The Underpasses project

On the Verge and its partners MK Council, The Parks Trust MK and the MK City Discovery Centre delivered the yearlong ‘Underpasses’ project with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), the MK Community Foundation and MK Council.

The ‘Underpasses’ project aimed to connect residents with the unique heritage of the ‘New Town’ of Milton Keynes, tying into MK50 anniversary celebrations in 2017.

Research A key aim for On the Verge was for all project outputs to be based on accurate historical information about MK’s pre New Town history and New Town history, and wanted to bring together all sources of information into one place to achieve this OTV commissioned Researcher Caroline Hamilton to produce a research document into the history of the New Town.

Senior Archaeologist Nick Crank at MK Council and Brett Thorn Keeper of Archaeology at Bucks County Museum very kindly undertook research for OTV into the archaeological history of the area of the 4 estates on the project and the Central Milton Keynes area, particularly Secklow Mound, which was an Anglo Saxon meeting point, which connected people hundreds of years ago.

They identified what was in these areas before the building of Milton Keynes and what objects were found. This has helped highlight the way Milton Keynes is unique in that it was designed and built over layers of history

Their research has informed several project outputs including the children’s trail leaflet and both publications, but particularly ‘My MK’ which features a young archaeologist undertaking archaeological digs in a race against the building of the New Town.

Project Programme
On the Verge successfully connected residents of the 4 estates to their MK heritage, building a positive identity through focusing on what makes MK unique with:

A programme of community engagement events and school sessions including: Boyd & Evans Talk, 
iRemember reminiscence community events 
School sessions, 
Young artists talk
, NCS event 
Heritage guided walk with the OTV’s Heritage Trail leaflet, 
App Focus Group, 
MK50 event, 

  1. Commissioning of 2 heritage inspired artworks, and interpretation panels to revive improve and enhance 3 underpasses and Secklow Mound.
  2. Production of two publications for children on MK’s New Town history; ‘Travelling in Time’ and ‘My MK’

  3. An exhibition of 11 panels titled ‘Underpasses’ informed by the research document on the New Town 

  4. Heritage Trail leaflet & Children’s Activity Trail leaflet

  5. OTV’s Heritage Trail App

  6. Set of 4 postcards

OTV have worked with project partners MKCDC delivering the school element of the programme, Highways for repair of selected underpasses and The Parks Trust MK to deliver the landscaping around the two underpasses.

On the Verge
has been working on the project in Fishermead and Oldbrook until the end of October with artist Janetka Platun ( )

The artist collective RARA ( ) has been working at Conniburrow & Downs Barn underpass and at the Fishermead & Oldbrook underpass, and has produced the artwork for both underpasses.

Feedback/ Achievements 
The ‘Underpasses’ project has had some great feedback from the communities involved, the public and project partners for various aspects of the project and particularly the project outputs.

Shane Downer, Heritage Development Officer at Milton Keynes Council states: “MK Council is pleased to support On The Verge’s innovative project helping communities to explore the physical and social heritage related to the places in which they live, in a creative and artistic way.  Working in and bringing together communities such as Downs Barn, Conniburrow, Fishermead and Oldbrook helps people understand the significance of MK’ s New Town origins and settlements.” 

Stuart McLeod, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund, South East, said: “Our Heritage is a wonderful opportunity for communities to delve into their local heritage and we are delighted to be able to offer this grant so that On the Verge’s ‘Underpasses – Connecting people, Connecting places’ project can embark on a real journey of discovery. Heritage means such different things to different people, and HLF’s funding offers a wealth of opportunities for groups to explore and celebrate what’s important to them in their area.”