The history of milk delivery in the UK

Foods & DrinksFood

  • Author Nigel Tug
  • Published August 11, 2010
  • Word count 401

Milk delivery from 1860 to 1900

The British milkman first appears in the 1860s when the new railway network begins to bring fresh milk, direct from the farm. Loaded into churns, the milk is delivered from door to door by the milkman on a three-wheeled milk pram.

Milk delivery from 1900 to 1939

Without widespread home refrigeration, milkmen are still delivering three times a day -for breakfast, lunch-time pudding and afternoon tea. Milk deliveries only drop to two a day in the First World War.

Milk delivery from 1940 to 2000

During World War II milk deliveries are reduced and, with able bodied men being in short supply, the first milk-women take to Britain's streets. Horse-drawn milk carts are still a common sight until the 1950s, but are gradually overtaken by electric vehicles such as the three-wheeled Bush Pony.

Milk delivery from 2000 to Today

The daily milk delivery goes digital with the launch of Milk and More. You can now go online up to 9.00pm the night before and order over 250 essential daily products, from bread, eggs and milk to washing-up liquid, Organic Food and pet food. Next morning, your local milkman will be round with your grocery delivery in time-honoured fashion.

Milk facts

    1. Most Londoners get their milk from the country
    1. The price of milk varies, Babies' milk costs 5 pence a quart, while regular stuff just 4 pence
    1. Bottled milk arrived
    1. Pasteurisation is introduced
  • 1990s. Some families have their own milk churns sealed in the dairy before delivery

  • 1920s. The cardboard lids on glass milk bottles become a hit with children

  • 1930s. The first electric vehicles appear

    1. Jazzman Fats Waller records My Very Good Friend the Milkman
    1. Most of London's milk is now delivered by electric or petrol vehicles
    1. Benny Hill's song Emie, the Fastest Milkman in the West is number one in the charts
    1. Bottle Boys, the story of two milkmen, hits the British TV screens
  • 1990s. Infrared scanning for milk bottles is introduced to make sure that they're always spotlessly clean

    1. Orlando Boom is the milkman who becomes a prize fighter in The Calcium Kid
    1. Because they can be re-used up to ten times, the traditional milk bottle's still in high demand
    1. Derek Arch, Britain's oldest milkman is still delivering at the age of 81
    1. Over 2,500 Dairy Crest milkmen deliver 500 million bottles of milk every year to over 1.3 million homes

milk&more is a flexible, online delivery service offering food delivery with a choice of over 250 daily essentials to thousands of doorsteps in England and Wales.

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