Milton Keynes Through the Lens (2014)


Using archive footage, this documentary looks at Milton Keynes, through it’s development as a new city in the late 1960’s. A Living Archive film event.

Director: Roger Kitchen.


4stars-Very good lots to enjoy 1


Roger Kitchen.
Writer: Roger Kitchen.


Historian Roger Kitchen, from Living Archive, has compiled a collection of documentary films made in the Milton Keynes Area over the last 70 years. They chart the changing landscape and stories as a collection of villages becomes the “city” Milton Keynes.


It may be hard to believe for some who have lived in the district for more than years than they’d care to remember, but in 2017 the city of Milton Keynes will turn 50.

A time for a mid-life crisis in many a human, but not for an evolving city (with one of the healthiest, growing economies in the UK I might add) that can look affectionately, perhaps wistfully, at its recent past.

Living Archive, a local charity which collects, preserves and shares the history and heritage of Milton Keynes, have collated a series of films from local people and bigger documentary and current affairs programmes, to build up a picture of how Milton Keynes came to be. 

The images, of course, are irreplaceable and unique, coming in some cases from the cameras of local people themselves. These include such baffling but amusing additions like the wheelbarrow races that used to be held in the district (can someone please resurrect these?!). These people give authoritative and, at times, very funny recollections about these times.

Better still are the awesome aerial shots of the city as it takes shape, revealing the scale of its genesis, and when Milton Keynes was completed.

Clearly, these images stirred memories in the audience at the most recent screening, held in conjunction with the Stony Scala Film Club and the MK Community Foundation, for there was much hushed chatter from people at the nearly sell out screening.

It was also amazing to see a transport experiment from the 1970’s that could only have sounded good on a town planner’s notepad – the ‘Dial-a-Bus’ scheme where you phone for a bus and it comes direct to your bus stop (if only such a thing could work)!

There was also some sadness as we see not only how the town has grown, but how the march of progress necessitates the obliteration of some areas, the old giving way to the new.

It is all too easy to take one’s home town for granted. I approached this film from a different perspective as I come from Warwickshire where Milton Keynes has traditionally being a bit of a joke: too new, too clean, too neat, too little history to count as a ‘real place’. This film shows that there is already a wealth of history and culture in Milton Keynes, even after such a relatively brief time.

For a relative newbie such as myself, it’s useful to see where my new home came from and what it has to offer – the film should be required viewing by all people moving here, as the perfect induction to Milton Keynes.


2 thoughts on “Milton Keynes Through the Lens (2014)

  1. Aaron

    I’m fascinated with the history of Milton Keynes, I would love to see this film, but as i currently live in swansea, South Wales I guess there’s no chance of me being able to watch it ?

    I’m sure many people would donate if you put the film online and asked for a small donation to be able to watch it.

    I miss MK and will be moving back one day! I can only hope the film will be screened at some point in the future when I’m living back there.


    • Jason Day

      Hi Aaron, thank you for the comments.

      That’s a really good point about the film being available online and I will forward on your view to the Living Archive people.

      Unless, of course, you happen to be in Olney, Bucks on Friday 17 April, the date of the next screening!

      Best wishes,



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