A post war vision for Wolverton

In 1944 the Wolverton UDC hired Mr G A Jellicoe, a landscape architect, to prepare a plan for Wolverton’s future after the War. He was paid £293 and allowed a further £687 for staff and other expenses. He reported in 1945.

He identified two aspects of Wolverton which to him were problematical, the fact that it was a company town and that there was insufficient variety in housing. He presented his proposals in two parts.

The first part advocated the addition of 1,300 new houses and that the surrounding landscape should be developed with walkways and cycleways. He also planned a lido, with swimming pool, for the Pancake hills area.

The second part of his vision was more startling. He proposed that the entire redbrick town should be bulldozed and replaced by high rise dwellings interspersed with a suitably landscaped environment.

When his proposals were published in the Wolverton Express there was an outcry. Whatever shortcomings Wolverton might have had as a redbrick town, it was still home to the people who lived there, and they understandably felt an affection for the place that was not understood by outsiders. Jellicoe’s project was largely stillborn, although the development of Furze Way owes something to his vision of a landscaped environment.

The urge to high rise development was much influenced by the French architect, Le Corbusier, and it was an influence that held for many years. When the Little Streets were cleared in the 1960s the Council’s first response was to replace these terraces with high rise buildings, and the first plans for Milton Keynes, the Pooley Plan, was entirely based on the concept of high rise living.