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

Three lessons from football’s European Super League disaster
Economy

Three lessons from football’s European Super League disaster

Businesses can learn from the failed attempt to create a European Super League, says Matthew Lynn.
2 May 2021
The V-shaped recovery looks to be here at last
Economy

The V-shaped recovery looks to be here at last

The world is certainly not a Panglossian paradise. But the recovery is under way and there is plenty of good news about.
29 Apr 2021
The Greensill saga: what’s it about and what does it mean for you?
UK Economy

The Greensill saga: what’s it about and what does it mean for you?

The collapse of Lex Greensill’s business empire has left a trail of financial devastation across several countries. Saloni Sardana looks at what happe…
27 Apr 2021
Bitcoin mania: private currencies are nothing new
Bitcoin

Bitcoin mania: private currencies are nothing new

The idea is gaining ground that bitcoin and the plethora of other new currencies are here to stay. But the existence of private currencies operating p…
15 Apr 2021

Most Popular

What is hyperinflation and could it happen here?
Inflation

What is hyperinflation and could it happen here?

The Bank of England has been accused of the kind of money-printing that could lead to Zimbabwe-style hyperinflation. But that's very unlikely to happe…
4 May 2021
Copper has hit a ten-year high, but this could just be the start of a huge bull market
Industrial metals

Copper has hit a ten-year high, but this could just be the start of a huge bull market

The price of copper is at its highest for ten years. But supply constraints and a massive rise in demand mean it’s not going to stop there, says Domin…
5 May 2021
Micro-cap stocks: how to get huge returns from tiny firms
Small cap stocks

Micro-cap stocks: how to get huge returns from tiny firms

Micro-cap stocks are often overlooked, but the British market has plenty of them and their potential is massive. Max King picks the best two investmen…
3 May 2021