The slogan “Drinka Pinta Milka Day” was coined in 1958 for the Milk Marketing Board, and is a phrase that has stuck in the minds of several generations of people since.
Children’s milk floats create immediate nostalgia for an era, now long gone, when the milkman delivered milk and dairy products to every doorstep in the country. For vintage vehicle enthusiasts, this toy milk float has an additional nostalgic element in that it is based on a hand-drawn electric vehicle, used by milkmen, postmen and rubbish collectors, appliances which appear to have been overlooked in the history of vintage vehicles.
1960s Triang United Dairies Milk Float
LENGTH: 29″ (including handle)
HEIGHT: 20″ (including handle)
Wheels 4.5″ with solid tyres
Though this milk float is not as old as most of the items in the collection, there do not appear to be many survivors. It’s a well-constructed three-wheeler, made of metal whereas the previous (smaller) Triang milk floats were wooden. It was restored to a very high standard by a serious pedal car collector, and is still in very good condition.
I followed it on its rounds delivering bottles of milk to the doorsteps of Rottingdean High St.
The first hand-drawn electric milk floats appear to have been made in the 1930s by Elektruk for Express Dairies. Manulectrics were subsequently made by Sidney Holes Electric Vehicles, of London Road, Withdean, Brighton. The pedestrian controlled electric floats were sold to operators who delivered milk as well as to the Post Office for mail delivery and local councils as dust carts.
“The Manulectric range evolved out of Sidney Holes experience of retail milk delivery in Hove. Originally delivery had been by hand cart, working out of a depot/shop in Church Road, Hove. Holes then established the Holes & Belgravia Dairy, in The Droveway, and Holes & Davigdor Dairy, in Davigdor Road. Hand cart delivery must have been very labour intensive. Roundsmen using such hand carts no doubt found it difficult, particularly in the winter months with wet and icy roads, to operate in some of the hillier areas of Hove. No doubt this gave rise to a desire for vehicles which were independently powered and had brakes that were effective both when negotiating gradients and leaving carts unattended when delivering milk to doorways.
In 1947 Holes started production of battery electric powered three wheel milk floats controlled, via a tiller, by a pedestrian driver. These could carry 24 milk crates and employed a 24V battery powering a 1hp electric motor. The range was just 10 miles but, presumably, this was sufficient for an urban milk round at this time. Subsequently the model was upgraded with a 2hp motor, mounted over and driving the rear axle, and using helical gears. It was steered by the tiller, which was connected to the single front wheel. It had an extrordinary small turning circle, being able to turn through 90º to the left and right. As such, presumably it was perceived to have no need for a reverse gear.
Having achieved success in the milk delivery market, in 1952 Manulectric turned its attention to refuse collection, producing a lightweight 8 cwt dust cart based on its milk delivery vehicle.”
[Manulectrics – http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=18614.0]
MILK DELIVERIES THROUGH THE AGES
Victoria & Albert Museum – https://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O1191434/tri-ang-milk-lines-bros-ltd/
Manulectrics – http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=18614.0
Express Dairy Elektruk – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewis_Electruk
Commercial Motor magazine article – https://archive.commercialmotor.com/article/24th-august-1951/48/battery-electric-marathon