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The roads to fame: Origin of Bletchley road names.
An example of the 'Hornsby-Akroyd' engine may now be seen at the Milton Keynes Museum
and the display makes very clear who should really have credit for the invention of the 'Diesel' engine!

Many people or families who have held prominence in the local past are today immortalised in the names of various streets in the town. Examples include Duncombe Street, Durrans Court, Rowlands Close, Bristow Close and - recalling the more recent industrial developments - Bilton Road, which is named after the well-known property developer Percy Bilton.
(In fact there is still a local connection, for his grandson has recently spent £10 million renovating Tyringham Hall.) In this article, local historian John Taylor looks at the figures commemorated in Whiteley Crescent, Stuart Close and Sherwood Drive.


IN July 1943 Bletchley received the tragic news that, whilst returning home on leave from the Middle East, Brigadier General John Whiteley, of The Grange, Bletchley, had been killed in a plane crash.

A native of South Africa, John was born at Mafeking, where his father, Frank Whiteley CMG JP, had been the mayor during the famous siege. Following an education at Shrewsbury School and the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, he served in the Royal Artillery from 1916, and then in the Life Guards from 1926.

On retiring as a captain, two years later he became much involved in the civic and social life of North Buckinghamshire, and, as chairman of the association, he was to play a prominent role in the formation of the Conservative Club, of which he became the president. He was also responsible for many local educational improvements, and throughout much of the time that he lived in the town would represent Bletchley on the county council in Aylesbury.

During the Depression, for the benefit of those who were locally unemployed, he instigated several improvement schemes in the town, including those which enhanced St Martin's churchyard and St Mary's Church. And despite having retired from the army, he nevertheless maintained links with the TA becoming not only CO of the 393rd Battery, but also being responsible for the construction of the Yeomanry Hall.

As for other activities, with a clear majority he was elected MP for the local division in 1937, but at the outbreak of war he resumed military service and would accompany his men of the Bletchley Territorials to Dunkirk, and eventually to India.

In December 1942 he was promoted to Brigadier but, after 15 months of continuous military service, he planned to spend a month carrying out political work in his constituency. It was during the journey home that he was killed when the Liberator aircraft, which had been converted to an RAF transport, crashed one Sunday evening, just after take off from Gibraltar.

The crash also claimed the lives of General Sikorski, the Polish premier and Colonel Victor Cazalet MP and, not surprisingly, the cause soon became the subject of various conspiracy theories. In fact, as late as December 1968 a two-night televised debate chaired by David Frost would take place regarding the subject.

Brigadier Whiteley was buried in Gibraltar with full military honours, in the cemetery close under the north face of the Rock. And on the day that his memorial service took place at St Mary's, Westminster, a service was also held at St Mary's Church in Bletchley, where flags were flown at half-mast at the Council Offices, the schools and the Conservative Club.

His two sons, the eldest of whom was 15, and his wife, Amy, a daughter of Mr H Tetley of Alderbrook, Surrey, continued to live at The Grange throughout the war, but eventually moved to Mixbury Hall, Brackley.

In 1947 The Grange was purchased by Mr Norman Green and, with space available for other sports, the grounds accommodated an excellent hard tennis court, a squash court, rose garden, and also a swimming pool which, if they brought their bathing costumes, those attending the Grand Garden Fete (held to raise monies for the Victory Clock Fund) could use on Saturday June 7. In fact, Mr Green - who was noted for his business acumen - hoped to open a lido at the premises before the end of the year!

At the end of February 1967, The Grange, with the stables, and the adjoining land in Buckingham Road, was auctioned as one lot in London for £31,000. With outline planning permission having been granted for the development of 34 houses, purchase was made by the Greaves Organisation of Birmingham. In fact, this would be the first considerable auction of land in Bletchley since the announcement of the proposed new town.


On October 1 1932, Mr Reginald Leuty Sherwood became the Clerk of Bletchley Urban District Council. He thereby succeeded Mr F Capper who, succeeding Mr W Charter Wilson, had been appointed to the position in 1928, having formerly been the clerk, accountant and rating officer to Andenshaw, Lancashire.

As for Mr Sherwood, from 1910 until 1919 he had been master's chief clerk at Firvale Poor Law Institution, in Sheffield, and from 1919 until 1923 he served on the Ministry of Health district audit staff, firstly in Durham and then in Doncaster.

He next became clerk of Brigg Urban District Council in Lincolnshire and, having applied for a similar position at Bletchley, he was asked at the interview what he thought of the town. "Not much," he replied - but nevertheless secured the job!

He and his wife would make their home at 'Netherleigh', Buckingham Road, until moving to Eastbourne on Mr Sherwood's retirement in 1960.


At the corner of Victoria Road and Denmark Street, on the site now occupied by the Londis supermarket, once stood the Bletchley Iron and Tinplate Works, founded by Charles Stuart.

In the late 1880s Charles was joined in the business by his son Herbert Akroyd Stuart who, having witnessed the effects of oil spilt onto hot metal, during this period had the idea of harnessing such energy in a 'heavy oil engine'.

On October 4 1890 a patent was taken out for 'Rotary motors, to be worked by the heat obtained by the combustion of oil', and consequently a number of engines were built. In fact, by the end of the century several more patents for 'Motors and Rotary Engines' had been granted, but it was the German engineer Dr Diesel who eventually claimed the credit for the invention.

Perhaps disillusioned, Herbert, who had sold his patent to the Hornsby Company, moved in around 1910 to Perth, Western Australia, where he died in 1927.

However, in 1964 a wall plaque to his memory and achievement was placed at the corner of Denmark Street, by the Bletchley Co-op and the Bletchley Archaeological and Historical Society.