My Milk Round
By Terry Trainor
My Milk round with Braziers Dairy. As a young boy I used to help the milkman on the weekends and in the school holidays. This meant getting up at four in the morning and walking the two miles to Braziers Farm in Oxhey Lane .
These were great days. By the time I arrived at the dairy my usual milkman Bill had already nearly loaded the float with milk. My job was to get all the specials, like the creamy gold top, sterilized, butter milk and small bottles of orange juice. There was a shop in the yard that sold bread, biscuits, yogurts, bacon, eggs, thunocks toffee biscuit bars. The shelves were filled with everything you could buy from a corner shop. My favorite breakfast at the dairy was a hot pork pie with Dairy Lee Cheese on the top. At about 04.45 hours we set off to deliver the milk. The float we had was a four wheeler.
Most of the other floats only had three wheels. As it was a four wheeled electric float it went a bit faster than the others and as the convoy of floats set off down Oxhey Lane we gradually overtook most of them. The start of the round was Watford Heath and we would look to see who wanted what, loaded ourselves up and ran through gardens and across drives dropping off the milk.
One of the most annoying things was when somebody had left a note in the empty bottle. It meant that you had to put everything down. It was pitch black as the street lights had not come on yet, so we had to run back to the float to read it in the headlights. If it said, no milk today, one of us would have to run back to take the milk back again. From Watford Heath we would gradually work our way on to South Oxhey Estate. We used to run like the wind so we could get to Bill Taylors Café in Prestwick Road before it got crowded. Most mornings we had a breakfast special. The special was a legend on the Estate and forty five years on I can still see the breakfast being put in front of me by a girl who worked as a waitress. Bill Taylors Café is something I will never forget.
All my friends remember the café down to the finest detail. As you walked through the door a wall of heat warmed you up. We went to the counter and Bill would say,” usual today boys?” and we would sit on the table next to the two pinball machines. These machines were fantastic put a tanner in the slot and if you were good you could get replays and be there all morning. On the milk round we did not have time to play but the coloured flashing lights made me feel good. After a while when the breakfast turned up it was a work of art.
On the plate was fried bread, plum tomatoes, an egg, beans, sausage and crispy bacon. The side dish was a slice of toast and a steaming mug of hot tea and I used to put four sugars in it. Today there are many food programs about fine dining and how things should be cooked. Bill was way ahead of his time everything he sold in the café was a joy. A Wide variety of milk shakes banana, lime, strawberry, and vanilla, chocolate all with a big blob of ice cream. This was all whooshed up in a metal beaker. There was always too much in the beaker to get in the fluted glass he gave you the metal beaker to refill the glass. So you really got two glasses. There was a glass cabinet with loads of different cakes and sweets. After we had finished the next road we delivered on was Fairfield Avenue . On A Saturday I had a leather pouch over my shoulder with plenty of change in it. About eight o’clock we started knocking on doors for the milk money. Milk was about ten old pence a pint for silver top. And the red homogenized, the creamy gold top and the horrible sterilized milk was a couple of pence more.
Most people had bills that had shillings and pence. If a bill was nine and six they would probably say keep the change. At the end of the day on a Saturday tips may be as high as ten shillings. My pay on a week day and a Sunday was five shillings and on Saturday it was seven shillings and sixpence. With my ten bob in tips the money for a child was really good. On a Saturday we had to call back on the customers we delivered to before eight o’clock . We used to be offered so many cups of tea at the weekend we had to turn most of them down.
I have often told my grandchildren about working at Braziers on the milk and one of my favorite stories was that in the winter we used to go into the fridges at the farm to get warm before we started. They politely listen and then giggle at the thought. But milk was stored at four degrees to stop it from freezing so if the weather was minus five the fridges seemed warm.