The Milkman, His Horse, and Other Memories

Christine Partridge (nee Sharman)

In my previous contribution I said I lived on the Harebreaks Estate, in Middle Way. I remember well Ron the Milkman with his horse. Mum would give him a cuppa and I would always rush out as a child to chat to the horse, who never replied!! I remember our next door neighbour Mrs. Needle who would rush out when the horse did its business. She would scurry behind the horse, in her white tennis outfit, scooping up the droppings with her shovel and place them in a bucket for her roses, just like to say. I remember her son was called Noel Needle. Every Saturday when Mum paid the bill she’d give Ron a cuppa and a 6d tip. Her divvy number was 32119, I’ll never forget it.

Phil the Laundryman would call weekly to deliver our newly laundered sheets and collect the dirty ones. We didn’t have a washing machine and my mum was virtually blind. We weren’t well off, but needs must in such circumstances. He too received 6d tip.

I think the baker was called Mr. Ellis, but can’t recall his first name. He’d bring a large wicker basket round the back on a Saturday with the selection of loaves and cakes. Mr. Alban who had a green grocers shop in Leavesden Road would deliver our greengrocery on the Saturday which Mum would have ordered when we called in on Friday.

Gazing longingly at the boxes

On our way back from visiting my Nan in Parker Street Mum would also stop at Mrs Finches, the grocers to pick up some shopping and I would gaze longingly at the square boxes with glass lids containing biscuits. I loved it when we had some of the broken biscuits which were cheaper. She also bought one ounce of butter with her post war food coupon allowance. Such luxuries.

She had an assistant called Ina. Her shop was just past Girlings the bakers where my Uncle Charlie was one of the bakers there. The freshly made bread and cakes were all so appealing and I loved the savoury rolls. I so remember the real Hovis loaves and the delicious nutty flavour which has gone forever. That was real bread. We were spoilt for choice. I used to collect one of there bloomer loves on my bike. Having just come out of the oven, the smell of the loaf was intoxicating. I would strap this across the pannier on the back of my bike, but by the time I got home with the heat of the loaf it bent into an upside down ‘V’ shape, but it still tasted the same.

Happy Daze……

This page was added on 27/06/2013.

Comments about this page

  • Hello I used to live in beech road too, ron the milkman was ron aldersly who lived in middle way. There was also an express dairy delivery man caled fred, as kids we also looked forward to the rag and bone man coming round his name was archie and lived off leavesden road, we used to exchange our old clothes for a few pennies or a small toy.

    By Terry lawson (13/08/2018)
  • Hi all,

    I wonder if anyone has any memories of my Dad’s dad, William (Bill) Smith who was a milkman for Express Dairy(ies) in the 60’s/early70’s.

    Unsure of his rounds but I know he would have been in the Oxhey area as I’m often told he delivered milk to the Shirley Eaton (actress in Goldfinger who was covered in gold and killed) – and she lived in Oxhey!


    By Lisa Smith (16/05/2018)
  • I lived in Beech Road, Ron the Co-op milkman delivered to us too, his horse knew the round as well as he did, my mum also got the ‘divi’ for our clothes, she also bought her groceries from the Co-op in Leavesden road/Gammons lane, near the horse trough, there was a Co-op butchers there too, but we didnt get much meat. Do you remember ‘Percy Grillo’ the ice cream man, coming around in his electric van ?

    By Raymond Jenner (15/12/2017)
  • Hi Christine, I too remember Ron the milkman. At one time I used to help him on a Saturday and I remember being petrified when, popping in for one of his many cups of tea I was left sitting outside on the cart at the top of fuller road scared stiff that big grey horse of his would gallop off down the hill towing me behind it. Needless to say it never did.
    I also remember Jack Alban the greengrocer and eagerly looked forward to his delivering the greengrocery on a Saturday especially when his son David helped with the delivery. All the girls in the street fancied David and who remembers going round to Froomes the grocers on a cold snowy night with their basin for hot faggots and peas pudding.
    Id like to take a bet there are still those who remember the dell when it was nothing more than a big hole that we used to slide down only to end up in the stinging nettles at the bottom. Our legs itched for days but it didn’t stop us , it was great fun. I have so many memories. Life back then was hard but we made the most of what we had and I think we were a lot happier for it.

    By kathleen flaherty nee potter (20/08/2015)
  • Have just come across this wonderful page and am delighted to read so many comments about my hometown. I now live in Norfolk, but being reminded of my childhood in the Watford of the 50’s and 60’s is a real treat – especially when I see comments from my cousin Christine Partridge with whom I shared many happy times!

    By Eve Bennell (14/02/2014)
  • Hi Ian Needle, As soon as I saw your comment on the 17th January I responded saying I was quite happy to make contact, but as this site do not publish email addresses or contact numbers I was unable to email you. Unfortunately, to date they have not printed my reply. I didn’t want you to think I had ignored you. Christine

    By Christine Partridge (nee Sharman) (24/01/2014)
  • Hello Ian (Needle), More than happy to make contact with you, but due to the privacy rules of this site I do not have your email address. Any suggestions? Christine Partridge

    By Christine Partridge (nee Sharman) (18/01/2014)
  • Hi especially for Christine Partridge(nee Sharman).. Mrs Needle in her Whites was my Granny … Noel Needle became my adoptive father, a very kind, sweet man … He died in 2005 at 82 …. If you see this please email me. ..Ian A Needle … Ps I went to Queens School Bushey 1973/1978 then Watford Art College…. Very special

    By Ian A Needle (17/12/2013)

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