“IT’S our village in the sky.”

These are the words of Southampton residents, who have spent their lives in a high-rise tower which celebrates its 50th birthday today.

At 240ft tall Millbrook Tower was the highest building in Southampton to be built half a century ago, offering 144 flats to residents and reducing the council house waiting list in 1965.

Designers took inspiration from Redbridge and Shirley towers for the Wimpson estate to create a compact, modern and warm collection of flats, from which residents have watched the cityscape change from their balconies.

The flats have been enjoyed by hundreds of families over the years and now they are coming together to celebrate their homes’ special milestone.

Block rep Mo Simmons has been at the heart of organising a special event to celebrate the anniversary of the tower. The 74-year-old moved into her flat on the 20th floor almost 38 years ago, raised her two children there and looked after the community by organising various committees and talking on behalf of residents when approaching the city council.

She said: “I’ve always called it our village in the sky because it really is a collection of hundreds of people, who all come across each other at some point and get to know their neighbours – it’s a real community here.

“I can’t believe that it’s been standing for 50 years. I don’t think anyone really expected it to last this long because they assumed it was built as a temporary measure to help all the families who were struggling.”

She added: “This has been a great place for so many people to live and grow up. It’s really safe, you’ve got so many people that will look out for you and it’s amazing for single mums who need that sense of security.

Millbrook Tower is a beautiful place which has supported all its residents in some way.”

Mum-of-two Nicole Willis, 22, has lived in the tower for four years with her children.

She said: “I have been able to get to know all my neighbours, made friends and it’s great for my children to make new friends, too.

“I think it does feel like a community and the flats are all amazingly spacious. This is definitely the best one of the towers in Southampton and I’m really happy living here with my family.”

Her friend and fellow mum-oftwo, Katie Charlton, 22, added: “You get to meet all sorts of new people, it’s a really friendly place and you’ve got a huge park outside, which is great for the kids and all the views from the top are amazing – you can see all over the city.”

With a celebration event being held on Saturday, residents are inviting all former Millbrook Tower residents to come and join them to commemorate the milestone with cake, music and a visit from the Sheriff of Southampton, councillor Linda Norris.

Mo said: “It’s just a way to say thank you to the tower for looking after us and a chance to maybe meet a few new or old faces. This tower has served us all well and I’m sure it will do for many more years.”