Spencer Street

Yellow Brick Terrace Spencer Street today Spencer St. Annual Birthday Party

The ever growing Railway town of Wolverton needed more housing for workers of the Railway Works. Expansion within Wolverton was not possible as there was difficulty in purchasing extra land for building. Therefore the LNWR had to look further afield.

Earl Spencer of Althorp owned most of the parish and the adjacent areas. He sold some of this land to the LNWR and hence the village of Stantonbury was born as an overspill village of Wolverton. Stantonbury Village is now known as New Bradwell.

There were many rows of railway houses built in New Bradwell. These housed the railway employees working in Wolverton and the surrounding areas. As rail travel  declined so the need for the workers has too and as a consequence of this the workers have  left, the houses fell into disrepair and subsequently vandalised. A decision was made in the early 1970’s to demolish the distinctive streets of railway houses in New Bradwell and build new, modern homes.

Eventually there were only two rows of terraced houses remaining in Spencer Street. Fortunately they were saved in time by a preservation order and by this time Milton Keynes Development Corporation owned the houses and it fell to them to decide what should be done with them.

At this time (1976) there was a group of people, who wished to live more communally. They got together to look for alternative accommodation, that is,  the type of housing that was available from MKDC. The group liaised with the MKDC and it was decided that Spencer Street be renovated and offered to the group as long as enough like minded people could be found to occupy them. In May 1978 the first tenants of Spencer Street (Rainbow Housing Co-operative) moved in.

There are 24 houses in Rainbow Co-operative consisting of 20 two- bedroomed houses and 4 four-bedroomed houses. One of the houses is used as a community house which accommodates an office, workshop, laundry facilities and a meeting area.

Rainbow members benefit from living communally because as well as the community house facilities there is a shared large grassed area on the south side of the street with a greenhouse, fruit trees, fire area, children’s play area and lots of room for the annual summer party. There is also the added benefit of being able to actively choose who your neighbours will be when a house becomes vacant.

To be able to have all these benefits the members have to be prepared to put some time and effort into the day to day running. There is a monthly general meeting where the business of the meeting is discussed and sub group meetings i.e. land group, maintenance group and finance group to name a few. These groups are important as most of the lands, maintenance and finance have to be carried out by street members.

Rainbow Housing Co-operative holds an annual party to celebrate its birthday. The street is decorated and there is usually some music, lots of food and drink. All past members of the street are invited and present members can invite friends. It is seen as a successful co-operative. Although there are other housing Co-operatives in Milton Keynes none have run for so long.

On 27th March 1992, Rainbow Housing Co-operative purchased all the properties numbered 1 to 24 inclusive from Milton Keynes Development Corporation, including the adjoining land.

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