Farming Matters: Nostalgic for milk bottles

Milk bottles
Milk bottles

Clinking glass bottles on the doorstep early in the morning is but a happy distant memory for many, as cardboard cartons and plastic milk bottles bought from the supermarket long ago replaced many a doorstep delivery.

And now that Dairy Crest has announced the closure of its last glass milk bottle plant, the clinking sound looks set to stop completely for many.

In the mid 70s 94% of milk was sold in glass bottles, by 2012 this had dropped to 4%.

The milkman used to be such an iconic sight and sound on British streets. Arriving early in the darkened mornings on his milk float, delivering several glass bottles with a cheery smile.

He was often known by name, and became a friend to lonely people, keeping an eye out for their safety and welfare.

The milk bottles were stoutand sturdy and often had a noticeable cream line at the top, so that the bottles had to be shaken vigorously if you didn’t want a huge plop of cream in your coffee or on your cereal.

Birds sometimes pecked the shiny milk bottle tops and to prevent this some people left a plastic carton or something similar outside for the milkman to pop over the bottles for protection.

By the 1990s the deregulation of the British milk industry and the decision by supermarkets to sell milk very cheaply, in plastic containers, changed everything.

But here locally we can still have glass bottles delivered to our doors if we want them. Having grown up on a dairy farm my husband instists on his dorostep delivery in glass bottles, and he gets them from Wren Davis of Prestwood.