Milkmen are back! Demand for doorstep pints sees return of 1960s-style deliverers
- Credit: Archant
They were a mainstay of 1950s and 60s Britain who, in the days before 24-hour convenience stores and online shopping, provided an unrivalled doorstep service.
But just when you thought modern technology had made them all but redundant, it seems the fabled milkman is making a welcome return to Suffolk life.
In their heyday, they delivered a pint or two of the white stuff to every household so there was fresh milk on the doorstep for people’s tea, coffee and morning cereal each morning.
As shops opened longer and supermarket giants like Tesco and Sainsbury’s started delivering to people’s homes at the click of a button, the lights virtually went out on the famous milk float’s night-time deliveries.
Only a handful - such as Gavin Hyde, who still has a route along the Shotley Peninsula - were left to serve who still liked to get their milk the old-fashioned way.
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But now, after years of decline, Mr Hyde and his few remaining colleagues are, for the first time in decades, reporting a growth in demand.
A love of fresh produce is thought to be behind the rise, with Milk and More - the company Mr Hyde works for - now seeking a fresh batch of new recruits.
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“Milk deliveries are coming back into fashion in a big way,” said Mr Hyde, who began delivering milk in his school holidays, aged 11, and says the job helped him grow in confidence as a person.
“I’ve noticed myself averaging another two or three calls a week.
“All the time I’ve been doing it, there’s always been a decline. This is the first year there has not been a decline. It is the first time milk delivery sales are up in 40 years.
“It’s getting to the stage where we need to put more rounds out there and we need to employ more roundsmen.”
While health and safety regulations means the long white coats of years gone by are no more and milk floats have been replaced by electric street scooters, much of the job is the same as it was all those years ago.
That includes working throughout the night and tiptoeing around in the dark, so as not to disturb customers as they sleep.
But 38-year-old Mr Hyde says he would not have had it any other way - and that being a milkman has been a great source of joy in his life.
“It’s been so rewarding, being outside in the countryside watching the sun rise every morning,” he said.
“I’ve become part of the community and everyone knows me. Some of my customers’ children have grown up and I now deliver to them.
“I always say to people that I don’t have customers - I have friends.”
The industry has also, like many others, had to adapt to changing times by taking online orders and also delivering other items along with milk, such as fruit and veg.
Mr Hyde said: “Online orders will come in up to 9pm. There’s so much to do.
“The job is a lot more involved than it sounds. It is about a lot more than just putting milk on the doorstep.”
A lack of work-life balance might be a concern for many people with families, but Mr Hyde believes it has actually given him more time with his wife Rebecca and daughters Ellie and Lauren, now 17 and 13 respectively.
After finishing his shift at 7am, he returns home for breakfast with his family and the school run before grabbing some well-earned sleep.
He then has an evening with his family before heading out to work at around midnight as they go to sleep.
A spokesman for Milk and More said it is “recruiting for milkmen and women in Ipswich as it continues to create a legacy that will ensure the service, with its unique heritage, will be here for generations to come”.
The spokesman added: “Now is great time to become part of the great British tradition of the milkman. Doorstep milk delivery is enjoying a revival.”
To apply, visit www.milkandmore.co.uk/careers