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

Earl Spencer of Althorp owned most of the parish and adjacent areas. He sold some of this land to the railway 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 workers who worked in Wolverton and surrounding areas. As rail travel has declined so the need for the workers has also. But as a consequence of this, as the workers left the houses fell into disrepair, and were vandalised. The decision was then made to demolish the distinctive streets of Railway houses in New Bradwell and build new, modern housing.
Click on the play button on your left to hear Graham Crisp talking about some possible reasons that people left the railway houses so readily.
Finally there were only two rows of houses remaining to be demolished - Spencer Street. Fortunately they were saved in time by a preservation order and as the Milton Keynes Development Corporation now owned the houses it fell to them to decide what would be done with them.
At the same time (1976) there was a group of people, who wanted to live more communally, who got together to look for alternative accommodation - alternative that is to the type of housing that was available from MKDC. The group liaised with the MKDC and Spencer Street was renovated and offered to the group as long as enough like minded people could be found.
In May 1978 the first tenants of Rainbow Housing Co operative moved in. There are 24 houses in Rainbow which consist of twenty 2 bedroomed houses and four 4 bedroomed houses. One of the houses is used as a community house which accommodates facilities such as an office, workshop, laundry equipment and a meeting area.
Rainbow members benefit from living communally because as well as the community house facilities there is the shared large grassed area on the south side of the street with a polytunnel, greenhouse, fruit trees, chickens and ducks, 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 of the street. There is a monthly general meeting where the business of the street is sorted out, also there are sub group meetings for the care of the chickens and ducks, the land group, maintenance group and finance group to name a few. These groups are important as all of the land, maintenance and finance has to be done by street members.
Rainbow Housing Co-operative holds an annual party to celebrate its Birthday every year. The street is decorated and there is usually some music and lots of food and drink. All past members of the street are invited and present members can invite friends. Last year was the 21st Birthday party. Rainbow is seen as a successful Co-operative, there are other housing Co ops in Milton Keynes but none that have run for so long. For more information on Housing Co-operatives see The Confederation of Co-operative housing web page.
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