Interview with Ray Bellchambers (b.1919).
Ray Bellchambers has lived in the area all his life. His local knowledge, from working on Newport Pagnell farms during the war, proved useful in the development of Milton Keynes. As a long-serving Councillor on Newport Pagnell Rural District Council, he was selected as one of the first two Local Authority representatives on the Milton Keynes Development Corporation (MKDC) Board. Ray talks of the local difficulties in the area prior to Milton Keynes; farm mechanisation had led to unemployment of farm workers and more investment was required. He recalls the local authority responses to the Master Plan for Milton Keynes and a consultation with the existing villages within the Designated Area.
Ray recalls attending presentations and meetings with architects in London who sought to work on MK – ‘the biggest planning job in the country at the time’. He notes that Llewellyn Davis & Partners particularly considered social development as well as economics, traffic and transport. Talking of the development of the plans for the new town, Ray discusses topics such as the effect of relocation of industries on employment levels, training, disadvantaged groups, provision of childcare. Specific employers mentioned are the Ministry of Defence and the Open University. The proposed third London Airport (at Cublington) was not welcomed. Discussing housing, he recalls the effect of the shortage of bricks on housing at the time, and objections being raised about the flat-roofed housing at Coffee Hall. Planning for transport was difficult because of the rapid increases in private cars. Many of the early ideas about public transport were never implemented. Ray was also instrumental in establishing the Stacey Hill Museum.