Based on childhood recollections
of working class life in north London in Edwardian times.
Milk delivery from Hobbs Dairy in Lower Edmonton. The
horse and cart, the milk churns and the jugs are as my mother describes
for her local dairy in Upper Edmonton. Note the milkman's uniform which
would have varied from one dairy to another, although the peaked cap would
have been a standard. Possibly this milkman was helped by his son (the boy
in the photo) just as my mother describes her family milkman as being helped
by his schoolgirl daughter. Photograph, courtesy of Miranda Pender (see
My earliest recollection of the milkman must have been around 1908 and was
of a man coming to our door bringing a large can of milk with two measures hung
from the side: a pint one and a half-pint one. He then emptied one or more of
these measures into our own jugs, which were metal with spring lids. He called
at the house twice a day, first early in the morning and again later on. In
hot weather he came more often.
INFORMATION FROM THE 1911 CENSUS
The first milkman was probably either William Parker
(senior or junior) or Alfred Parker. According to the 1911 census, William
senior, 41, was a master dairyman, born in Warley, Essex, William his son,
22, was born in Romford, Essex and Alfred, 15, was born in Edmonton. They
lived at 4 Bedford Row Upper Edmonton with William (senior)'s wife Mary,
40, who assisted in the business and was born in London, daughter Lily,
19 and sons Henry 17, Ernest 13, Stanley, 11, and Percy 9, all born in Edmonton.
I found no-one by the name of Hussey in Hazelbury Road
in 1911. The milkman who my mother writes of must have moved in shortly
afterwards and probably belonged to the family of Henry Hussey 58, milk
carrier, born Bridport, Dorset who lived at 176 Langham Road in South Tottenham
with his wife Ellen, 57, also born in Bridport with two single sons, William
Hussey, 23, born Hornsey, also a milk carrier, and Henry Hussey 25 a printer.
Grandson Fred Johnstone, 5, lived with them.
It would be interesting to know how these businesses
related to those of the dairy shops in
There was a local milkman by the name of Parker and another in Hazelbury
Road on our Huxley Estate in Edmonton
by the name of Hussey. He had a horse and cart, and his cart always reminded
me of drawings of Queen Boadicea's war chariot, high in front where the reins
of the horse rested, then graduating to lower towards the back. The back was
about a foot from the ground so that the milkman could easily step off to serve
customers. He carried milk churns with him, and his schoolgirl daughter helped
him with the rounds.
Although everything looked clean to the naked eye, hygiene was unheard of,
and no doubt there were plenty of germs on that large can that went from door
to door. Perhaps this was one reason why the milk would go off so quickly, although
lack of fridges would have contributed.
If you can add anything, I would appreciate hearing
from you. Pat Cryer
There were inspectors, who would come round to test the milk. This was very
necessary before the advent of sterilised and sealed bottles. It was well known
that some milkmen would add water to their milk. I remember hearing my father
say while reading the local paper, "Old so-and-so has been prosecuted again
for adding water to the milk". I even heard it said that some milkmen topped
up their milk from the local pond.
Milk churns waiting by the road-side for collection.
My mother asked me to take this photograph sometime in the 1970s while we
were on holiday in a rural area. She said it reminded her of her childhood
and was a sight rapidly disappearing. In her early 1900s childhood there
was no refrigeration and it was no wonder that the milk went off
quickly, standing in metal churns beside the road waiting for
collection. Even then it had to travel by train to the cities.
Loading milk churns onto a train - photographed from
a display in the Swindon Steam Museum. According to the caption: 'In the
1920s, 60 express trains brought fresh milk from country farms to cities
and towns every day. Today milk is carried entirely by road tankers'.
This website Join me in the 1900s is a contribution to the social history of everyday life in early to mid 20th century Britain, seen through personal recollections and illustrations, with the emphasis on what it was like to live in those times. It is © Pat Cryer.