23 January 1967: Milton Keynes founded

The most famous of Britain's garden cities, Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire, was founded on this day in 1967.

After World War II there was an urgent need for housing to replace buildings damaged by German bombing, house the growing population, and do away with dense urban slums. This led to the creation of 'garden cities' in rural or semi-rural areas. 

Garden cities were built in three waves: in the late 1940s and early 1950s, the early to mid-1960s and the late 1960s to 1970. Milton Keynes is the most well known of these towns. Its location in a sparsely populated part of Buckinghamshire was chosen because it was relatively close to London, Oxford, Birmingham and Leicester. The hope was that this would make it attractive to people who worked in these cities. Contrary to popular myth, the name for the new town was based on a small village in the area, and had nothing to do with the economists Milton Friedman and John Maynard Keynes.

After the town was formally designated in 1967, a team of planners drew up guidelines for a city designed around an American-style grid pattern, rejecting more traditional alternatives. The combination of this layout and modernist architecture has led to Milton Keynes being characterised as soulless and boring. Indeed, many people see it as an example of what can go wrong when governments try to micro-manage urban development without respect for past traditions.

Despite this, it has been a modest success, with the population of the town growing from under 50,000 in the 1960s to nearly 250,000 today. With a national shortage of housing space, many people think it should serve as a model for the future.

Recommended

Too embarrassed to ask: what is fiscal drag?
Too embarrassed to ask

Too embarrassed to ask: what is fiscal drag?

How can politicians raise more tax revenue, without damaging their political popularity too badly? One way is by using “fiscal drag”. Here's what that…
2 Mar 2021
What is “yield curve control” and why is it coming to a central bank near you?
Government bonds

What is “yield curve control” and why is it coming to a central bank near you?

Central banks around the world are determined not to let interest rates go up too quickly or by too much – a practice known as “yield curve control”. …
1 Mar 2021
27 February 1900: The launch of the Labour Party
This day in history

27 February 1900: The launch of the Labour Party

Responding to the need for a single political party to represent the trade unions, the Labour Party was formed on this day in 1900.
27 Feb 2021
Are we heading for another bond market tantrum?
Government bonds

Are we heading for another bond market tantrum?

The last time the US central bank tried tightening the purse strings, the bond markets threw a tantrum. With yields now rising, could we be about to s…
25 Feb 2021

Most Popular

A beginner’s guide to bitcoin: how to buy bitcoin
Bitcoin

A beginner’s guide to bitcoin: how to buy bitcoin

For the novice, buying bitcoin can be a daunting prospect. Here, Dominic Frisby outlines the process from start to finish.
3 Mar 2021
A beginner’s guide to bitcoin: what is bitcoin?
Bitcoin

A beginner’s guide to bitcoin: what is bitcoin?

As a completely novel concept for many people, bitcoin can take a little effort to get to grips with. In the first of a short series on the cryptocurr…
1 Mar 2021
Why gold has been such a bad investment so far this year
Gold

Why gold has been such a bad investment so far this year

Gold – the ultimate safe haven investment – is proving anything but safe. It’s lost over $200 an ounce since its high at the start of the year. Domini…
3 Mar 2021