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Milton Keynes
MK Montage.jpg
Top to bottom, left to right: The Xscape and Theatre seen from Campbell Park; former railway works and new housing in Wolverton; Milton Keynes Central railway station; the Central Milton Keynes skyline; the central ecumenical Church of Christ the Cornerstone; and Bletchley's high street "Queensway".
Milton Keynes is located in Buckinghamshire
Milton Keynes
Milton Keynes
Area 89 km2 (34 sq mi)
Population 229,941 (Urban Area, 2011 Census)
• Density 2,584/km2 (6,690/sq mi)
Founded 23 January 1967
OS grid reference SP841386
• London 50 mi (80 km)  SSE
Unitary authority
  • Milton Keynes
Ceremonial county
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district MK1–15, MK17, MK19
Dialling code 01908
Police Thames Valley
Fire Buckinghamshire
Ambulance South Central
EU Parliament South East England
UK Parliament
  • Milton Keynes North
  • Milton Keynes South
List of places
52°02′N 0°46′W / 52.04°N 0.76°W / 52.04; -0.76

Milton Keynes ( keenz) is the largest settlement in Buckinghamshire, England, 50 miles (80 km) north-west of London. At the 2011 Census, the population of its urban area was almost 230,000. The River Great Ouse forms its northern boundary; a tributary, the River Ouzel, meanders through its linear parks and balancing lakes. Approximately 25% of the urban area is parkland or woodland and includes two Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).

In the 1960s, the UK Government decided that a further generation of new towns in the South East of England was needed to relieve housing congestion in London. This new town (in planning documents, 'new city'), Milton Keynes, was to be the biggest yet, with a target population of 250,000 and a 'designated area' of about 22,000 acres (9,000 ha). At designation, its area incorporated the existing towns of Bletchley, Fenny Stratford, Wolverton and Stony Stratford, along with another fifteen villages and farmland in between. These settlements had an extensive historical record since the Norman conquest; detailed archaeological investigations prior to development revealed evidence of human occupation from the Neolithic age to modern times, including in particular the Milton Keynes Hoard of Bronze Age gold jewellery. The government established a Development Corporation (MKDC) to design and deliver this New City. The Corporation decided on a softer, more human-scaled landscape than in the earlier English new towns but with an emphatically modernist architecture. Recognising how traditional towns and cities had become choked in traffic, they established a 'relaxed' grid of distributor roads about 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) between edges, leaving the spaces between to develop more organically. An extensive network of shared paths for leisure cyclists and pedestrians criss-crosses through and between them. Again rejecting the residential tower blocks that had been so recently fashionable but unloved, they set a height limit of three storeys outside the planned centre.

Facilities include a 1,400-seat theatre, a municipal art gallery, two multiplex cinemas, an ecumenical central church, a 400-seat concert hall, a teaching hospital, a 30,500-seat football stadium, an indoor ski-slope and a 65,000-capacity open-air concert venue. Seven railway stations serve the Milton Keynes urban area (one inter-city). The Open University is based here and there is a small campus of the University of Bedfordshire. Most major sports are represented at amateur level; Red Bull Racing (Formula One), MK Dons (association football), and Milton Keynes Lightning (ice hockey) are its professional teams. The Peace Pagoda overlooking Willen Lake was the first such to be built in Europe. The many works of sculpture in parks and public spaces include the iconic Concrete Cows at Milton Keynes Museum.

Milton Keynes is among the most economically productive localities in the UK, ranking highly against a number of criteria. It has the UK's fifth highest number of business startups per capita (but equally of business failures). It is home to several major national and international companies. Despite economic success and personal wealth for some, there are pockets of nationally significant poverty. The employment profile is composed of about 90% service industries and 9% manufacturing.


Birth of a "New City"

In the 1960s, the British government decided that a further generation of new towns in the south-east of England was needed to relieve housing congestion in London.

Population trend of Borough and Urban Area 1801–2011

Since the 1950s, overspill housing for several London boroughs had been constructed in Bletchley. Further studies in the 1960s identified north Buckinghamshire as a possible site for a large new town, a new city, encompassing the existing towns of Bletchley, Stony Stratford and Wolverton. The New Town (informally and in planning documents, "New City") was to be the biggest yet, with a target population of 250,000, in a "designated area" of 21,850 acres (34.1 sq mi; 88.4 km2). The name "Milton Keynes" was taken from the existing village of Milton Keynes on the site.

On 23 January 1967 when the formal new town designation order was made, the area to be developed was largely farmland and undeveloped villages. The site was deliberately located equidistant from London, Birmingham, Leicester, Oxford and Cambridge with the intention that it would be self-sustaining and eventually become a major regional centre in its own right. Planning control was taken from elected local authorities and delegated to the Milton Keynes Development Corporation (MKDC). Before construction began, every area was subject to detailed archaeological investigation: doing so has exposed a rich history of human settlement since Neolithic times and has provided a unique insight into the history of a large sample of the landscape of north Buckinghamshire.

The Corporation's strongly modernist designs featured regularly in the magazines Architectural Design and the Architects' Journal. MKDC was determined to learn from the mistakes made in the earlier New Towns and revisit the Garden City ideals. They set in place the characteristic grid roads that run between districts ('grid squares'), as well as the intensive planting, lakes and parkland that are so evident today. While still on the drawing board, planners noticed that the main streets near the proposed city centre would almost frame the rising sun on Midsummer's Day. Greenwich Observatory was consulted to obtain the exact angle required at the latitude of Central Milton Keynes, and they managed to persuade the engineers to shift the grid of roads a few degrees in response. CMK was not intended to be a traditional town centre but a central business and shopping district to supplement Local Centres in most of the grid squares. This non-hierarchical devolved city plan was a departure from the English New Towns tradition and envisaged a wide range of industry and diversity of housing styles and tenures across the city. The largest and almost the last of the British New Towns, Milton Keynes has 'stood the test of time far better than most, and has proved flexible and adaptable'. The radical grid plan was inspired by the work of Californian urban theorist Melvin M. Webber (1921–2006), described by the founding architect of Milton Keynes, Derek Walker (1929–2015), as the "father of the city". Webber thought that telecommunications meant that the old idea of a city as a concentric cluster was out of date and that cities which enabled people to travel around them readily would be the thing of the future achieving "community without propinquity" for residents.

The Government wound up MKDC in 1992, 25 years after the new town was founded, transferring control to the Commission for New Towns (CNT) and then finally to English Partnerships, with the planning function returning to local council control (since 1974 and the Local Government Act 1972, the Borough of Milton Keynes). From 2004 to 2011 a Government quango, the Milton Keynes Partnership, had development control powers to accelerate the growth of Milton Keynes.

Along with many other towns and boroughs, Milton Keynes competed for formal city status in the 2000, 2002 and 2012 competitions, but was not successful. Nevertheless, the term "city" is used by its citizens, local media and bus services to describe itself, perhaps because the term "town" is taken to mean one of the constituent towns. Road signs refer to "Central Milton Keynes" or "Shopping" when directing traffic to its centre.

Prior history


The area that was to become Milton Keynes encompassed a landscape that has a rich historic legacy. The area to be developed was largely farmland and undeveloped villages, but with evidence of permanent settlement dating back to the Bronze Age. Before construction began, every area was subject to detailed archaeological investigation: doing so has provided a unique insight into the history of a large sample of the landscape of south-central England. There is evidence of Iron Age, Romano-British, Anglo-Saxon, Anglo-Norman, Medieval and Industrial revolution settlements. Collections of oral history covering the 20th century completes a picture that is described in detail in another article.

Bletchley Park, the site of World War II British codebreaking and Colossus, the world's first programmable electronic digital computer, is a major component of MK's modern history. It is now a flourishing heritage attraction, receiving hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.

When the boundary of Milton Keynes was defined in 1967, some 40,000 people lived in three towns and fifteen villages or hamlets in the "designated area" of 21,863 acres (8,848 ha).

Urban design

The concepts that heavily influenced the design of the town are described in detail in article urban planning – see 'cells' under Planning and aesthetics (referring to grid squares). See also article single-use zoning.

Since the radical plan form and large scale of Milton Keynes attracted international attention, early phases of development include work by celebrated architects, including Sir Richard MacCormac, Lord Norman Foster, Henning Larsen, Ralph Erskine, John Winter, and Martin Richardson. Led by Lord Campbell of Eskan (Chairman) and Fred Roche (General Manager), the Corporation attracted talented young architects led by the young and charismatic Derek Walker. In the modernist Miesian tradition is the Shopping Building designed by Stuart Mosscrop and Christopher Woodward, a grade II listed building, which the Twentieth Century Society inter alia regards as the 'most distinguished' twentieth century retail building in Britain. The contextual tradition that ran alongside it is exemplified by the Corporation's infill scheme at Cofferidge Close, Stony Stratford, designed by Wayland Tunley, which carefully inserts into a historic stretch of High Street a modern retail facility, offices and car park. The Development Corporation also led an ambitious Public art programme.

The urban design has not been universally praised, however. Francis Tibbalds, president of the Royal Town Planning Institute, described the centre of Milton Keynes as "bland, rigid, sterile, and totally boring."

Grid roads and grid squares

The geography of Milton Keynes – the railway line, Watling Street, Grand Union Canal, M1 motorway – sets up a very strong north-south axis. If you've got to build a city between (them) it is very natural to take a pen and draw the rungs of a ladder. Ten miles by six is the size of this city – 22,000 acres. Do you lay it out like an American city, rigid orthogonal from side to side? Being more sensitive in 1966-7, the designers decided that the grid concept should apply but should be a lazy grid following the flow of land, its valleys, its ebbs and flows. That would be nicer to look at, more economical and efficient to build, and would sit more beautifully as a landscape intervention.

Professor David Lock, CBE

The Milton Keynes Development Corporation planned the major road layout according to street hierarchy principles, using a grid pattern of approximately 1 km (0.62 mi) intervals, rather than on the more conventional radial pattern found in older settlements. Major internal roads run between communities, rather than through them: these distributor roads are known locally as grid roads and the spaces between them – the districts – are known as grid squares. Intervals of 1 km (0.62 mi) were chosen so that people would always be within walking distance of a bus stop. Consequently, each grid square is a semi-autonomous community, making a unique collective of 100 clearly identifiable neighbourhoods within the overall urban environment. The grid squares have a variety of development styles, ranging from conventional urban development and industrial parks to original rural and modern urban and suburban developments. Most grid squares have Local Centres, intended as local retail hubs and most with community facilities as well. Originally intended under the masterplan to sit alongside the Grid Roads, the Local Centres were mostly in fact built embedded in the communities.

Roundabout junctions were built at intersections because the grid roads were intended to carry large volumes of traffic: this type of junction is efficient at dealing with these volumes. Some major roads are dual carriageway, the others are single carriageway. Along one side of each single carriageway grid road there is a (grassed) reservation to permit dualling or additional transport infrastructure at a later date. To date this has been limited. The edges of each grid square are landscaped and densely planted, some additionally have berms. Traffic movements are fast, with relatively little congestion since there are alternative routes to any particular destination other than during the (brief) peak periods. The national speed limit applies on the grid roads, although lower speed limits have been introduced on some stretches to reduce accident rates. Pedestrians rarely need to cross grid roads at grade, as underpasses and bridges exist in frequent places along each stretch of all of the grid roads. However, the new districts to be added by the expansion plans for Milton Keynes are departing from this model, with less separation and using 'at grade' crossings. This approach, which contradicts the original design ethos, has been a cause for conflict between residents and the Council who are often regarded as failing to preserve the unique development style of the city. Monitoring station data shows that pollution is lower than in other settlements of a similar size.

The Redways: a network of shared use paths

Milton Keynes Redway
Cycleway network in Milton Keynes. The national cycle routes are highlighted in red. (Extracted from
© OpenStreetMap contributors).

There is a separate network (approximately 125 miles or 200 kilometres total length) of cycle and pedestrian routes, the "redways", that runs through the grid-squares and often runs alongside the grid-road network. This was designed to segregate slow moving cycle and pedestrian traffic from fast moving motor traffic. In practice, it is mainly used for leisure cycling rather than commuting, perhaps because the cycle routes are shared with pedestrians, cross the grid-roads via bridge or underpass rather than at grade, and because some take meandering scenic routes rather than straight lines. It is so called because it is generally surfaced with red tarmac. The national Sustrans national cycle network routes 6 and 51 take advantage of this system.


The Hub Milton Keynes towers
The Hub:MK, built between 2006 and 2008. The taller glass tower, Manhattan House, has fourteen stories.

The original design guidance declared that "no building [be] taller than the tallest tree". However, the Milton Keynes Partnership, in its expansion plans for Milton Keynes, believed that Central Milton Keynes (and elsewhere) needed "landmark buildings" and subsequently lifted the height restriction for the area. As a result, high rise buildings have been built in the central business district. Four of the pedestrian underpasses were closed to 'normalise' the streetscape of Central Milton Keynes and the character of the area was set to change under government pressure to increase densities of development. These changes are being opposed by pressure groups such as Urban Eden and the Milton Keynes Forum. More recent local plans have protected the existing boulevard framework and underpasses following the dissolution of Milton Keynes Partnership.

Recent large-scale buildings include The Pinnacle:MK on Midsummer Boulevard and the Vizion development on Avebury Boulevard. The Pinnacle was the largest office building to be constructed in Milton Keynes in 25 years. More recently the Network Rail National Centre has been built at the western limit of Silbury Boulevard; this building occupies a large land area but only rises to the equivalent of six storeys; a return towards the design of the original Central Milton Keynes developments.

Linear parks

Caldecotte Lake
Caldecotte Lake, Milton Keynes

The flood plains of the Great Ouse and of its tributaries (the Ouzel and some brooks) have been protected as linear parks that run right through Milton Keynes. The Grand Union Canal is another green route (and demonstrates the level geography of the area – there is just one minor lock in its entire 10-mile (16 km) meandering route through from the southern boundary near Fenny Stratford to the "Iron Trunk" Aqueduct over the Ouse at Wolverton at its northern boundary). The Park system was designed by landscape architect Peter Youngman, who also developed landscape precepts for all development areas: groups of grid squares were to be planted with different selections of trees and shrubs to give them distinct identities. However the landscaping of parks and of the grid roads was evolved under the leadership of Neil Higson, who from 1977 took over as Chief Landscape Architect and made the original grand but not entirely practical landscape plan more subtle.

"City in the forest"

The original Development Corporation design concept aimed for a "forest city" and its foresters planted millions of trees from its own nursery in Newlands in the following years. As of 2006, the urban area has 20 million trees. Following the winding up of the Development Corporation, the lavish landscapes of the Grid Roads and of the major parks were transferred to The Milton Keynes Parks Trust, a charity which is independent from the municipal authority and which was intended to resist pressures to build on the parks over time. The Parks Trust is endowed with a portfolio of commercial properties, the income of which pay for the upkeep of the green spaces.

Further development plans

'City Street', Broughton Gate, Milton Keynes
One of the new 'city streets', an extension of H7 Chaffron Way, in Broughton Gate.

In January 2004, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott announced the Government's plan to double the population of Milton Keynes by 2026. He appointed English Partnerships (EP) to do so, taking planning controls away from Milton Keynes Borough Council and making EP the statutory planning authority. Their proposal for the next phase of expansion moves away from grid squares to large scale, mixed use, higher density development. The more detailed article expands on the details of their proposals. As the first stage in that plan, the Government expanded the boundaries of the designated area, adding large green-field expansion sites to the east and west that were to be developed by 2015.

In June 2004 Milton Keynes Partnership Committee (MKPC), was created by the Government and was a committee of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), the national housing and regeneration agency for England. MKPC was created to ensure a co-ordinated approach to planning and delivery of growth and development in the ‘new city’. Milton Keynes Partnership was disbanded in 2011, holding its last meeting in March of that year. Its functions were folded back into the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), with Milton Keynes Council handling planning permission for established areas of MK.



MK Bowl Concert
65,000 capacity by the Green Day Bullet in a Bible concert at the National Bowl

The open air National Bowl is a 65,000 capacity venue for large scale events.

In Wavendon, the Stables provides a venue for jazz, blues, folk, rock, classical, pop and world music. It was founded by jazz artists Cleo Laine and the late John Dankworth and is now ranked in the UK's top 10 music venues by the Performing Right Society. It presents around 400 concerts and over 200 education events each year and also hosts the National Youth Music Camps summer camp for young musicians. In 2010, it founded the biennial IF Milton Keynes International Festival, producing events in unusual spaces and places across Milton Keynes

MK11 at Kiln Farm Club, based in Kiln Farm near Stony Stratford, was voted as "best live music pub" by readers of local culture magazine Monkey Kettle in 2014.

Arts and literature

The municipal public art gallery, MK Gallery, presents free exhibitions of international contemporary art.

There are two museums:

The 1,400 seat Milton Keynes Theatre opened in 1999. The theatre has an unusual feature: the ceiling can be lowered closing off the third tier (gallery) to create a more intimate space for smaller-scale productions. There are further performance spaces in Bletchley, Wolverton, Leadenhall, Shenley Church End, Stantonbury and Walton Hall.

MK also has a literature scene, with groups like Speakeasy meeting regularly and hosting performance events, and former poetry and arts magazine, Monkey Kettle which ran between 1999 and 2014. In addition, two performance poetry groups exist  – Poetry Kapow!, an offshoot of Monkey Kettle though now independent of the parent organisation, specialising in live, multi-discipline, interactive poetry/art/music events, usually featuring slams; and Tongue in Chic, a regular open mic poetry event which features headline poets such as John Hegley.

In May 2011 the outgoing Mayor, Debbie Brock, announced the appointment of Mark Niel as the first official Milton Keynes' Poet Laureate.

Milton Keynes Arts Centre is situated in the historic village of Great Linford in the north of MK, between Wolverton and Newport Pagnell. Milton Keynes Arts Centre offers a year round exhibitions, families workshops and courses. Situated across many of Great Linford Manor's exterior buildings (barns, Almshouses, Pavilions), the Arts Centre offers a special historical setting.

The Westbury Arts Centre is situated in the west of MK, near Shenley Wood. It is based in a 16th-century grade II listed Farmhouse building. The Art Centre has been providing spaces for professional working artists to create work since 1994. The oldest part of the house was built in the sixteenth century and has been greatly extended over the years. It has several acres of garden and is home to several protected species of bats and newts.

Milton Keynes also boasts several choirs – the Milton Keynes Chorale, the New English Singers, the Cornerstone Choir, Quorum, the Open University Choir, and others.

There is a variety of amateur drama groups, and amateur musical theatre groups.

Milton Keynes Forum is the registered civic society for MK.

Public sculpture

Liz Leyh's iconic "Concrete Cows"

Public sculpture in Milton Keynes includes work by Philip Jackson, Nicolas Moreton, Ronald Rae and Elisabeth Frink.


Milton Keynes has consistently benefited from above-average economic growth. Outside of London it is ranked as one of the most attractive places for business along with Oxford, Cambridge and Manchester.

In November 2012 the Milton Keynes Citizen reported ratings company Experian as describing Milton Keynes as one of the leaders in a prospective economic recovery. The same report quoted the Estate Gazette as placing it first outside the M25 for office property growth.

Milton Keynes is home to several national and international companies, including the UK headquarters of Argos, Domino's Pizza, Marshall Amplification, Mercedes-Benz, Suzuki, Volkswagen AG and Yamaha Kemble.

In January 2015, it was announced that Milton Keynes had seen the highest growth in jobs out of the biggest 64 towns and cities in the UK during the preceding decade. Milton Keynes saw its number of jobs increase by 18.2 per cent between 2004 and 2013, followed by London on 17.1 per cent.


As a key element of the New Town vision, Milton Keynes has a purpose built centre, with a very large "covered high street" shopping centre, theatre, art gallery, two multiplex cinemas, hotels, business district, ecumenical church, Borough Council offices and central railway station.

Other amenities

Gnarled Tree
Part of the Blue Lagoon
  • Near the central station, the former Milton Keynes central bus station has become a youth club called 'the Buszy' with a purpose-built covered "urban skateboarding" arena, but the wide expanses and slopes of the station plaza remain very popular among skaters.
  • There is a high security prison, HMP Woodhill, on the western boundary.
  • Willen Lakeside Park hosts watersports, and the North Lake is a bird sanctuary.
  • The Blue Lagoon Local Nature Reserve is in Bletchley.

Original towns and villages

Bletchley Park
During the Second World War, British, Polish and American cryptographers at Bletchley Park broke a large number of Axis codes and ciphers, including the German Enigma machine.
The 1815 windmill near New Bradwell village, beside the playing fields
StonyStratford HighStreet01
Stony Stratford high street in festive mood
Peace Pagoda

Milton Keynes consists of many pre-existing towns and villages, as well as new infill developments. The designated area outside the four main towns (Bletchley, Newport Pagnell, Stony Stratford, Wolverton) was largely rural farmland but included many picturesque North Buckinghamshire villages and hamlets: Bradwell village and its Abbey, Broughton, Caldecotte, Fenny Stratford, Great Linford, Loughton, Milton Keynes Village, New Bradwell, Shenley Brook End, Shenley Church End, Simpson, Stantonbury, Tattenhoe, Tongwell, Walton, Water Eaton, Wavendon, Willen, Great and Little Woolstone, Woughton on the Green. The historical settlements have been focal points for the modern development of the new town. Every grid square has historical antecedents, if only in the field names. The more obvious ones are listed below and most have more detailed articles.

Bletchley was first recorded in the 12th century as Blechelai. Its station was a major Victorian junction (the London and North Western Railway with the Oxford-Cambridge Varsity Line), leading to the substantial urban growth in the town in that period. It expanded to absorb the villages of Water Eaton and Fenny Stratford.

Bletchley Park was home to the Government Code and Cypher School during the Second World War. The famous Enigma code was cracked here, and the building housed what was arguably the world's first programmable computer, Colossus. The house is now a museum of war memorabilia, cryptography and computing.

The Benedictine Priory of Bradwell Abbey at Bradwell was of major economic importance in this area of north Buckinghamshire before the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The routes of the medieval trackways (many of which are now Redways or bridleways) converge on the site from some distance. Nowadays there is only a small medieval chapel and a manor house occupying the site.

New Bradwell, to the north of the medieval Bradwell (Abbey) and just across the canal and the railway to the east of Wolverton, was built specifically for railway workers. It has a working windmill, although technically this lies just a few yards outside of the parish boundary. The level bed of the old Wolverton to Newport Pagnell Line ends here and has been converted to a Redway, making it a favourite route for cycling.

Great Linford appears in the Domesday Book as Linforde, and features a church dedicated to Saint Andrew, dating from 1215. Today, the outer buildings of the 17th century manor house form an arts centre, and Linford Manor is a prestigious recording studio.

Milton Keynes Village is the original village to which the New Town owes its name. The original village is still evident, with a pleasant thatched pub, village hall, church and traditional housing. The area around the village has reverted to its original name of Middleton, as shown on old maps of the 1700s. The oldest surviving domestic building in the area, a 14th-century manor house, is here.

There has been a market in Stony Stratford since 1194 (by charter of King Richard I). The Rose and Crown Inn at Stratford is reputedly the last place the Princes in the Tower were seen alive.

The manor house of Walton village, Walton Hall, is the headquarters of the Open University and the tiny parish church (deconsecrated) is in its grounds.

The tiny Parish Church (1680) at Willen contains the only unaltered building by the architect and physicist Robert Hooke. Nearby, there is a Buddhist Temple and a Peace Pagoda which was built in 1980 and was the first in the western world. The district borders the River Ouzel: there is a large balancing lake here, to capture flash floods before they cause problems downstream on the River Great Ouse. The north basin is a wildlife sanctuary and a favourite of migrating aquatic birds. The south basin is for leisure use, favoured by wind surfers and dinghy sailors. The circuit of the lakes is a favoured "fun run".

The original Wolverton was a medieval settlement just north and west of today's town. The ridge and furrow pattern of agriculture can still be seen in the nearby fields and the Saxon (rebuilt in 1819) Church of the Holy Trinity still stands next to the Norman Motte and Bailey site. Modern Wolverton was a 19th-century New Town built to house the workers at the Wolverton railway works, which built engines and carriages for the London and North Western Railway.

Economy, finances and business

In 2014 and 2017, Milton Keynes ranked third in terms of contribution to the national economy, as measured by gross value added per worker, of the 63 largest conurbations in the UK. In 2020, its ranking slipped to seventh.

Major businesses

Milton Keynes has consistently benefited from above-average economic growth, ranked as one of the UK's top five cities. In 2020 it was ranked sixth of 63 for business startups (per 10,000 people).

Milton Keynes is home to several national and international companies, notably Argos, Domino's Pizza, Marshall Amplification, Mercedes-Benz, Suzuki, Volkswagen Group, Red Bull Racing, Network Rail, and Yamaha Music Europe.

Santander UK and the Open University are major employers locally.

Small and medium enterprise

In 2013, 99.4% of enterprises being SMEs, just 0.6% of businesses locally employ more than 250 people (but more than one third of employees), whereas 81.5% employ fewer than 10 people. The 'professional, scientific and technical sector' contributes the largest number of business units, 16.7%. The retail sector is the largest contributor of employment. Milton Keynes has one of the highest number of business start-ups in England, but also of failures. Although education, health and public administration are important contributors to employment, the contribution is significantly less than the averages for England or the South East.


75% of the population is economically active, including 8.3% (of the population) who are self-employed. 90% work in service industries of various sorts (of which wholesale and retail is the largest sector) and 9% in manufacturing.

Social inequality

In 2015, the Borough of Milton Keynes had nine 'lower super output areas' that are in the 10% most deprived in England, but also had twelve 'lower super output areas' in the 10% least deprived in England. This contrast between areas of affluence and areas of deprivation in spite of a thriving local economy, inspired local charity The Community Foundation (in its 2016 'Vital Signs' report) to describe the position as a 'Tale of Two Cities'.

In 2018, the number of homeless young people sleeping rough in tents around CMK attracted national headlines as it became the apex of a national problem of poverty, inadequate mental health care and unaffordable housing. On a visit to refurbishment and extension work on the YMCA building, Housing Minister Heather Wheeler declared that 'Nobody in this day and age should be sleeping on the street'.

Closest cities, towns and villages



Milton Keynes University Hospital, in the Eaglestone district, is an NHS general hospital with an Accident and Emergency unit. It is associated for medical teaching purposes with the University of Buckingham medical school. There are two small private hospitals: BMI Healthcare's Saxon Clinic and Ramsay Health Care's Blakelands Hospital.


There is a Category A male prison, HMP Woodhill, on the western boundary. A section of the prison is a Young Offenders Institution.


The Grand Union Canal passes over Grafton Street at New Bradwell via the modern New Bradwell Aqueduct.

The Grand Union Canal, the West Coast Main Line, the A5 road and the M1 motorway provide the major axes that influenced the urban designers.

The urban area is served by seven railway stations. Wolverton, Milton Keynes Central and Bletchley stations are on the West Coast Main Line and are served by local commuter services between London and Birmingham or Crewe. Milton Keynes Central is also served by inter-city services between London and Scotland, Wales and the North West and the West Midlands of England: express services to London take 35 minutes. Bletchley, Fenny Stratford, Bow Brickhill, Woburn Sands and Aspley Guise railway stations are on the Marston Vale line to Bedford.

The M1 motorway runs along the east flank of MK and serves it from junctions 11a, 13, 14 and 15. The A5 road runs right through as a grade separated dual carriageway. Other main roads are the A509 to Wellingborough and Kettering, and the A421 and A422, both running west towards Buckingham and east towards Bedford. Additionally, the A4146 runs from (near) junction 14 of the M1 to Leighton Buzzard. Proximity to the M1 has led to construction of a number of distribution centres, including Magna Park at the south-eastern flank of Milton Keynes, near Wavendon.

Many long-distance coaches stop at the Milton Keynes coachway, (beside M1 Junction 14), about 3.3 miles (5.3 km) from the centre and 4.3 mi (7 km) from Milton Keynes Central railway station. There is also a park and ride car park on the site. Regional coaches stop at Milton Keynes Central.

Milton Keynes is served by (and, via its Redway network, provides part of) routes 6 and 51 on the National Cycle Network.

The nearest international airport is London Luton and is easily reached by coach. Cranfield Airport, an airfield, is 8 miles (13 km) away.

Twin towns


Milton Keynes experiences an oceanic climate (Köppen climate classification Cfb) similar to almost all of the United Kingdom. Recorded temperature extremes range from 34.6 °C (94.3 °F) during July 2006, to as low as −20.6 °C (−5.1 °F) on 25 February 1947. More recently the temperature fell to −16.3 °C (2.7 °F) on 20 December 2010

The nearest Met Office weather station is in Woburn, located just outside the south eastern fringe of the Milton Keynes urban area.

Climate data for Woburn 1981–2010 (Weather station 3 mi (5 km) to the SE of Central Milton Keynes)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 7.0
Average low °C (°F) 1.3
Average precipitation mm (inches) 54.2
Mean monthly sunshine hours 52.0 69.4 105.5 147.4 183.4 179.9 197.1 189.0 137.0 105.6 61.7 43.5 1,471.6
Source: Met Office


Population trend of Borough and Urban Area 1801–2011

At the 2011 census, the population of the Milton Keynes urban area, including the adjacent Newport Pagnell and Woburn Sands, was 229,941. The population of the Borough in total was 248,800, compared with a population of around 53,000 for the same area in 1961. In 2016, the Office for National Statistics estimated that it will reach 300,000 by 2025. As of June 2019, the population is estimated to have reached 245,404.

The average age of the population is lower than is typical for the UK's 63 primary urban areas: 25.3% of the Borough population were aged under 18 (5th place) and 13.4% were aged 65+ (57th out of 63). The "mean age is 35.7 and the median age is 35. 18.5% of residents were born outside the UK (11th). At the 2011 census, the ethnic profile was 78.9% white, 3.4% mixed, 9.7% Asian/Asian British, 7.3% Black/African/Caribbean/Black British, and 0.7% other. The religious profile was that 62.0% of people were reported having a religion and 31.4% having none; the remainder declined to say: 52% are Christian, 5.1% Muslim, 3.0% Hindu; other religions each had less than 1% of the population.

Culture, media and sport


MK Bowl Concert
65,000 capacity by the Green Day Bullet in a Bible concert at the National Bowl

The open-air National Bowl is a 65,000-capacity venue for large-scale events.

In Wavendon, the Stables – founded by the jazz musicians Cleo Laine and John Dankworth – provides a venue for jazz, blues, folk, rock, classical, pop and world music. It presents around 400 concerts and over 200 educational events each year and also hosts the National Youth Music Camps summer camp for young musicians. In 2010, the Stables founded the biennial IF Milton Keynes International Festival, producing events in unconventional spaces and places across Milton Keynes.

Milton Keynes City Orchestra is a professional freelance orchestra based at Woughton Campus.

Arts, cinema, theatre and museums

The municipal public art gallery, MK Gallery, presents free exhibitions of international contemporary art. The gallery was extended and remodelled in 2018/19 and includes an art-house cinema. There are also two multiplex cinemas; one in CMK and one in Denbigh.

In 1999, the adjacent 1,400-seat Milton Keynes Theatre opened. The theatre has an unusual feature: the ceiling can be lowered closing off the third tier (gallery) to create a more intimate space for smaller-scale productions. There is a further professional performance space in Stantonbury.

Liz Leyh's iconic Concrete Cows

There are three museums: the Bletchley Park complex, which houses the museum of wartime cryptography; the National Museum of Computing (adjacent to Bletchley Park, with a separate entrance), which includes a working replica of the Colossus computer; and the Milton Keynes Museum, which includes the Stacey Hill Collection of rural life that existed before the foundation of MK, the British Telecom collection, and the original Concrete Cows. Other numerous public sculptures in Milton Keynes include work by Elisabeth Frink, Philip Jackson, Nicolas Moreton and Ronald Rae.

Milton Keynes Arts Centre offers a year-round exhibition programme, family workshops and courses. The Centre is based in some of Linford Manor's historical exterior buildings, barns, almshouses and pavilions. The Westbury Arts Centre in Shenley Wood is based in a 16th-century grade II listed farmhouse building. Westbury Arts has been providing spaces and studios for professional artists since 1994.

Communications and media

For television, the area is allocated to BBC East and Anglia ITV. For radio, Milton Keynes is served by Heart East (a regional commercial station based locally) and two community radio stations (MKFM and Secklow 105.5). BBC Three Counties Radio is the local BBC Radio station. CRMK (Cable Radio Milton Keynes) is a voluntary station broadcasting on the Internet.

As of September 2021, Milton Keynes has one local newspaper, the Milton Keynes Citizen, which has a significant online presence.


Denbigh stadium east stand 16 May 07
Stadium MK (in 2007)

Milton Keynes has professional teams in football (Milton Keynes Dons F.C. at Stadium MK), in ice hockey (Milton Keynes Lightning at Planet Ice Milton Keynes), and in Formula One (Red Bull Racing).

The Xscape indoor ski slope and the iFLY indoor sky diving facility are important attractions in CMK; the National Badminton Centre in Loughton is home to the national badminton squad and headquarters of Badminton England.

Many other sports are represented at amateur level.

Near the central station, in a space beside the former Milton Keynes central bus station, there is a purpose-built street skateboarding plaza named the Buszy.

Willen Lake hosts watersports on the south basin.



In early planning, education provision was carefully integrated into the development plans with the intention that school journeys would, as far as possible, be made by walking and cycling. Each residential grid square was provided with a primary school (ages 5 to 8) for c.240 children, and for each two squares there was a middle school (ages 8 to 12) for c.480 children. For each 8 squares there was a large secondary education campus, to contain between two and four schools for a total of 3000 – 4500 children. All the schools on a campus were served by a central Resource Area. In addition, the campus included a Leisure Centre with indoor and outdoor sports facilities and a swimming pool, plus a theatre. These facilities were available to the public outside school hours, thus maximising use of the investment. Changes in Central Government policy from the 1980s onwards subsequently led to much of this system being abandoned. Some schools have since been merged and sites sold for development, many converted to academies, and the leisure centres outsourced to commercial providers.

As in most parts of the UK, the state secondary schools in Milton Keynes are comprehensives, although schools in the rest of Buckinghamshire still use the tripartite system. Private schools are also available.

Universities and colleges

The Open University's headquarters are in the Walton Hall district; though because this is a distance learning institution, the only students resident on campus are approximately 200 full-time postgraduates. Cranfield University, an all-postgraduate institution, is in nearby Cranfield, Bedfordshire. Milton Keynes College provides further education up to foundation degree level. A campus of the University of Bedfordshire provides some tertiary education facilities locally. As of 2020, Milton Keynes is the UK's largest population centre without its own conventional university, a shortfall that the Council aims to rectify. In January 2019, the Council and its partner, Cranfield University, invited proposals to design a campus near the Central station for a new university, code-named MK:U. Through Milton Keynes University Hospital, the city also has links with the University of Buckingham's medical school.

City development archive and library

Milton Keynes City Discovery Centre at Bradwell Abbey holds an extensive archive about the planning and development of Milton Keynes and has an associated research library. The Centre also offers an education programme (with a focus on urban geography and local history) to schools, universities and professionals.

Notable people


  • Charles Ademeno, former professional footballer
  • Dele Alli, professional footballer
  • Andrew Baggaley, English table tennis champion
  • Brothers George and Sam Baldock, professional footballers.
  • Ben Chilwell, professional footballer
  • Chris Clarke, English sprinter
  • Lee Hasdell, professional Mixed martial artist and Kickboxer
  • James Hildreth, professional cricketer
  • Liam Kelly, professional footballer
  • Kwame Nkrumah-Acheampong the only Ghanaian winter Olympian.
  • Craig Pickering, English sprinter
  • Ian Poulter, PGA & European Tour golf professional. Member of the 2010 and 2012 European Ryder Cup Teams
  • Mark Randall, professional footballer
  • Antonee Robinson, professional footballer
  • Greg Rutherford, long jump gold medallist for Team GB at the 2012 Olympic Games
  • Ed Slater, professional rugby union player
  • Fallon Sherrock, professional darts player.
  • Sam Tomkins, professional rugby league player
  • Dan Wheldon (1978–2011), Indy car driver
  • Leah Williamson, professional footballer


  • Jim Marshall (1923–2012), founder and CEO of Marshall Amplification was living in and ran his business from Milton Keynes when he died
  • Pete Winkelman, Chairman of Milton Keynes Dons Football Club, owner of Linford Manor recording studios, long-term resident


  • Christopher B-Lynch, (visiting) Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Cranfield University, responsible for inventing the eponymously named B-Lynch suture
  • Alan P. F. Sell (1935–2016), academic and theologian lived in the town in his later years and died there
  • Alan Turing (1912–1954), played a significant role in the creation of the modern computer. He lodged at the Crown Inn, Shenley Brook End, while working at Bletchley Park

Stage, screen and media

  • Errol Barnett, an anchor and correspondent for CNN
  • Emily Bergl, an actress known for her roles in Desperate Housewives and Shameless
  • Richard Macer, documentary maker
  • Clare Nasir, the meteorologist, TV and radio personality, was born in Milton Keynes in 1970
  • Kevin Whately, professional actor


  • Sarah Pinborough, English horror writer
  • Jack Trevor Story, novelist, was a long-term resident of Milton Keynes



  • Adam Ficek, drummer of London band Babyshambles
  • Gordon Moakes, the bassist for the London-based rock band Bloc Party


  • Capdown, a ska punk band, came from and formed in Milton Keynes in 1997
  • Fellsilent, a metal band, come from and formed in Milton Keynes in 2003
  • Tesseract, a djent band, formed as a full live act in Milton Keynes in 2007. Tesseract's guitarist, songwriter and producer Acle Kahney is also a former member of Fellsilent.
  • Hacktivist, a Grime and djent band
  • RavenEye, the rock band, formed in Milton Keynes in 2014

Freedom of the Borough

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Milton Keynes para niños

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