Sometimes he would place a pint on the front step of a house where the only part of the building that had survived was the doorstep itself – knowing that neighbours would find where the occupants were sheltering and make sure they got their milk.
Often the ‘milkman’ would actually be a woman, or a young boy, or a man too old for active service, because the regular roundsman had been called up. Many of those roundsmen never came home.
Britain’s Wartime Milkmen is a fascinating new book, packed with photographs and anecdotes, charting how our milkmen played a key role in the nation’s morale through the Great War and into the Second World War.
One of the photos shows a fleet of new electric milk floats belonging to G. Cartwright & Son, of Dunstable Road, Luton, outside their premises, where there is a notice pleading for customers to return empty bottles.
The book shows how the industry went through many changes, from three deliveries a day made by ‘milk pram’, a heavy handcart containing large churns from which the milkman measured out the milk for customers, to the introduction of bottled milk delivered by horse-drawn carts, and finally to the electric milk-float.
Britain’s Wartime Milkman, a large-format paperback with more than 100 colour and black-and-white photos, is published by Chaplin Books and is priced £9.99. Visit www.chaplinbooks.com