Milk­men – and women – still have lots of bot­tle

Lancashire Life - - COUNTRYSID­E LIFE - WORDS: Mairead Ma­hon PHO­TOG­RA­PHY: John Cocks

Forty years ago, al­most ev­ery­one had their milk de­liv­ered by a milkman. It was an iconic part of Bri­tish life and co­me­dian Benny Hill even had a Top Ten hit with his song about ‘Ernie: The Fastest Milkman in the West’.

But fierce com­pe­ti­tion from the su­per­mar­kets meant that milk floats – fast and slow – be­came a rare sight.

That is all about to change though, as the milkman – and wo­man – is mak­ing a come­back. For the fam­ily which has owned and run Mawdes­ley based Row­land’s dairy for decades, the milkman never quite went away. ‘We have been in this area since the 1920s and we do everything our­selves – from milk­ing our herd of 180 black and white Hol­steins to pas­teuris­ing, bot­tling and, of course, de­liv­er­ing,’ says She­lia Row­land, whose fa­ther founded the dairy and who still runs it with her children and grand­chil­dren, as well as a small team of ded­i­cated staff.

Milk de­liv­er­ies are mak­ing a come­back and its partly thanks to en­vi­ron­men­tal

con­cerns about plas­tic con­tain­ers

The Row­land fam­ily believe there are sev­eral rea­sons for the re­nais­sance – in­clud­ing the fact that peo­ple want to know ex­actly where their food has come from and Row­lands can trace their milk ev­ery step from the field to the doorstep. Another ma­jor fac­tor is that many peo­ple are search­ing for ways to re­duce their use of plas­tic.

‘There has been a huge amount of pub­lic­ity about the dam­age that plas­tic bot­tles are caus­ing both to the en­vi­ron­ment and to wildlife. That doesn’t hap­pen with the tra­di­tional glass bot­tle in which we de­liver milk. Switch­ing to glass is an easy way for us all to do our bit,’ says She­lia’s daugh­ter, Stephanie.

‘Cus­tomers only have to give them a quick rinse and put them back on the doorstep as we ster­ilise them here at the dairy, so they can be safely re-used. Mind you, the old age prob­lem of birds fan­cy­ing a quick drop hasn’t gone away al­though a tile or cup over the top usu­ally does the trick.’

The fam­ily’s herd pro­duces 6,000 litres a day, which means that they can run eight dif­fer­ent doorstep rounds, as well as sup­ply­ing lo­cal shops and other milk­men who don’t have a herd.

Mar­cus Row­land guid­ing cat­tle ac­cross the road at Too­tles Farm

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