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Grid reference: SP816410
Location: 52°3’46"N, 0°48’37"W
Population: 13,546  (2001)
Post town: Milton Keynes
Postcode: MK12
Dialling code: 01908
Local Government
Council: Milton Keynes
Milton Keynes North

Wolverton is a constituent town of Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire; one of the two major towns (with Bletchley) around which the New Town was grown. It is at its northern edge of today's Milton Keynes, between Stony Stratford and Newport Pagnell.

It is an old town, recorded in the Domesday Book. Its early modern decline was reversed when Wolverton reinvented itself as a railway town in the industrial revolution. The town is one of the places in Buckinghamshire that was drawn within the plan for the New Town of Milton Keynes in the 1960s and despite its older origins, Wolverton has been transformed by the new developments. Today, Wolverton is a thriving focus for the northern edge of Milton Keynes.


Old Wolverton

The town name is an Old English language word, and means 'Wulfhere's estate'. It was recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Wluerintone. The original Wolverton was a mediæval settlement just north and west of today's town. This site is now known as Old Wolverton, although the mediæval village is all but gone. The Ridge and Furrow pattern of agriculture can still be seen in the nearby fields and the Saxon church of the Holy Trinity (rebuilt in 1819) still sits next to the Norman Motte and Bailey site. Only the earth mound remains of the Norman castle, though the Saxon tower still stands as central to the rebuilt church, clad in the early 19th century 'Anglo-Norman' style. Next door to the church is a house built in 1729 which later became the vicarage; the front door has stonework from the nearby, demolished manor house of the 16th century including the de Longueville family coat of arms, and pieces from the earlier church building. A talbot, another symbol of the family, once graced the side-entrance which now marks the boundary between the ground floor of the house and its downstairs toilet.

Of the historic village itself, only field patterns marking a deserted village remain. The desertion of Old Wolverton was due to inclosure of the large strip cultivation fields into small "closes" by the local landlords, the Longville family, who turned arable land over to pasture. By 1654, the family had completely enclosed the parish. With the end of the feudal system, the peasants had lost their land and tillage/grazing rights and were forced to find other work or starve. Thus Old Wolverton was reduced from about thirty peasant families in the mid 16th century to almost none, within the space of a century.[1]

The newer area, built less than a mile to the east for the railways in the 19th century, assumed the Wolverton name.

Today, the site of the mediæval village is bisected by the Grand Union Canal: the name "Old Wolverton" has been given to the area east of the canal and that to the west (which includes the watermill site) is called Wolverton Mill.

Canal village

The Grand Union Canal passes around the northern and eastern edge of the modern town. The canal originally crossed the River Great Ouse by descending 33 feet to the river by nine locks, crossing the river on the level and ascended by eight locks on the other side. This was time consuming for navigators and subject to disruption in time of flood. It seems inevitable, therefore, that there were some facilities to serve the barges at least until the Iron Trunk Aqueduct was built across the river to Cosgrove, but little remains except a wharf and a pub.

Railway town

In 1836 Wolverton was chosen as the site of the locomotive repair shop at the midpoint of the London and Birmingham Railway then under construction.

In 1846 the L & B became part of the London and North Western Railway, who subsequently decided that locomotives would be built and repaired at Crewe. The last locomotives at Wolverton were built in 1863 and repaired until 1877 after which it concentrated on carriages including railway owned road vehicles. It has also been and still is the home of the Royal Train fleet.

During the Second World War, the Works were used to build parts for Lee-Enfield rifles, bomber plane timber frames, Hawker Typhoon wings, Horsa Gliders, and ambulances. Like many older industrial sites, camouflage paint from the period can still be seen on the factory buildings. A pillbox remains opposite the Works Wall.

The railway built some 200 houses for its workers by 1844 along with schools, a church and a market.

Modern Wolverton

During the 1980s, the decline of the railway works led to the diminution of Wolverton's tight-knit railway community; and at the same time to the coming of many newcomers form across the country and the Commonwealth; Indians became particularly prominent and transformed the town's shopping facilities, rejuvenating the corner shops (as was common in small towns). Today the Church of England Church of Saint George faces a mosque that is located in a former post office sorting office and what was the 'Empire' cinema.

Wolverton remained a relatively cheap place to live in Milton Keynes through to the second half of the first decade of the 21st century, when it began to attract immigrants from Poland.

Big Society

The town has a loyal group of residents who document the heritage of the town through the Living Archive Project and through influencing planning policy to preserve it cultural and historic features. There are many opportunities to be involved in the community through such iniatives as the community orchard (repurposed allotments), the urb farm, the annual scarecrow festival and the lantern parade at Christmas(running since 1990). There is a brass band and light orchestra and a programme of varied community arts events at Music and Drama Community Arts Programme (Madcap). There are two working men's clubs still functioning, reminders of earlier days of widespread manufacturing employment in the Works.

Secret Garden

In 1999 a group of Wolverton residents clubbed together to persuade National Rail to sell them a piece of derelict land for £1. This piece of land which sits alongside the Grand Union Canal has been turned into a small parkland known locally as the 'Secret Garden', something the residents felt was missing from the largely industrial area. It is maintained by volunteers and hosts outdoor music events in the summer months.

Sport in Wolverton

The town's sports clubs include

  • Cricket: Wolverton Town Cricket Club
  • Football: Wolverton Town FC
  • Tennis: Wolverton Tennis Club
  • Bowls: Wolverton Town Bowls Club and Wolverton Bowls Club

Outside links


  1. Buckinghamshire Historical Service plaque on site, of which this section is a summary.