Co-op dairy

Co-op dairy at junction of Kingstanding and Hawthorn – Dyas Road

Memories of Bernie Ryman

Coop Dairy sports day ca 1950. Courtesy of Bernie Ryman

left to right Bernie Ryman, Tom Smith, Cyril Hethington, Norman Broad, Bert Tyler, Dennis Linden

The CO-OP sports day was held every year  All the Men Wives and Children went.   I think it was held at, what used to

be Kynochs  ICI sports field.   There was all the usual sports.   The mile walk. I always came second to Norman Broad

Tug of War  All types of races, They had a baby contest , When we won the tug of war one year as in the photo We all

got a little cake stand.

Memory of Maurice Sellar

Remember the dairy next door to the barracks on Kingstanding road, there was about 10 or more magnificent clydesdales they pulled the carts loaded wth milk that was delivered all over the area. When there was snow or frost on the ground the drvers had to have two horses on to get the cart up the hill onto Hawthorn road. I can remember fully laden carts going full gallop down the Warren Farm hill (Ernie was not a patch on these drivers) One of the dares in those days was to walk beneath the horse when it was stationary eating his chaff. Sadly with the advent of electric milk carts these horse were all sent to the knackers yard or after a big outcry to the home for old horses down south.

Memories of Les Robinson

I worked at the dairy for a few years jockeying for various milkos. This was just after the horses had been phased out. The area covered by the dairy was extensive. Kingstanding to Erdington and Sutton, Great Barr to Hamstead. Eventually I got my own round around Dyas Ave. Back of the Towers pub. I always remember the gaffer one Sunday morning was pulling his hair out after about 20 of us had been to a party and was late. His comment as I passed was”This is a dairy……..smells more like a brewery.”

Firstly I started in July 1964 after leaving Great Barr Comprehensive.My  first week was as a jockey to the milkman delivering down Warren Farm Road then  College Road finishing on Jockey Road.After that I was given a permanent  round as a jockey starting at the “Golden Hind” delivering  to all the  streets off  Greenholm Road.After that we did College Road to The  Ridgeway,Moor Lane,Brookvale Road finishing at” The Barn”

In January 1965 I left UK going to  Australia(my brother was already here)for 2 years.
On my return in 1967 I worked again at the dairy  again as a jockey until I got my licence to legally drive a milk float.I was the  given a round the back of “The Towers”on Walsall Road.I did all the houses  finishing at Old Walsall Road.I did that for a year or more before leaving  for Oz again.
When I first started  in 1964 all deliveries  were by electric floats but there were a few horses still stabled at the dairy  seeing out their time.All were 2 man rounds with the milkman and a jockey  who were usually kids under 18.Deliveries were done 7 days a week usually  arriving at the gates at 4.30-5am when the dairy opened.Sundays were busy as  families ordered extra pints and cream.Mondays were also busy as it was  the biggest collection day  for empty bottles.We finished about  11am both days. Tuesday,Wednesday and Thursday were good early  finishing days about 10am.Both Friday and Saturday were long days not  finishing until 5-6pm.Both days the jockey would deliver all the milk whilst the  milkman collected his cash.The other 5 days of the week we would deliver  milk with the jockey doing the passenger side houses and the milkman the  drivers side.It was common for the kids to drive the float Fridays and  Saturdays although unlicensed as it saved time.It took longer for the  milkman to collect his cash so he was always behind the jockey.At that time  there were 4 types of milk  delivered….pasteurised,homoganised,steralised(usually used for cups of tea)and  Jersey gold cap(creamier) which was a penny dearer than normal pasteurised  milk.In that first stint at the dairy Ski yoghurt,eggs and butter were  introduced as sale items.
In1967 when I got my own round the dairy were  slowly changing to one man rounds.The range had also increased with tea and  cheese added.
Kingstanding Dairy covered a fair territory its  extremities being Scott Arms,Chester Road,Erdington,Wyrley Birch,Aldridge  Road,Beeches Estate,Hamstead Village and back to Scott Arms.
The 1st of 2  stories I can relate to was when  the milkies went on a stag night for one of the lads.We  then partied hard into the early hours of  the morning. When we headed for the dairy(about 20 of us) we were about an  hour late for work and the gov’ner was really fretting.His words as we walked  through the dairy gates
still echo today….”This is a dairy but smells  more like a damn brewery this morning”. Remember we all had to drive our  milkcarts….no breathalisers or OH&S in those days.
The other incident happened as I  was  delivering  down the hill on Burnham Road.It was snowing,pavement  slippery,I had 2  milk carriers full  with another half a dozen  bottles under my arm.I also had a “Park Drive”
cigarette between my lips.Looking down the hill I  suddenly was in a panic when I saw my fathers works vehicle(He was boss of  the Salvage Department on Moor Lane) turn into the street.I desperately  tried to spit out the fag but it had stuck to my lip with the cold  weather.Finally I got it out but not before it took skin from  my lip with  it.I hoped my Dad had not seen the fag but he had and he tore into me with  a lecture when I got home.

Memories of Bernie Ryman

I worked from the Dairy just down from Dyas Road and Hawthorn road, That was the only Co-op dairy in that area next to the drill hall. It was on a slope, with stables at the bottom, all the empty carts were parked on the side of the slope opposite were the offices with a receptionist, and the boss man a Mr Kinsella. Then up on the road level was the loading deck and all the milk was bought out from the cool rooms;  which had been bought down the previous afternoon from the main dairy in the city. The other two dairies in the area were Midland counties, down towards the circle, and there was also a small dairy called I think  Wades Cattel and Gorden.  It might have been on the corner of Old Oscot Hill and Kingstanding road.

I started work at the Co-op milk dairy on Kinstanding road in 1940 as a boy. And eighteen months later took over a round as the older men were called up. My round started in Kings road and finished in Cooksey lane. We had horses in those days and had to start early in the morning. Saddle the horse [Tasty] put studs in during the winter, light the candles in lamps, and of we went Hail Rain or Snow. At times when the snow and drifts were heavy we would get as far as possible then use a sleigh to finish the round. During the war we had to take turns sleeping at the dairy in case the place was bombed and we had to get the horses out. We only sold Milk and Cream ie sterilized, pasteurized and T.T Milk. After I left they started selling eggs butter orange juice etc.



  1. I was very interested reading the comments about the co-op dairy especially as I was half in love with our milk lad (Dougie Letts) but his 15 year old heart was spoken for but my 14 year old heart soon mended. Can I ask you Bernie did you ever deliver in Twickenham Road, the name Bernie and milkmen triggered a memory of a tall young man with a shock of sandy wavy hair being given a cup of tea by my grandma and mom on Saturdays (when we paid the bill). I live up north now (support the magpies & the villa) but I was in Goodway Road 2 weeks ago and recalled the dairy and drill hall (I was visiting school friend from Dulwich Rd). You are probably a figment of my imagination Bernie (I am nearly 8 0) but love reading everything about Kingstanding. Bye (I was Shirley Bartram)

  2. its so awsome reading from past memories x

  3. Hi Shirley
    I did a milk round and Twickenham Road was part of it.,I think from about 1960 until 1967 until we came to Australia I also live in Parkeston Crescent think it was no 147 Unfortunately no Sandy Wavy Hair But i am tall and I am sure I would have delivered to your Mom
    Regards Bernie

  4. hi Bernie, nice to hear from you , yes I think you may have delivered to my mom as she was still at 97 Twickenham Road in the 60s but it was 1946/47 or thereabouts that I have this distant memory of a tall wavy haired Bernie, mustt have been 2 of you. Most of the lovely Kingstanding people who respond to my ramblings are so much younnger than me. I was married from 97 Boxing Day 53 and lived in Bandywood Road, you may have delivered there too. The gentleman who posted a comment about the dairy before your reply seems to be of the era that played a big teenage part in my life, my boyfriend (briefly) Dougie Letts delivered our milk and the heavy clip clop of the lovely shire horses had me running to the door to chat with the said milk lad 1944/45. Anyhow Bernie I had great friends in Parkeston Crescent, 3 sisters Margaret, Enid and Iris Gouldingay (I will be seeing Iris on my birthday in October ) and also my aunt Jean Jones who also lived in Parkeston Crescent , I will be seeing Jean too in Oct and passing where the dairy was as she lives off Goodway Road. I do hope you`re having a good life in Australia – I have a longstanding invite to stay with a dear friend who lives in Ashmore 4214 Queensland, probably thousands of miles from where you and your family are but allwayss pleased to hear from you. Kind regards Shirley who will getting the 33 bus to the Boars Head for her birthday meal and then back to Newcastle on Tyne. Bye for now Shirley!

  5. Hi Shirley
    Les Robinson who posted a comment about the dairy, is a friend of mine But he lives in Melbourne, We also lived there until I retired and then we came to live in Sunny Queensland, about half and hour by car from where
    your friend lives. I got married in 1961 and lived in Banners Gate Road Sutton Coldfield. From there we went to live in Great Yarmouth were we had a guest house for six years Then came back to Birmingham and lived in Elmbridge road. Very Close to the Boars Head and in 1967 we decided to move to Australia, which we have never regreted I have just Emailed Les to see if he remembers Dougie Letts and will, let you know Hope you had a Lovely Birthday
    Regards Bernie

  6. Hi Bernie, thanks so much for your reply, I hope your friend Les has some small recollection of Dougie Letts, its strange how you never forget your 1st love but I do know that he married the love of his life and he is alive and well somewhere in Streetly but the last time I was with him was on a bike ride with another 2 friends and stopped to watch the red arrows 1948/49. Boxing Day 1950 was the day I first met my future Geordie husband and 3 years later on Boxing Day we married at Trinity Church Perry Barr and had 44 more wonderful years together. My husband loved Birmingham and also “The gang” 4 lovely couples from Kingstanding, we shared everythiing, weddings, christenings and later our childrens weddings ad other celebrations. Sadly only me and my 2 friends from Parkeston and Twickenham Road are still together and one lives at the Greenway Bannersgate, I remember Bannersgate well and of course Sutton Park and have cousins further along in Streetly, Brownhills and Cannock. Im so glad you and your family are so happy in Queensland, I know my lovely friend there, like you has never regretted leaving the north of England for her new home. For the last 14 years I have missed my husband terribly and my thoughts have turned to my hometown much much more but I love it here, 3 miles from the sea (the very cold north sea) the countryside and the castles and of course Im just a train ride away from my other home. I am quite new to my lap top it was a 2011 Xmas present and as you can see I am very quick to reply and ramble on about anything that brings back a memory or two, I am still waiting for someone to say they actually knew me but being silver surfer could be the reason but i have shared a lot of memories with so many from Kingstanding so I will say farewell for now Bernie and kind regards to you and your family and your pal Les, will look for any news. Bye for now Shirley.

  7. This is a PS to Bernie, seeing the photo gave me quite a jolt, you obviously have a double, the hairs a little darker but I think I see a fine moustache (could be wrong as eyes dim now) but truly you are our late 40s early 50s milkman double, ah well! Good luck with Les but I think he may be quite a bit young but will look for any news . bye again Shirley.

  8. Sorry Shirley But Duggie Letts still remains a mystery man I had a Email from Les and he can not recall him

  9. My Dad Tony Firkins worked at kingstanding anyone remember him, saw tony Newman a few years ago

    • hi nigel my name is john lambe and i worked with your dad in the very bad winter of 63. he drove oneof the 6 diesel trucks. i rememeber he always used be smoking his pipe. he was a nice guy to work with.

  10. Not sure if I can post up photos in responses, but my grandfather, Harry Johnson, was a milkman for the Co-op in Kingstanding, in the late 30’s. (His father also worked for the Co-op) In 1939 he was called up as militia, and served in the 9th Bn. R. Warwicks. I believe he picked up his round again after the war, before moving away in the 50’s.

    Hopefully the photo link will work. This is him and his horse Holly on the Kingstanding round, just before the war.

    • Hi Mike
      I started at the Co-op dairy in 1940. I am now 86 and i feel sure, I remember the name Harry Johynson but can not put a face to him unfortunatly the photo link did not work My horse was Tasty As you will see at the top of the page. I am first on the left . Are they still alive?

      Kindest regards Bernie

  11. Hi Bernie, I have some of my grandfathers photos uploaded onto flickr, so you can see them by following this link –

    Northern Ireland 1945

    And here is the link to Harry and his horse Holly –

    Harry and Holly

    My grandfather Harry was born in 1918, and died on 2001.

  12. Hi Bernie
    I worked at kingstanding dairy from 1961-1963 It was my first job from school I was 15 and went to Kings Rise school. My name is Raymond Casey and lived in Hartley Rd. I remember the roundsman I worked with was named Don and we worked 6 days a week even Xmas day unless you were lucky to have your day off on that day. I left to join the merchant navy.

  13. Hi,does anyone remember a milkman called David Hale,who used to deliver to the finchley road area,in the late 50s,early 60s.He was also in the navy at some point.Any information would be helpful. Thanks

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