Milton Keynes is officially 50 years old today, and here are fifty reasons to celebrate...
1. MK covers 119 square miles and is 40% green space. No-one in MK is ever more than half a mile from a park.
2. More than 22 million trees and shrubs and 250 million daffodils are planted in MK.
3. We have more than 180 miles of dedicated bridleways, footpaths and cycletracks (known locally as Redways) across the borough. The Redway was originally to be called the Pedway, being a cross between pedestrian and pedal.
4. MK has more bridges than Venice and more shoreline than Jersey – thanks to 15 lakes and 11 miles of canals.
5. The UK’s first solar powered house was opened in Bradville, MK in 1972
6. MK started the country’s first kerbside household recycling in 1992.
7. MK was first place in the UK to require all new developments (homes and buildings) to be carbon neutral.
8. Britain’s first self-driving ‘pod’ vehicle was unveiled in MK in 2015, and is being trialled in the borough.
9. The Blue Lagoon has at least 28 species of butterfly as well as being the site of rare British Orchids.
10. Midsummer Boulevard is so called because the sun rises at its east end on the Summer Solstice.
11. Fenny Lock is the smallest canal lock in the country.
12. If London was built to the same density as Milton Keynes, it would cover East Anglia.
13. MK has more than 220 works of public art.
14. Milton Keynes Theatre is the most popular theatre in the UK outside London.
15. We’re bidding to become European Capital of Culture in 2023.
16. Around 2.5m visits are made to arts or heritage sites and facilities in MK each year.
17. 65,000 people can fit in the National Bowl – which has attracted artists including David Bowie, Take That and Queen.
18. There are over 2,000 listed buildings in the Milton Keynes area
19. The Stables is Milton Keynes premier live music venue and was founded by the late Sir John Dankworth and his wife, Dame Cleo Laine in the grounds of their home at Wavendon.
20. The ten day MK International Festival has taken place bi-annually in July since 2010 and has attracted over 90,000 visitors each year.
21. By 2026, almost 300,000 people will live in Milton Keynes and 325,000 by 2037 (ONS Estimate).
22. 18 million people live within 60 minutes’ travel of Milton Keynes.
23. Around 13 people move to MK each day.
24. MK has more than 1,400 voluntary and community groups in total involving an estimated 84,500 volunteers
25. More than 100 languages are spoken in MK’s schools.
26. MK is one of the UK’s top five locations for business start-ups.
27. The Open University was established in Milton Keynes in 1969 - the world’s first degree-awarding distance learning institution.
28. Around 27 million visits are made to MK’s shopping centres each year.
29. Snozone in Xscape has two 220ft high real snow slopes, topped up each day with fresh snow.
30. The ‘motorist’s friend’, WD40, is produced in Milton Keynes. Only six people know the recipe.
31. The Quadrant:MK, headquarters of Network Rail, opened in 2012, covers a massive 400,000 sq ft and 3,000 people go to work there every day.
32. World famous Marshall Amplification is based in Bletchley, MK.
33. The MK Dons Football Club is based at stadiummk which is a 30,000 all seater stadium. In October 2015, Milton Keynes was a host city for the Rugby World Cup with three matches being played at stadiummk.
34. Red Bull Racing F1 team, who are based in MK, won four back-to-back Constructors and Drivers Championships in 2010/11/12/13. In December 2011, over 60,000 people took to the streets to watch Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber drive their F1 cars on the boulevards in Central Milton Keynes.
35. 2012 Gold medal winning long jumper Greg Rutherford grew up in MK. His winning jump was 8.31 metres.
36. Richard I granted Stony Stratford right to hold a market in 1194.
37. An annual pancake race in Olney dates from 1445.
38. Traffic in Newport Pagnell still passes over one of the oldest working cast iron bridges in Britain.
39. In the 1700s, travellers would try to outdo each other with tall tales while resting at The Cock and The Bull inns in Stony Stratford, leading to the popular phrase “a cock and bull story”.
40. In the 1860s, Billy Smith of Woolstone claimed to be the first man to cultivate a farm entirely by steam.
41. Home of the Royal Train, Wolverton has produced coaches for Queen Victoria in 1869, King Edward VII in 1903 and Queen Elizabeth II in 1961.
42. Amazing Grace was written by John Newton while he was curate of Olney, MK.
43. MK’s Church of Christ the Cornerstone was the first purpose-built ecumenical church in the UK.
44. The Peace Pagoda in Willen Park was the first to be built in the western hemisphere. 1,000 cherry and cedar trees grow around the Peace Pagoda in memory of those killed in all wars.
45. Charles Dickens visited Stony Stratford and based a character in Bleak House on a resident.
46. Bletchley was the home of Caves Solid Beer. Sold in slabs, water was added to make the drink.
47. In Saxon times, there was a Royal Mint in Newport Pagnell.
48. The world’s first semi-programmable electronic computer, Colossus, was built at Bletchley Park.
49. The Enigma code was cracked in Bletchley during WWII, considered to have shortened the war by two years.
50. Human settlement started in MK in 2000BC and the village of Milton Keynes is mentioned in the Domesday book of 1086.