Monday, May 12, 2008

My Town Monday - Milkmen!

They get up at the most unthinkable hour, go out in all weathers, trundle along at the speed of a tricycle - and they still manage to smile.
The UK's 10,000 milkmen and women are little short of a national institution, a cultural practice that has been unique to this country for many years. They were the first green road users with their quiet electric driven milk 'floats'
But with the growth of supermarkets, and their price wars, the sound of milkmen clunking and trundling their way round our streets in the small hours has become increasingly rare.

A pint of milk in superstores averages 25p-30p, but delivered to your doorstep it's at least 10p dearer. Only just over a quarter of all milk bought is from the milkman; the bulk is from the shop.
The number of milkmen and women have been falling by 8% a year. And now, a threatened consolidation of dairy produce giants could put a further squeeze on the nation's milkmen.
Predictions of the end of the milkman have been made for some time.
But now the milkmen are beginning to fight back, thanks to a combination of new technology and sheer inventiveness. Around the country, milkmen - either employed by dairies or running their own franchises - have realised the way forward is to diversify their range and provide better services.
Many now offer deliveries not just of milk, but also eggs, fruit juice, bread and potatoes. In some cases, the range even extends to nappies, potatoes, Cornflakes, flowers and boxes of chocolates.
Milkmen have often raised the alarm for housebound people in trouble, they notice when the curtains are drawn and there is milk from the previous day on the door step.

Locally we still have at least two dairies that deliver and I am proud to say that I support one of these, Braziers dairies. These are truly local, supplying locally produced milk. I personally think its worth the extra money to get up to fresh milk every day. My Milkman knows everyone and everything!! A very useful attribute!

Children at school still get milk supplied at school until they go into the juniors (7 years old) When I was at school it arrived in mini bottles with a waxed straw and was always 'warm' Now our school keeps the cartons in the fridge, ice cold milk is a lot nicer!

I believe that the milkman is one of those strange 'English' customs not in too much evidence in other parts of the world!


pattinase (abbott) said...

Oh, for the taste of milk in a bottle. When we lived in England, I remember picking it up with little holes from birds in the tops.

LuLu said...

Ditto to your comments. Our milkman supplies this fabulous selection of broken biscuits - in a BIG box and they're to die for - yum! Also has been great knowing that there will be a pint of milk on your door step when you return from holiday - saves having to remember on the journey home.

Debbie Yates said...

When I was really, really little - yes eons Grandpa had amilman and I can still remember the sound of fresh milk bottles being pu tin the outside box in the morning - thank you for reminding me of a simpler time!

Alexandra said...

This was one of my favorite things about living in Scotland was the fresh milk delivered by the milkman - oh, you have brought back memories!


Debbielou said...

Warm milk ! I was a milk monitor at school and remember that very well. I also remember the birds picking holes in the tops and the inch of frozen milk on a cold winters morning!! Whatever happened to "Watch out - there's a Humphrey about?"
My cousin "stole" a milkfloat at the age of 3 - he managed to get out of the front gate and drove it down the road - luckily this was in the age when only a couple of people had a car in the village and there was no one about.

One of my other cousins ( I have loads!) then became a milkman for a while.My Uncle also worked at the dairy.

I must admit to not having a milkman at the moment as the one on our road wakes us up at 3am in what I can only describe as the milk diesel tanker - no nice electric float - just a monster truck - he also reversed over the neighbours cat which wasn't a good move !! However we do have one at work & order about 100 pints a week so that makes up for it a bit.

Travis Erwin said...

Cool. I'm too young to recall the days of home milk delivery in my area so I', glad to know the service is still alive elsewhere.

debra said...

fresh milk would be wonderful! I have been to a dairy that isn't too terrible far--they have milk with the cream on the top, incredible butter, and chocolate milk that will make your heart sing!

Maureen said...

wow - what a trip down memory lane! We used to get our milk delivered - its been so long...and MAN that milk was good!!

Not to mention, there was always someplace to leave things for each other - "oh, put it in the milk box!" - now - if anyone puts something in your mail box - the mailman takes it regardless if he was supposed to or not!! LOL


Terrie Farley Moran said...

Oh, I remember getting milk delivered to the house when I was a kid. And my aunt got the unpasteurized milk, with the cream floating on the top of the bottle. Ummmmm.


Jen said...

Oh yes, for me the sound of the electric milk float and the clunk of the bottles is quintessentially English. Especially having lived abroad most of my life! I still get the milk delivered, but he's getting later and later, and when the weather turns warmer we'll maybe have to stop using him because I don't want the milk to be on the doorstep all day in the heat!

Barbara Martin said...

The milk delivery I recall from the mid -50s was brought in a covered van pulled by a team of draft horses who knew where all the stops were. They would wait, then move on down the street by themselves to the next stop and wait for the milkman to return with his empty carrier.

Being horse crazy I would go through the budgie's seed mixture and collect the whole oats, saving them in a paper bag until I had half a cup. When the next milk delivery day came I would be out on the street waiting to slip each of the horses what barely amounted to a taste. It didn't take long for them to whicker whenever they saw me. I think the milkman realized what was going on, because a couple of weeks after I had begun treating the horses they appeared with what looked like muzzles of very fine mesh. I was disappointed, and I'm certain the horses were too. Pats didn't seem to be enough.

Yes, I do recall cream being on the top of the bottles with little cardboard lids followed by foil over the tops of the bottles. 2% then was not like it is now.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane.