West Bletchley

Bletchley is the largest of the older towns incorporated in the new town of Milton Keynes. It lies in the south-west corner closest to London. West Bletchley is used to describe that area of Bletchley to the west of the main railway line. It includes the original village of Bletchley. It is shortly expected to attain parish status. When it does, the parish electorate of 16,142 will be the largest in Milton Keynes. Its population of 21,639 also makes it the most concentrated residential area in Milton Keynes.

Although Romano-British remains have been excavated, Bletchley is basically Saxon in origin. The name means Blecca's meadow (or ley implying a forest clearing). Although in medieval times it was part of the manor of Water Eaton, its church established it as the ecclesiastical centre just as Fenny Stratford on Watling Street between Water Eaton and Simpson became the commercial centre. 'Rectory Cottages' contains a unique vernacular Hammer-beam roof. Far Bletchley became separate because it was held by a different landlord from what is now Old Bletchley. Fenny Stratford parish was established later and then split by the railway. The western half of Fenny known as Denbigh is also in West Bletchley. Thus Bletchley consisted of the three parishes of Bletchley, Water Eaton and Fenny Stratford. The latter included what is now Central Bletchley. West Bletchley consists of Old Bletchley, Far Bletchley and Denbigh.

Ever since Watling Street was built in Roman times, Bletchley has had a role as a transport nexus including the era of the Stage Coach, the Grand Union Canal and Stephenson's Railway which for some time terminated at Denbigh. It is partly the transport factor that led to the code breaking centre at Bletchley Park (on the London mainline halfway between Oxford and Cambridge) during the Second World War. It is claimed that Bletchley Park not only shortened the Second World War but was arguably the birthplace of the modern computer. Although overshadowed for some time by Milton Keynes, there are now plans for regeneration focused on an innovation centre in Bletchley Park. Although mainly residential, West Bletchley has some commercial development including offices for NTL and Ericson and an Abbey National Computer Centre.

There are two shopping areas with community facilities along Whaddon Way and various individual shops serving the different areas. There are two G.P. surgeries one dentist, one Comprehensive school, a number of Primary & Middle or Combined schools and one private Preparatory school There are Cof E, Methodist and Catholic Churches. The police and fire stations are close to the Railway Station.

It also has some of the lowest property prices within one hour commuting distance of central London. The current proportion of owner occupation of 71% is average for Milton Keynes. Developed throughout the post-war period and earlier, West Bletchley is more typical of the traditional suburb in having a larger proportion of semi-detatched houses and fewer terraced or detached houses than the borough as a whole. In some areas, houses of each type tend to be larger than those in the new town. Old Bletchley in particular has varied housing but unusually for Milton Keynes (and most modern urban areas), large gardens in proportion to the houses, being over one acre in some cases. Old Bletchley is in the area closest to the railway station, Bletchley Park and Milton Keynes College's Bletchley Campus.

Website of St Mary's and St Johns Church: www.stmarysbletchley.org/.

Further information at www.bfstc.co.uk/.


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