-site parking – a luxury you’ll scarcely see in big cities.
Believe it or not, Milton Keynes gave us Britain’s first ever multiplex cinema. The Point, as it’s called, was a notable development in the 80s, characterised by a distinctive crystal ziggurat shape from the front and fluorescent neon lights.
Milton Keynes’s cultural institutions feature everything from historic telephones to code breaking puzzles. Take refuge in an air-raid shelter or navigate your way around a rebuild of the world’s first electronic computer. There really is plenty to do.
In among the roundabouts lie rural towpaths and grassy banks. With more than 5,000 acres of parkland, lakes and woodland, Milton Keynes is as leafy as it is urban. Top spots include the ancient woods of Shenley, where you’ll find an abundance of wild flowers, and the River Ouzel, which connects to various country pubs.
A recent article by the Guardian put the number of roundabouts in Milton Keynes at 130. That’s a lot of intersections for a single town. But, with the area continuing to grow, it’s anyone’s guess what that number might be in six months’ time.
Milton Keynes’s offering of 15 lakes and 11 miles of canals is more generous than Jersey. It also surpasses Venice in terms of bridges. We recommend a boat tour along the Grand Union Canal – romantic break, anyone?
You don’t have to fly to Tignes to brush up on your technique. Get your game in order with a visit to Snozone in the Xscape leisure complex. There you’ll find two 220ft high slopes containing real snow.
Not exactly the sort of thing you expect to find in Buckinghamshire – the Maldives, maybe. Architect, Stuart Mosscrop, was the brains behind it. Located in the open square of the CMK Shopping Centre, his granite edged bath attracted controversy for its expensive design, and was closed soon after completion.
Britain’s first driverless car was test-run in Milton Keynes last year and ultimately proved a success. The two-seater LUTZ Pathfinder hit speeds of 15mph, paving the way for other such vehicles to follow in the future. By 2018, it’s predicted there’ll be 40 pods of driverless cars passing through Milton Keynes.
Bidding is currently underway to elevate Milton Keynes’s town status to heights it’s never achieved before. In a presentation put forward in 2015, local councillors outlined their plans to transform the area into an international city through increased inward investment, strong leadership and greater media support.
The Red Bull Racing team are based in Milton Keynes and bagged four back-to-back drivers’ and constructors’ championships between 2010 and 2013. Car fanatics can try their hand on a few bends at the Daytona karting venue, where you’ll find a 1360m long International Circuit made up of 11 corners.
The population of Milton Keynes stood at 255,700 in 2013, and by 2037 that number is expected to rocket to 325,000. Thirteen new people a day are said to arrive in Milton Keynes, and, with other developments happening at a local level, we’ll no doubt see the area prosper in years to come.
Replacing Oxford Street and Liverpool Street Station are the University of Bedford and Fenny Stratford Station, while the famous concrete Cows take the place of Old Kent Road. Other key spots on the board include MK News and Bletchley Park.
The Milton Keynes City Orchestra is world famous and an important pillar in the local community. As well as playing alongside distinguished choirs in the Jersey First proms, they continue to work closely with schools. Also in Milton Keynes is The National Bowl: an entertainment venue, capable of holding up to 65,000 people, which has previously played host to the likes of Michael Jackson, Bowie and Queen.
Milton Keynes is cutting edge in terms of digital research, thanks to numerous past projects. In 2014, for example, Cambridge manufacturer, Neul, teamed up with BT to deliver 15 new base stations across the area, capable of detecting signals from sensors in thousands of objects. The town is also aiming to become Britain’s Silicon Valley.
iFLY’s vertical wind tunnels provide the perfect free-fall conditions for a spot of diving in Milton Keynes. The indoor skydiving centre also has a site in Basingstoke and Manchester. People of all abilities are welcomed and receive guidance from top instructors.