Explore Your Archive: Plans for a futuristic 'City Club' from Milton Keynes

By Rosemary Collins, 20 November 2017 - 10:57am

Rosemary Collins talks to Catherine McIntyre of Milton Keynes City Discovery Centre about plans from the 1970s for a City Club... including a 'mad scientist area'

The City Club drawing. Credit:Andrew Mahaddie under an Open Government Licence

Explore Your Archive is a campaign coordinated jointly by The National Archives (UK) and the Archives and Records Association (UK & Ireland), with and on behalf of the archives and records sector, across the UK and Ireland which aims to raise awareness of archives, their value to society and the impact they have, every day, on individual lives.

The campaign runs from Saturday 18 November to Sunday 26 November with archives all around the country putting on exhibitions, having open days, hosting seminars and talks and allowing communities to "explore" the amazing things they hold.

As part of the campaign, Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine has teamed up with The National Archives to bring you a week of interviews with some of the archivists taking part around the country to discover just a few of the fascinating historic gems they hold.

Today, Catherine McIntyre, archivist at Milton Keynes City Discovery Centre, tells us about a bold plan for the town's futuristic 'City Club' from the 1970s.

What gem have you chosen?

This is a concept drawing of the proposed ‘City Club’ for Central Milton Keynes, drawn by Andrew Mahaddie, an architect at the Milton Keynes Development Corporation. It shows an ambitious design for a mixed-use leisure facility covering around 800 square metres.

The City Club idea went through three different designs during the 1970s and this drawing was the second incarnation. It contains a dazzling variety of activities, from the traditional swimming pool, trampolines, restaurants, shops, nightclubs and theatre, to the more ‘out there’ ideas of a hydroponic garden, ‘mad scientist area’, ‘mystic gazing’, mind chamber, static generators and robots. Unfortunately, the concept never got off the ground due to lack of financing, but its descendants can be seen in some of the leisure facilities present in the centre today.

Why did you choose it?

Milton Keynes was designated in 1967 and is this year celebrating its 50th anniversary. Central Milton Keynes was to be a focus for the town’s community, containing retail, leisure and cultural offerings. The City Club proposal epitomises the ambition of the Milton Keynes Development Corporation, who were tasked with building the town. It encapsulates their desire to build the most liveable city possible and provide forward-thinking, modern facilities for residents with lots of opportunities. City Club was to be fun, cultural, educational and enlightening, and the uncovering of this drawing in the last couple of years has inspired individuals and organisations throughout the town to aspire to the same principles. It reminds our community of the ambition of those who built Milton Keynes and how we can all be striving for the best.

Nurses with a guy
A detail from the drawing. Credit:Andrew Mahaddie under an Open Government Licence

Tell us more about your archive...

The archive is part of Milton Keynes City Discovery Centre, an educational charity that has its roots in informing the local community about urban geography, new town planning, the natural environment and local heritage. A predecessor organisation, the Urban Studies Centre, collected material relating to the development of the new town of Milton Keynes and we focus on this topic to this day.

The collections contain architectural papers and drawings, plus ephemera such as posters and postcards. We are based on the site of a medieval priory and run education days for schoolchildren covering Romans, the medieval period and Anglo-Saxons, plus urban planning tours of Milton Keynes for higher and adult education, especially international visitors.

For this year's Explore Your Archives campaign, the City Discovery Centre will display some of its best posters in the free ‘Posters from the Past’ exhibition. Covering subjects such as special events, open days, linear parks, exhibitions, fireworks displays and more, these posters tell the story of the past 50 years in Milton Keynes. Come along and see which ones you remember! The Living Archive's film 'Milton Keynes Through a Lens', featuring archive footage from the 1940s to the present day, will also be showing throughout both days.

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