Esoteric London

No. 899: Crouch Hill, N4

Posted in Architectural, Drink, London Labour, Public Art by esotericlondon on August 8, 2013

© Roger Dean RED_3366 copy

Crouch Hill, London, N4. Photo © Roger Dean

London and Londoners in the Eighteen-Fifties and Sixties – Alfred Rosling Bennett, 1924:

Milkmen in those days wore glazed pot-hats and white countrymen’s smocks, and went with two covered pails hung round with measures and suspended by chains and hooks from a stout wooden yoke fashioned to fit the shoulders. When girls were employed, as they sometimes were, they also wore smocks and carried yokes. Neither carts nor barrows were as yet much in evidence in the suburbs, and the London milkman was still a genuine son of toil.
Now and then, a man and girl driving a couple of very clean cows came round and drew milk from the udder straight into customers’ jugs, or at least into a measure that was at once emptied into the jugs. That might be supposed to be a very direct, honest procedure, calculated to render adulteration laws vain and nugatory; but our milkman said that if people could only see the quantity of water “them poor cows” were compelled to drink before starting, they would cease to wonder that the milk was so thin and blue. For many years after this – into the 1880s, I believe – cows were kept at a stand in St. James’s Park and milked as required for customers, who were chiefly nurses and children.

[ The photograph above is of one of the seven exterior sgraffito panels on the old Friern Manor Dairy Company building on the corner of Crouch Hill and Hanley Road, N4. Whilst the milkman is clearly using a cart or barrow of some kind he is still wearing the smock and pot-hat described as his uniform in the text above. R.D.]

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