Gail Thornton
a pictorial archive of horse


Dairy Vehicles

In 1890 W.Vincent, a specialist in building milk floats, advertised the Reading Milk Float as “very showy, the most compact cart made and very smart for the trade”.  The price was £22 for pony size or £24 for cob size, which included it being painted with writing in gold.  It would have been similar in style to the float above.  On both the wall and float you can see the name “Tuck & Sons” but there is no location other than “Station Dairy”. On the sign on the wall it advertises them as “Dairymen and Cowkeepers” which I think is a lovely description for what we would now describe as a stockman or livestock farmer.

This design of float, though seen as traditionally, was not widely used until the 1890’s. It was designed to be balanced and stable so as not to spill the milk and usually having holes bored in the flour to help with cleaning out and washing down. As a result of the regular repetitive rounds the horses would often walk door to door unattended as the deliveries were being made.  On this real photographic postcard the advertising board appears to say “A.J.Boroughes Dairyman” which is quite ironic when it is actually been driven by a young lady.  There is more writing on the front board, which may give a location, but unfortunately it is not easy to read.  As the postcard has not been postally used or written on there is no additional information to help with identification.

This is a photograph rather than a postcard and gives a clear image of the vehicle. You can see where the reins run through a metal bracket at the front of the float in order to lift them above the milk churns.  This was helpful as the vehicle was driven from a position at the back of the float, behind the churns.  On the back of the picture someone has written “Lea Hall Farm”, though whether this was a guess taken from the writing at the front of the float or an accurate identification of the origins it is difficult to know.  The side board says “Late James…” but the rest of the wording is difficult to see due to the wheel. The gentleman looks like he is not one to be messed with, he certainly doesn’t look in the mood for this photograph 

This is obviously a more modern vehicle and a van rather than a float.  I have included it as milk floats and vans were among the first to have rubber tyres so that they made minimal noise when making early morning deliveries. By the time of this photograph, maybe 1960/70, milk was being delivered in bottles and would be stored in crates therefore the vehicles were higher therefore more accessible.  The advertisement on the front of the van says “Greenwoods T.T Milk” but nothing to give an indication of location. However Mike from Dart Castings has done some research and suggests that it is has been taken in the Bradford Area and suggests, because of the bus in the background and the Mk 1 Ford Transit van, which was introduced in October 1965 the postcard was taken no earlier that then.

Though this postcard has not been postally used there are a lot of clues to indicate the location being in Essex. Above the shop it clearly states “Coppins Hall Farm Dairy”, the same as on the floats advertising board.  In the top window it claims “Clacton Medical Officers report on this milk. This milk is of exceptionally rich quality”. This could be referring to the Milk (Amendment) Order, 1917, which came in to force at the end of the year and required milk to be sold only by Imperial measure. It also required that milk contained no colouring or additional water and could only bear the traders own name or trade mark except where specific consent had been obtained.  Interestingly in the window is a “Notice of Reward” which is offering £5 to anyone giving information regarding any employee of the Coppin’s firm who is found to be watering the milk.  This would suggest that they had previously been fined under the above order. Next door is a “Picture Frame Makers” advertising stationary goods at “London Prices”, which suggests the prices were cheaper in the capital then than they are today. 

In the early 1900s it was common for the milkman to make deliveries twice a day, morning and late afternoon. He would go door to door with a large can of milk with measures hanging on the side, one a pint measure and the other a half depending on the requirements of the customer. The amount required would then be emptied in to their own jug so no need for sterilising of bottles and collecting the empties. In this postcard, with all three turnouts dressed up one can only assume that they are going to a show. The milk float in the middle is advertising “J.Norton” but the other vehicles cannot be identified. The floats maybe carrying mineral water or possibly milk in bottles given the crates that can be seen.  The card has not been postally used or written on so there are very little clues to its location.

Here is a slightly different style of vehicle more a milk cart than float. It is squarer in body and higher off the ground, though still low enough for loading the churns as the backboard would let down. The young lad looks very proud posing for his photograph with the inquisitive cows behind.  The vehicle belongs to “John Ridley Dairy” but there is no other information available to indicate the location.

Lots of tantalising information here but none that helps with identifying the location or gentleman, in his bowler hat and apron, proudly standing with his horse and vehicle. You can clearly see that the float belongs to the shop behind with both advertising “Eureka Dairy”. More difficult to read is the mans name on the top side panel but I think it says “G.Long”. The float also advertises that it is “Special Milk” and what looks to be the word “Invalids” maybe promoting something similar to Malted Milk.  Malted milk powder, invented by William Horlick in 1897, was promoted as an easily digested restorative health drink for invalids and children and also as an infant’s food. The wording on the shop window “Pure New Milk” makes me smile as what is it suggesting, that there could be pure old milk?

Another square cart but this time no fancy advertising boards, just a no nonsense turnout. With no advertising and nothing written on the card it is impossible to say who the chap is or where he is standing.

Another milk cart with no information to indicate who the lad is or where the photograph has been taken. I like the way the horse is looking in to the camera, what a poser.

Again this postcard has not been postally used and though it may have some writing on the side of the cart it is not easy to read. The only letters able to be identified are “Notts” just at the front of the side pane near the horses rear.   

This turnout belongs to “E.Gardiner”, possibly of Kilham. As there is nothing else on the postcard the only other way of identifying this card is if someone recognises the impressive house in the background.

Often vehicles are given a name to categorise usually linked to their designer or location such as the Reading Milk Float. In driving circles the “Pickering Float” is a well know style of vehicle and this is an example of it. The style of reign bracket at the front, along with the shape of the body and the seat at the back to the right for the driver rather than having to stand. This vehicle belongs to “Fulwood Park Dairy” which can be seen written on the advertising board over the wheel.  On the back of the postcard somebody has written “Ribbleton, Sutton in Ashfield, Sheffield” but this may be just a guess who knows.

Though painted scrolls and a milk churn can be seen on this postcard there is no name inscribed on the panelling to help with identification. 

What a bobby dazzler in his straw boater and striped jacket. This gentleman is driving a vehicle belonging to “Fowler Bros, Dairy, 72 Embden St, Hu” the rest of the address is behind the rear of the horse. Using the internet however I have been able to identify it as Hulme, Manchester though I cannot say whether the gent is one of the Fowlers or their employee. 

Another example of what looks like a Pickering Float with the name of “W.E.Helliwe..” possibly Helliwell.  I can also just make out below the name the word ”Marton” which could be in Middlesborough but that is just a guess. Though the chap is not in any finery it looks like he is preparing for a show as the horses mane has been plaited with ribbons and the vehicle does look very clean.

No frills with this milk cart it has been built for the job in hand but with no advertising boards in sight. This cart may have been designed with a seat in the middle or it could be that the driver is sat on a box it is very hard to tell. There is no information available to identify the location.

Unfortunately the condition of the card is not good and therefore it is difficult to make out the name on the advertising board above the wheel.  Whether these boys have just been sent for the milk or belong to the driver it is impossible to say, as is who the dog belongs to.

The advertising board at the front of this vehicle does have a name on but I have not been able to identify what it says. There are no other marks to help with location.

This looks like a milk float but I can see no milk churn or advertising panel to confirm it.

A poor quality postcard but you can just make out the top of the milk churn in the cart. The most noticeable thing is the weather that this poor horse has got to contend with but at least he has a rug over his back end

Unfortunately there is nothing to really identify who or where this photographic postcard has been taken.  However the postcard dealer has written on "S/Wales" and "E.Rowlands" but there is no guarantee that this is correct.

The postcard has been produced by Thirlwell & Co, Stockton, Middlesboro, West Hartlepool, Newcastle.  Otherwise there is no other information to identify location.

It would appear that these boys have been collecting their milk from this milkman and the dog is probably with them.  There is an advertising board on top of the cart but unfortuntely it is difficult to make out the name of the dairy.