Compulsory pasteurization after the war finished off ll the small dairies in Wolverton as I have discussed here.
Only the Co-op was big enough to manage this and post war they had the milk monopoly. Their dairy was at the back of the Co-op grocery on the corner of Jersey Road and Church Street. There was also stabling for the horse.
The picture above is not exactly like the Co-op milk float of the 40s and 50s, but it has many of the same features – rubber wheels, a cab for the delivery people at the front and a flatbed dray for the milk crates.
Each morning, very early, Mr & Mrs Odell would don their brown smocks, load the float and harness the horse (Dobbin?) who would patiently haul the load through Wolverton’s streets.The float itself was silent. Only the chink of milk bottles betrayed any sound. Often, outside our house, the horse would arch its tail and leave a pile of steaming horseshit in the middle of the road. Within minutes someone would come along with a shovel and bucket to recycle the offending pile as manure.
The Co-op had a system of milk tokens. You would buy these from the Co-op groceries on Church Street or the Square and leave them on the doorstep – the number depending on how many pints you needed that morning.
Bottles in those days had cardboard tops. On very cold mornings the top would freeze and push ff the lids as it expanded.
The only source of milk, the other staple in our lives, was the Co-op. Reuben “Pop” Bremeyer had run a small dairy at 115 Windsor Street before the war, but he had retired when I knew him andhis sons had left home and his daughter Alice operated a small greengrocery/corner shop at that address.
The Co-op dairy was on Jersey road at the back of the Co-op grocery on Church Street. The building have been changed and adapted now but there were stables for the horse here and a shed for the horse-drawn dray. This was another job that required an early start and each morning Mr & Mrs Odell (I think that was the name) would don their brown smocks, harness the horse known as “Dobbin”, load the dray with crates of milk bottles and work their way quietly around the town.
Milk was paid for by the purchase of tokens from the Co-op on the Square. These were aluminium disks about the size of a penny, smaller for a half pint and coloured red for special items like cream. Tokens for whatever you required could then be left on the doorstep overnight. The milk carton had yet to be invented, so all milk came in bottles sealed with cardboard caps with a pull tag – they fitted into the slightly-recessed bottle top. Later on in the 50s the aluminium seal began to appear.
Milk was either tuberculin tested (TT) or pasteurised before it was bottled. Co-op milk was pasteurised. Cream was not entirely separated from the milk and each pint bottle would have an inch or so of cream rising to the top. On the occasional frosty winter morning the milk would freeze and the expansion would pop the cardboard cap and poke up a finger of frozen milk.