Author Archive Bryan

The Birth of Milton Keynes

Half a century ago, most of North Bucks was in agricultural use. The small railway town of Wolverton, developed in the 19th century, was the only town of any significance, although smaller market towns such as Stony Stratford, Olney, Newport Pagnell and Fenny Stratford might quarrel with that assessment. Bletchley had developed at a pace since the end of World War II.

In the 1960s the government was seeking to build a large new town to accommodate a rising population. Several locations were considered but North Bucks seemed to be leading the way, and in January 1967 the new town, to be named Milton Keynes, was announced.

Since then the new town has reached its projected target population of 250,000 and is still growing.

John Taylor has embarked on a series of books describing the genesis of Milton Keynes and will be completed in three or four volumes. Volume 1, Decision, details the political wrangling leading u to the January 1967 decision; Volume 2, The Master Plan, describes how the Development Corporation and leading town planners developed a framework and a plan for the new town. Further volumes will detail the implementation and development of the new town.

Volume 1: Decision was published in hardcover in January 2017 and in paperback the following year. Both are in print: Hardcover: ISBN: 9781909054400 £20; Paperback: ISBN: 9781909054455 £11.99

Volume 2: The Master Plan is published in hardcover in 2019. A paperback edition will follow next year. ISBN: 9781909054592 £20

George Castleden, Bard of Woburn

George Castleden (1804-1884) was a prolific letter-writer and poet from Woburn, in Bedfordshire. The son of the local Congregationalist preacher, he worked as a clerk in the Duke of Bedford’s offices at Woburn Abbey for twenty years. As well as many published poetical works, he also wrote extensively to the local papers. His subjects were as diverse as the trees in Woburn Park, the national and local political scene and elections, the education system, Britain’s wars, the Irish famine, European Royalty, the American Civil War, an assassination attempt on Queen Victoria, and how to bottle sunbeams for use on cold winter nights!
A Liberal Whig non-conformist, as well as being an abolitionist, temperance-supporting pacifist, he wrote openly and honestly about not only the important matters of the day, but also the trivial. His critics sarcastically labelled him the Bard of Woburn; a name he felt honoured to accept.
For the first time, his newspaper letters and poems have been collected together and presented in a chronological format, with a detailed biography and bibliography.

The Lost Streets of Wolverton

This book was written ten years ago and first published in 2010. The recent publication of Pure Republic, which covers some of the same ground, prompted me to revise the original book. Some material has been updated or corrected and there is some new information. Parts, which wherefore appropriate to Pure Republic, have been discarded. The book is now more focussed on the creation of the new town and community and specifically concentrates of the years from 1838 to 1860.

The new edition is printed with colour illustrations and is issued in paperback (ISBN: 9781909054004). priced at £11.99 and hardcover (ISBN: 9781909054578), at a retail price of £20.

A history of Wolverton and District

This is an ambitious project, many years in the making, undertaken by Wolverton-born historian, Bryan Dunleavy. Extensive archaeological activity over the past 70 years has revealed a great deal about the early settlement of the area. Wolverton and Hanslope became the centres of baronial power after 1066 and the development of Stony Stratford at the end of the 12th century created an important stopover on the Watling Street. The district was connected to several royal events during the Middle Ages and in 1464 a local woman, Elizabeth Woodville from Grafton, became queen of England.

In 1800 the Grand Junction canal was completed  and 38 years later, the completion of the London and Birmingham Railway, brought rural North Bucks and South Northants into the industrial age.

Publication is scheduled for March 1 2019. The book will be published as a single hardcover book of 1200 pages and in three paperback volumes of approximately 400 pages each.