History of MK

Check out our potted history of Milton Keynes with some key moments highlighted over the past 50 years!

1967Milton Keynes

Development of the new town of Milton Keynes began following its formal designation as a new town on January 23rd. Its purpose was to help alleviate London's chronic housing problem and to provide a commercial centre for Buckinghamshire. It was called Milton Keynes after the existing village of that name.


Milton Keynes Natural History Society (MKNHS) is founded.


The Open University, the world’s first distance learning university, formed at Walton Hall. The first students enrolled in 1971.


Sir John Dankworth and Dame Cleo Laine found The Stables music organisation in the stable block of their home.


Bletchley Leisure Centre opened with its iconic pyramid building which housed the pool, later redeveloped. The Milton Keynes Museum was founded by volunteers as the Stacey Hill Society.


Under the Local Government Act (1972), Milton Keynes District was formed by the merger of the urban districts of Bletchley, Newport Pagnell and Wolverton, Newport Pagnell Rural District and part of Wing Rural District. The district was awarded borough status in the same year. The Community Workshop in Galley Hill was opened.


Inter-Action MK is established at Peartree Bridge, offering a venue dedicated to community arts. Milton Keynes City Orchestra is established by Hilary Davan Wetton with a remit to use classical music to transfer the city’s image.


The Railway Cottages in New Bradwell were restored by MK Development Corporation to create an alternative type of living for residents. The Street became a Cooperative.


Liz Leyh creates the Concrete Cows at Stacey Hill Farm (now Milton Keynes Museum).

Queen at centremk1979

Central Milton Keynes Shopping Centre was opened in September – the first ‘shopping mall’ in the UK. The Milton Keynes Bowl opened with a Soul in the Bowl concert.


The Nipponzan-Myohoji monks and nuns establish the first Peace Pagoda in the Western World, above North Willen Lake.


The Central Library & Art Gallery opens and remains as such until MK Gallery is built in 1999. Homeworld exhibition opens in Bradwell Common.


The Central Train Station opens, creating the fast links between MK and London Milton Keynes College was established bringing together the Wolverton & Bletchley colleges.


Living Archive established in Wolverton one of the most successful living history archives. Campbell Park opened and later transferred to the MK Parks Trust and became a hub for outdoor arts, events and public art. MK Hospital Opened after a campaign started in the 70’s titled "Milton Keynes is Dying for a Hospital”.


The Point (the first multiplex cinema in the UK) open for business, it remained as a cinema until 2015.


Energy World Housing Exhibition at Shenley Lodge opened – the culmination of many years collaboration with the Open University on a number of energy efficient housing projects across the city. Work continued afterwards developing the ‘Milton Keynes Energy Cost Index’ which later became the ‘National Home Energy Rating’ and this work formed the basis of the calculations behind the Energy Performance Certificate required when anyone sells a home in England. Also in 1986 the MK Community Foundation was founded - one of the first Community Foundation's in the UK, developing philanthropy to provide financial support to help develop the voluntary sector, and unique in being endowed with property.


The first commercial radio station for Milton Keynes was established in 1989 under the name Horizon Radio.


The Milton Keynes Development Corporation was wound up. The Parks Trust was officially inaugurated. HMP Woodhill, at Milton Keynes, was opened in July. City Church opens with artwork commissioned across the whole building from the spire to the windows.

Bletchley Park1993

Bletchley Park opens to the public to share the secrets of the site and its contributions to WWII.


The National Hockey Stadium was opened and remained in use until its demolition and replacement by the Network Rail Head Offices.


Milton Keynes Borough was made a unitary authority, independent from Buckinghamshire County Council.


The Milton Keynes Theatre & Gallery were opened (later to separate becoming MK Theatre and MK Gallery) after a 25 year campaign.


The Xscape complex was opened: home to the UK’s first indoor real snow and, at the time, longest ski slope.


The population of Milton Keynes borough according to the census was 207,063. The population of the urban area (including Newport Pagnell) was 184,506.


Milton Keynes Lightning ice hockey club was founded.


Milton Keynes Dons Football Club was founded. It had formerly been Wimbledon F.C. who had controversially relocated from London to play in Milton Keynes. The 'Dons' part of the name is a reference to the former club.


The estimated population of Milton Keynes Borough was 224,500. British Touring Cars fill the streets with an estimated 12,000 people visiting Milton Keynes to view the cars as they parade up and down the boulevards.


The estimated population of Milton Keynes Borough was 224,500. The Parks Trust took over the maintenance and upkeep of MK’s green spaces.

Queen at stadiumMK2007

stadiumMK home to MK Dons F.C., was opened by HRH Queen Elizabeth. The Stables expands with ‘Stage 2’; offering a more intimate performance space. The National Museum of Computing opened in 2007. The commercial shopping centres look to the arts to drive up visitors with Light Fantastic; an aerial light and sound show outside M&S with 50,000 spectators.

Milton Keynes celebrates its 40th Birthday. A competition to design a Birthday logo for the City was launched and the resulting 40th logo was utilised across the City. In the summer of 2007 a Birthday Party for the City was held.  The celebrations were called the Big Moo.  Arriva made all bus fares 40p for the event,  there was a Battle of Britain fly-over,  a commemorative first day cover and a successful Official Guinness Book of World Records attempt for the most number of people face painted a Cow!  Even MK Dons Chairman Pete Winkelman got involved with his face being painted as seen on the Commemorative edition of GO! From MK Citizen.  The event was covered on ITV and BBC news programmes. The weekend long party saw over 25,000 people involved, joining in the fun and making the 40th a year to remember.  


Milton Keynes Dons won promotion to League One after winning the League Two title. Milton Keynes’ Fringe Festival is established by artist Sally Annett with a contemporary programme of installations, exhibitions, performances and experiments.


The Royal Train Sheds; once home the Royal Trains, was reopened as award winning apartments. Bletchley Leisure Centre is redeveloped and launched with artists commissions both inside and outside of the building made by Vanessa Dell and the community.


Milton Keynes hosts the first iteration of the biennial IF: Milton Keynes International Festival, produced by The Stables.


An estimated 60,000 people watch local F1 team Red Bull Racing hit the streets of Milton Keynes as they celebrated back-to-back World Championships with their cars and drivers on their Homerun event.


The multi-million pound Network Rail national headquarters building opens in Central Milton Keynes.


International Artist Gordon Young opens his newest piece; MK Rose in Campbell Park for celebration, commemoration and contemplation.


stadiumMK is host to three matches in Rugby World Cup 2015 and Milton Keynes welcomes the world. A new library at Kingston is opened which is largely self-service and volunteer run.


History of MK