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Archive for March, 2014

Many of you may have watched and enjoyed the television series with Michael Portillo travelling the length and breadth of the UK, following the Bradshaw Guides –  a comprehensive series of railway timetables compiled by George Bradshaw (1801-1853); if you did you may have noticed in one of the episodes Michael alighted from his train at Fenny Stratford railway station.

This old photograph shows clearly how the railway lines and sidings used to be. It’s strange really because as a child I used to travel on the line a lot and I was convinced there were platforms on both sides of the main track, looking at the photograph now though has proved me wrong. Nowadays of course there is just a single line running through the station.

View of Fenny Stratford station with the Brickhill Woods in the background

View of Fenny Stratford station with the Brickhill Woods in the background

Fifty years ago of course Richard Beeching’s axe meant the end for many rural railway lines. The famous ‘Varsity Line’ between Oxford and Cambridge was badly affected; there was no longer a rail link between Oxford and Bletchley, also the Bletchley to Cambridge line was to end at Bedford. Now of course a new rail consortium is planning a new high-speed East-West rail link, running along the upgraded original track. So really in hindsight perhaps Beechng should have in this particular case left things alone. I should imagine though now with this new project Fenny Stratford station will once again revert back to its ‘two’ tracks as it was in its heyday.

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Bletchley – City

Govt. Planners Suggest 100,000 by 1981 Two Town Centres?

Government planners have chosen the Bletchley area as the site for a possible new city which, “in the very long term”, might house a quarter of a million people. They foresee that the present population may explode from its present figure to something near 100,000 by 1981.

This tremendous news was given when the report of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government’s study on expansion in South East England was published together with a White Paper.

The use of the words “Bletchley area” would seem to imply that the big expansion would be more than just a growth of the present Bletchley town. Cllr. H. J. Price thinks the new development would be shaped like a figure eight, having two centres, one of them being the present town centre. The second part of the city, in some people’s view would run out towards the M1.

But the County Planning Officer , Mr Fred Pooley , is insisting that Bletchley itself will not be part of the proposed city, The town will retain its identity, he says.

About Bletchley the report says; “The area is near the main lines of communication (including the M1 and the main railway line, which is being electrified ) between the West Midlands and London. “It would be difficult to find an area which would be more attractive to industrialists”.

Most in Favour

Most local people seem to be in favour of the proposal. Market-day shoppers on Thursday talked of little else.

A Bletchley Road shopkeeper said that there had been hardly any other topic of conversation among customers – and most seemed to welcome the idea.

Most housewives were, naturally enough, mostly concerned with the better shopping facilities expansion would bring. One woman – a newcomer to the town – said she was looking forward to the prospect of having a greater variety of shops – not just supermarkets.

A young married woman who recently came to Bletchley from London said : “This is marvellous news. I have been missing the shops and having somewhere to go in the evening. Apart from one picture-house there’s nothing here is there? ”

 

Bletchley Road in the 1960s

Bletchley Road in the 1960s

 

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Bletchley photos!

Looking through the BCH archive today I found this lovely old photograph dated 1920! Because of its age I thought it more appropriate to keep it in sepia, with the help of Photoshop some of the worst blemishes have been hopefully removed, granted it’s a bit speckled but it’s not wearing too badly for its 94 years. We can enhance pictures at BCH so don’t let that put you off bringing in photographs to us that may have seen better days.

Bletchley Fire Brigade crew stand proudly by their fire engine.

Bletchley Fire Brigade crew stand proudly by their fire engine.

In our archive we do have some old photographs of some of the old fire engines that used to be in Bletchley over the years. As a child I can remember the siren sounding at the Council Office building and the firemen racing to the fire station in Church Street; one fireman in particular always seemed to be getting dressed as he cycled, no hands on the handlebars of his bike. 

Looking at the picture I see that on the water tender at the back is a ‘brakeman’, presumably to make it more stable if the water tank was full. You also may recognise the back of the Bletchley Road Schools.

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This picture of Bletchley Cubs may well trigger off a few happy memories. Looking at the reference on the photograph I see it was dated 1953, so it looks very much to me that the Union Jacks being waved must I imagine be possibly commemorating the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth 2. If you have any memories of your days in the Cub or Scout organisations in Bletchley please let us know.

Waving their flags!

Waving their flags!

Anybody recognise some of the ‘smiling’ faces?

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This year as many of you know commemorates the 100th Anniversary of the outbreak of The First World War. This old photograph of the period shows a horse drawn float, possibly fund raising for the war effort or maybe even raising funds for a hospital!

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