Milkman retires after 30 years

FACED with howling winds and freezing temperatures, Peter Hart thought life as a milkman wasn't for him.

Dave Gooderham

FACED with howling winds and freezing temperatures, Peter Hart thought life as a milkman wasn't for him.

He quit the fierce weather and early starts of the traditional “milkie” and vowed never to return - but the lure of working outdoors proved too much and he went back to his Sudbury round a few months later.

Now, almost 30 years on, he is handing in the keys of his milkfloat again - and this time it will be for good.

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Mr Hart admitted that more people were buying milk from supermarkets but he was confident the quintessential British image of the chirpy milkman would not die.

He said: “There are some people who now get their milk elsewhere but for others the local milkman is still very important. I have had some customers tell me that I am like part of the family and I have been seeing some of the same faces for almost 30 years.

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“It is lovely in the summer time when you get up early and the sun is shining. I never thought I would last so long but I have such great memories and have met so many nice people.”

The father-of-four, who lives in Sudbury, has worked for the town's H Byham & Sons dairy for 27 years.

He said: “I first worked for Byham's for about 18 months to two years in the late 1970s. We had proper winters in those days and the cold weather got to me. So one day, I just walked into work and left.

“I worked in a factory in Glemsford for a while but I missed working outdoors. I never expected to be a milkman for so long but I have become quite well known with my customers. They have all been fantastic and I would like to thank them.”

Mr Hart delivers to hundreds of homes every day in and around the town centre - including estates on Newton Road, Cats Lane and East Street.

After four decades of getting up at 4am Mr Hart, who celebrates his 65th birthday next week and retires on October 4, said he was looking forward to spending more time with his wife Jean and having some lay-ins.

§ Milk was first delivered in bottles on January 11, 1878 - now known as Milk Day and celebrated annually.

§ The doorstop delivery of milk is seen as part of the UK's heritage but dairies were forced to diversify following a steep decline in orders during the 1990s.

§ Though unable to put an estimate on it, it is thought Mr Hart delivered more than 50,000 bottles of milk a year - or a total of around 1,350,000 pints.

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