Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden - Chinese proverb

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Changing Chippenham


I've been taking a series of photos to show how this town is changing and an article on today's news prompted me to choose this picture as my first post on the subject. It's the front of the old Dairy Crest depot in the centre of town and symbolises the decline of home delivered milk over the past couple of decades. Now just 10% of milk is delivered to homes via 7,000 delivery rounds - 20 years ago it was 40% via 20,000.
I feel sad about this state of affairs, but I'm just as much to blame as anyone else. After all, I buy my milk from the supermarket in plastic bottles, lured by its very cheap price - often 15p a pint less than what the milkman offers. There's much talk of supermarkets using milk as a 'loss leader' to lure us into their stores and forcing the prices they pay to farmers down in spite of increasing production costs. I don't know enough about that to say whether it's true, but I'd now like to change to the more eco-friendly home delivery option please. Sadly, I believe this is no longer available in our area, and I expect I'll be taking another picture soon when this site starts to get redeveloped.
It wasn't all doom and gloom though, the BBC reports that the remaining milk rounds in the UK are branching out to give customers a wider range of daily home delivered goods. This is proving to be a lifeline to my elderly mum in Birmingham, where she's at least assured of the basics when she can't get to the shops.

7 comments:

  1. Although I buy my wife's Virtually Fat Free Milk from the supermarket, I still drink whole milk and have it delivered. The milkman only delivers four times a week so I just have one pint on each delivery. Since I don't put milk in tea, I have cornflakes for both breakfast and supper and still pour about a fifth of each pint down the drain. I don't care about the costs especially - the real bonus is that the milkman also supplies eggs and I know they'll be fresh and unbroken. I could never buy eggs while out shopping for fear of them not arriving home in one piece!

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  2. I would love to have milk delivered, and look into it periodically. My local dairy now does organic, so that is one obstacle removed but seriously: the prices! I am fortunate to be in a position where price isn't everything and if it was a few pence then I'd happily pay it to keep the milkmen in business and for the glorious convenience of milk on the doorstep. But it is nearly twice the price as *waitrose* organic milk - not even cheap supermarket milk - so I just cannot justify it to myself. Sad but true.

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  3. Ackworth & Lisa - you both represent the mixture of feelings I have on the subject and I'm pulled in both directions on this one. I know I should be supporting a milkround business as it's part of my community, but have difficulty in justifying paying out so much more. I've found since my original post that Dairy Crest do still deliver in my area and they also deliver a wide range of organic food. I just need to investigate how their prices would affect our weekly budget. I'll keep you posted!

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  4. We used to get our milk delivered when we moved to the States in 1968. I always loved that.

    All of our supermarkets are getting into online shopping with home delivery and it's actually quite reasonable.

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  5. In my country in the big provincial cities, it stopped the delivery fresh milk before eight-ten years.
    It is sold only in supermarkets. In certain only villages still passes the milkman.
    But now in the cities, it begins a new fashion, you make with a call your shoppings in her your supermarket neighborhood,in him send delivery in the house your. See that we will still reach.

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  6. I clearly remember the milk floats in England and the bottles on the doorstep - we don't have that systen here in Australia.

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  7. Nessa & Costas - the supermarkets are heavily into online sales and home delivery here too. The difference with the milkround is that they will deliver daily, even if it's just 1 pint of milk. If you did that via the supermarket it would cost you a fortune as it costs £5 per delivery!

    David - glad you stopped by and shared your memories. I'm surprised there's no provision in Oz, even in the cities?

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