Orange and Blue was written for the live BBC radio programme Fabric of Milton Keynes in 1994. Paul Clark said of his composition: ‘The song had to represent a tapestry made by Wolverton 6th formers of their impressions of the Wolverton Works in decline. They had used orange and blue patches showing a sense of things having ended.’
The Works had provided a living for thousands of people who passed through its gates over the course of 150 years. Between 1848 and 1863 Wolverton had built 166 locomotives, including McConnell’s famous Bloomer engine. It subsequently became the country’s largest carriage works – including housing the Royal Train. By 1962 however, its function was carriage repair, not production. The workforce was much reduced over a number of years and the Works were eventually sold to private concerns.
I first visited the Works on Open Days with my father during the late ‘40s and was then impressed by the huge high buildings which housed an amazing array of strange machines crammed into them. I remember the strange smells differing from shop to shop…
The Works I visited today bears no relation to my earlier memories – what is left are half-empty shops with space to spare.
(Linda Frost, LAMK 2007)
Places are closed and work is transferred to try and cut costs and it’s still happening. There’s cuts going on at Wolverton Works now. I’ve got a son there who’s on the maintenance side. His job is in the balance and he’s actually applied for redundancy... When I was a boy we’d go from Shenley to Wolverton for shopping and the amount of people that spewed out of Wolverton Works at five o’clock at night! They came out in their thousands. Now it’s just a skeleton sort of place.
(Albert Daniels, LAMK 2005)
Living Archive Band members have commented: ‘Paul’s unique ability has transformed information into ballads, rich in their imagery, truthful in their accounts and beautiful in their construction – both lyrical and musical. The songs live in their own right and have become the folk songs of Milton Keynes, each detailing an essential element of the town’s history…’
Images and interview extracts from LAMK archive
The song is featured on the Living Archive Band’s All That’s Changed Vol 2 (LAMK)