Background of Living Archive MK - Creative Placemaking Since The 1970s

Pioneer Tales book
Pioneer Tales book
Hawtin Mundy
Hawtin Mundy
The Rockets
The Rockets

Milton Keynes, fifty miles north of London, is the United Kingdom’s fastest-growing new town. Change has been a way of life for more than 50 years. A rural population has watched its old landmarks disappear. Newcomers have left their family and friendship support networks behind as they have moved to brand-new housing estates.

The challenge – inspiring a sense of place

How do you help the old-time residents retain pride in their lives and histories that seem to be being destroyed in the name of progress? How do you give the new arrivals the experience of coming into a place which has a past as well as a future? These were the challenges which led to the establishment of Living Archive MK. It is a creative cultural and community development organisation that uses documentary arts work – inspired by people’s memories – to create a sense of place, history and belonging. It has developed its creative placemaking activities over the last 35 years and was formally established in 1984.

Creating community through creative arts

Using local lives, reminiscence and events as their starting point, Living Archive has created the most powerful expression of Milton Keynes’ social history: 11 large-scale musical documentary plays; over 100 films; over 20 books; photographic exhibitions; radio and video documentaries; sculpture events; community textile projects; dance shows; webpage design and creation; and hundreds of digital stories.

Local people of all ages and backgrounds have been actively involved in all stages of this work – in interviewing, research, in writing, performing, creating songs and music, sewing textiles, making costumes and stage props, organising exhibitions, editing books, film making, creating websites and much more.

Using memories of MK, we bring people together, uniting our local community through creativity and helping them to make new memories and friendships that will last far into the future.

Read our Strategic Plan for 2023-2025 by clicking on the document below


Comments about this page

  • hello my name is Rosalie Osborne born 8 10 1938 New Bradwell Rosalie Goodman daughter of Ted Goodman at the age 7 years old lived in Stony Stratford went to York House School next door to where i lived Loved dancing each week held either Science and Art or Drill Hall Wolverton along with friend Judith Barlow when young went to Gwen Randal dancing school we gave concerts around all the villages married John Osborne well known in area for singing both choir and solo work had his own choir Stratford Singers i was in Wolverton pantomime each year 1950’s Gwen Randal provided the dancing now live 4 Hawkins Close Stony Stratford father owner of scrap yard opposite New Inn New Bradwell 2 other scrap yards 1Newport Road one in Bletchley still there today 11-10-2023 iRemember bands orchestras such fun that’s how it was 1950’s teenage years wonderful memories cousins all played and went on holiday together in caravans my father mother Resevoir Goodman true Romany Gypsy nee Smith Loveridge married house owner Edward Goodman rest is our history give talks on “Forgotten-Years” history of the Romany Gypsy Traveler and what it means to be one of the Goodman family the story of living with belief’s i still believe in

    By rosalie Osborne (11/10/2023)
  • I was born in Bletchley in 1964 in the Castles Estate and the things I particularly remember are the old Chandlers store on the corner of Shenley Road and Buckingham Road. He delivered our groceries on Fridays on a bicycle long before the Brunel centre was built and before Sainsbury’s. We went to Gilbert and Sullivan operettas at Wilton Hall where there were sometimes craft fairs. Church Green Road school was the infant school my sister went to and in 1966 she saw the late Queen visit. I also remember a fishmonger van, a butchers van, milk van, coal and rag and bone men and a laundry van regularly coming to the Castles Estate.

    In the town centre the biggest shop was a Co-op department store where you could use both their stamps and Green Shield stamps for payment to buy clothes and household goods. Pre the Brunel centre shops were terraced buildings in the main but there was a Woolworths and later a Wimpy Bar a pre cursor to MacDonalds. When it rained in Bletchley the sky would often turn yellow due to the sulphur from the brickworks in Newton Longville. There was no central heating back then or double glazing, phone boxes were used before folk got their first dial phones and it was only in the late 1960s that we got a TV which was in black and white but eventually it had three channels.

    I thought I’d share this now for younger generations born in Bletchley to know what life was like for my generation. Gone is Church Green Road School and Castles school on Warwick Road, gone too I suspect is the thatched dairy on Buckingham Road which was on fire as I made my way to school one day (Holne Chase). What I find strange is still not knowing what trades and industries Bletchley was built upon. Newer towns like Welwyn Garden City seem to have more history than Bletchley aside from Bletchley Park. I know all about that as my Dad worked there after the war for the Civil Aviation Authority. It was also used by British Telecom and the Territorial Army, and I used to wonder in for free and was very disappointed never to have been stopped by any security teams for I knew it had been a secret place during WWII even as a child. Just across the way was the Grammar School where my siblings went but I went to Lord Grey. I only dimly remember the surrounding fields pre Milton Keynes, lots of hedgerows, few roundabouts but I did liked the then new Mount Farm Lake.

    By Mel (03/04/2023)
  • Hello Was interested to find this site on the web.
    I worked for Milton Keynes DevelopmentCorp from 1972 to 1978 and have fond memories of my time there. I worked with Peter Waugh and my friend Penny Yeo worked for Peter Waterman. Then worked for Bill Mather.
    I knew the area around Wavendon Tower walking to the village of Wavendon and the nursery in that lovely village. We moved away from Woburn Sands 21 years ago and was sad when returning to see Wavendon now a huge housing estate…which swallowed all my memories of that era.
    So many changes… so glad we moved to Norfolk! !
    Is Wavendon Tower still there? If so hope it retained it’s original features.

    By Lynda Hougham (30/03/2019)

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