The CO-OP Dairy

The newly built CO-OP dairy stirred into life during the early hours of Tuesday September 31st 1950. The first lorry to arrive with churns of milk was driven by Harold Baxter, from Mr. B. Pickering’s farm at Kneesall. The daily output was expected to be 10,000 gallons.
The building, on Southwell Road West, had taken almost 3 years to construct by Stokes Taylor & Shaw of Sutton. A flag raising ‘topping out’ ceremony had been carried out on the tower block earlier in January.
Mr. T. C. Draycott was the Society’s dairy manager. After pasturising the bottles were filled, and capped, at a rate of 750 and 2000 gallons an hour. The milk was delivered by the dairy’s fleet of 38 electric floats.

Source: Mansfield Chronicle

It was demolished due to mining subsistence in 1982.

CO-OP Dairy
Old Mansfield Society

Comments about this page

  • Does anyone know what was the purpose of the tower in the centre of the Southwell Road dairy? Thanks, Mark Hudson

    By Mark Hudson (28/01/2022)
  • Loved reading the comments about the co-op dairy, brought back fond memories of our milkman Denis on the George Street round in the 1960’s. Bob the disco was mentioned in the comments. That was Robert Aberhall, who did regular discos at Rainworth Catholic club and the Swan Hotel. He did have a great customised van and played great music. Remember a couple of brilliant northern soul nights.

    By Ann Driver (13/08/2021)
  • Hello Alan, should know your Dad and yourself as a young lad, also remember your Mum too, also your grand parents as I lived next door to them on LLS .
    Yes, remember your Dad on the milk churn round, went with him on the odd occasion. Hope you’re keeping well, may remember me brothers Paul and Stuart, when I lived at home my eldest brother also knew Ray Clarke.

    By Mŕ Graham Burton (19/07/2021)
  • Hi all, my dad was a tanker and milk churn wagon driver that brought the milk in, his name was Maurice Clark, sadly got killed at Thoresby Colliery. Had some great times going to dairy with my dad and dropping milk off, and a nice breakfast in cafe, loved them days.
    Anyone that knew my dad Maurice Clark give me a shout, also had a brother Ray Clark

    By Alan Clark (09/07/2021)
  • I was seven when I saw that tower demolished. It was the most exiting thing since my first pair of long trousers.

    By Ryan jennings (07/12/2020)
  • Previous posts have mainly referred to the bulk and float personnel. The following would be a typical day inside the dairy, happening all year round, including Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
    All of the staff mentioned, worked there during the 1960s and 70s, but it is by no means a comprehensive list. Overseen by Alf Meadows and Derek Lacey, the early shift, made up of : Les Benson / Harry Garrity / Roy Fish and Tommy Howell, would start the day with the loading of the lorries for other depots and the milk floats for the doorstep deliveries.
    Tom Brownlow and George Slaney would prepare the pasteurisation plants ready for the day`s deliveries of raw milk.

    On the churn dock, milk from the farms would be delivered by lorries, ( J.E.Flintham and possibly other hauliers,) the contents of each churn being tipped into a stainless steel tank, weighed and recorded before being pumped up to the pasteurisation plants. The empty churns were cleaned and stacked at the other end of the dock to be picked up by the now empty lorry, ready to be taken and exchanged for full ones on the following day`s farm collection.

    The churn dock was usually staffed by : Frank ? / Jean Love and Johnny Sprittlehouse.

    Lorries and milk floats would return throughout the course of the day, with the crates of empty bottles being unloaded by the drivers onto the empties dock, which was usually under the supervision of `Australian Len` Taylor. Here a member of staff would place each crate onto a conveyor to be taken through a hatchway into the main building.

    There were three plants within the main dairy, washing and refilling the bottles, with each one requiring four staff members to operate it.

    Once through the hatchway, an operator would use a compressed air grab to lift out 40 bottles, two crates worth, at a time, which would be fed into the washer.

    Having passed through the washer the sterile bottles would be inspected, and any found with faults would be taken out of the system. Bottles belonging to other dairies, commonly called `foreigners` would also be removed for return to their appropriate company.

    From the washer the bottles would be overseen through the bottling plant, with each one being filled and sealed with a foil top.

    The bottles were then placed back into crates, which had been through their own washer, by another member of staff using a compressed air grab, again two crates at a time, before moving along a conveyor through another hatchway into the `fridge` a temperature controlled area, being stacked twenty crates to a metal pallet by a two man team and stored overnight ready for the whole procedure to start again in the early hours of the following day.

    All of these operations taking place under the watchful eyes of foremen Ted Lilley and Brian Walker.

    Along with those already mentioned some of the other regulars who worked specific jobs were : Jack Greaves / Alan Wright / Kitty Petchey / her daughter, Pam Ward / Ann Marsh / Matt ? / Bert Bartram and Billy Rowe.

    Other staff were also used as cover for days off, holidays etc., or on other tasks such as cheese making and preparing cartons for vending machines, amongst them were : Joan Divit / Bob Stocks / David Robinson / Lynn Hicken / Ken Garrity / Len Allen / Johnny Wharton / Ivan Dove / Tom Bostock / Graham Sampson / Derek `Curly` Thorpe / Graham Parkin-Cotterill / Frank Hallam / Paul? Bennett? and Terry Gittings.

    Some people are only remembered by their Christian name : David, who was deaf / another David, who went to the Quortex on Sutton Road / Melvyn / and yet another David, who bore a passing resemblance to the 1950s actor, Victor Mature / Freddie and Geoff.

    Although not directly involved in the processing operation, but still needed to help keep the dairy running smoothly were : The management and office staff. Canteen Dora ? Laboratory – Maureen Bunce / Audrey ? / Valerie Greenwood? Boilerman – Max Knopek. Fitter – Pete ? Electrician – Dick ?

    Apologies for any inaccuracies, mispronounced or misspelt names and any omissions. Please remember that this was 50+ years ago.

    By Chrissie (26/01/2019)
  • Reading through the comments brought back many happy memories of my time there. Many thanks. I will try and add some memories for all mi ode workmates to enjoy as well.

    The interview for the job as milk roundsman was a group interview of about 6 of us attended on a break from school, which was done in the offices at the dairy comprised of I think 6 mathematical type questions on how much would 15 pints of milk cost etc etc etc. They said when do you finish school and I started work the Monday after. I started there straight from school aged 15 ¼ and was there about 4 years. I was given 2 greyish nylon smocks a leather cash bag & possibly some boots I think.

    Starting time was arranged between you and your work colleague usually between 5 and 6.30 and I was put on a 2 man electric float round down wudhus. But being a young lad starting time was really when Joe said. It made it easier and quicker to do a milk round if both could drive so it wasn’t many days/weeks before I was asked to move the float down the road 20yards or so, then 50, 100, 200 etc because as soon as you had finished delivering (so long as it was after 10.30 if I remember right) you could take the float back to the dairy to check in and the go home or to a second job if you had one which a few did.

    Starting pay was £11.65 I think (a classmate left school the same time as me to be an apprentice bricklayer on £4.50 a week so the pay was fairly good for a school leaver at the coop) Not sure if I’ve got this right but I think, the working days/holidays were, Sat, Sun, Mon off in week 1, Tue off week 2, Wed and Thur off week 3, Fri off week 4. The relief milkman would cover my colleague’s days off and then cover my days as well because the driver and his mate weren’t allowed the same days off. Bank holidays were treble time

    If I remember right I think the wudhus round was approx 140 gallon round where as the one man rounds were approx 80gall although there was some variation cos some 2 man rounds were about 170 gal although some of the ‘diesel’ rounds were less because of the travelling to little villages and long driveways etc.

    I lived up Ladybrook so used to go to the old warehouse across road from the garage on Victoria St at 5 or 5.30ish where vehicle maintenance was done and the diesel lorries for the outlying rounds were stored over night. They were 2 man cabs but when a driver turned up to take the lorry up to the dairy to collect the milk about 4 people would get into the cab and the rest would hang onto the flatbed at the back to get a lift to the dairy, sometimes if you were lucky there would be an empty milk crate to turn upside down and sit on.

    The milk money or milk checks were left on the doorsteps with the empty’s or some customers were allowed credit and you collected the monies by knocking on the doors when delivering the milk on a Saturday morning or by calling back if it was early in the morning when you delivered the milk.

    The silver top milk full fat pasteurised 4 ½ & 5p (pink check I think), Guernsey milk or gold top about 6p was a yellow check and sterilized with a beer bottle shape and top was a red check. We also sold ¼ and ½ pts of double cream in plastic cartons and bottle of orange pop in milk bottles with foil tops. (The Northern dairy milkmen who were our competition sold milk, cream, bread, potatoes and allsorts, even tights I think.)

    I can remember the ‘tea call’ which were on most rounds where about half way round the round we would park the float on the road outside the house and both go for a cup of tea in (Mrs Pitchforks I think was her name) a very nice ladies home for 15 or 20 minutes and then come out and continue the round. Thinking about it now I can’t remember the floats having keys to take out the ignition or locking the cab doors but the float was never taken or any milk missing off the back. Wouldn’t think you could do that nowadays. If the batteries or chargers were giving problems (which was quite frequent sometimes) they would sometimes start running out of juice and the float would only travel at below walking pace (pedestrians would overtake you) on the way back to the dairy and sometimes run out altogether and the garage would bring a diesel lorry to tow you back.

    I can remember the winter, especially at 5 or 6 in the morning. I would wear mittens to try and keep the hands warm because you couldn’t put a finger in each empty bottle if you wore gloves because you sometimes needed to carry 5 empty bottles per hand. It was really cold on the hands in winter with cold milk in the full bottles and frost covered empty bottles. I think the garage used to fit chains on the float wheels as well if I remember right to get additional grip.

    The floats had a maximum speed plate in the cab – 25 or 30mph if I remember right but most of the time that wasn’t a problem. Motorists used to hate to get behind us on a hill travelling to and from the rounds. I once went down Old Mill Lane travelling to wudhus fully loaded, foot to the floor ignoring the max speed plate and hearing and feeling a big bang and when I pulled over seeing all bits of cogs etc out the gearbox spread out on the road right up the hill. I thought Alf Meadows would sack me but I got away with it.

    ‘Mis calls’ was where a customer would phone the dairy to complain of a missed or incorrect delivery and if they phoned before you had gone home you would have to go back to the customer in your own time before you could finish. Alf had a coop Morris minor van which if you were lucky he would borrow you to nip back with or a diesel lorry cos the floats were all flat after doing the rounds. If I remember right Alf drove a newish Volkswagen beetle and lived up Harrop White Rd.

    ‘Breakages’ were bought back to the dairy to claim a refund. You ode milkmen will remember breaking an empty bottle or 2 now and again and putting a bit of milk in em
    Bob – the disco man – was a relief man covering days off some of the time I think and I think he had a customised minivan with metallic paint and a big music system. Dave ‘Price’ I think was our relief driver some of the time. Joe Childs had a 2man wudhos round and lived in a small holding on old mill ln and drove a Vauxhall viva estate. Eddie Raughton had a one man round down Park Hall Wudhus. Malc Gee had the Bullfarm round, lived on Woodland Drive and drunk in the Oak Tree

    By John (19/11/2018)
  • Yes this was a brilliant  place to work can remember all these names and many more such a big turnover of staff.  Chris Widdowson

    By anne widdowson (07/05/2017)
  • I have recently come across this website it brings back all the good memories. When I was on the bulk with Trevor Price on the Derbyshire run there was ski many a time we stopped at me Mums house at Bull Farm for breakfast. We also did the Newark and Langwith depots I remember Mick Bailey,  Pete Wooley and many more, Tony Naylor, Harry Hall, Chris Wiidowson those were the days

    By kevin wood (19/02/2017)
  • Ken Blood used to have the horse drawn milk cart in Mansfield Woodhouse..the horse was Thomas.. Ken’s father Reg used to have the round before him. 

    By Sally Curtis (14/11/2016)
  • Dennis, would be great if you put the photographs on this page. Its been a lot of years since we worked together, do you still have that green Hillman Hunter?

    By Paul Robinson (12/07/2016)
  • Don’t know why but I just typed in CO-OP Dairy and up this popped. My word I can remember many of these names. Does anyone read this page anymore? I have some photos of the dairy staff, David, in the plant where the milk was bottled, several of the girls in the office, Sylvia, young David, I think her name was Pamela, Mrs Sheldon  and Lab (upstairs). Here is a few more names for the list. Henry Moult, Dennis Hoolly, Pete Sims, Harold Lamb, Mrs Walker the Manager, Tony Jackson, Alf Meadows lady friend Miss Divit?? Big Trev (Bulk Lorry) John Mcmurdo, Johnny Jones. Did anyone go swimming with co-op club, I think it was on a Monday night? anyone answer and I will post the photos. I can put a few stories up here. Alf Meadows was quiet funny when you got to know him. Derek Lacey was a great chap I was always amazed how Derek could do the @ sign perfect every time. 

    By Dennis Bagley (15/04/2016)
  • I worked at Southwell Road Dairy and Quarry Lane. l remember Alf Meadows and Derek Lacey, every liked Derek. I sometimes nipped him home to Blidworth. l remember Stuart Fell and his wife Sylvia who worked in the office with Sue, also Thorpy, Malc Gee.W e were all sat outside the dairy at 9am, finished rounds and waiting for office to open.

    By john yorke (11/02/2016)
  • Hey up Tom, yes it was Mr Blood with the horse and cart being brought up on Leeming Lane South used to see Ken and his horse delivering milk daily, can’t remember the name of the horse but knew were to stop when Ken dropped the pint(s) of milk to the door. Fond memories  of “Woodus ” life.Who would do such a job today? Happy days.




    By g.t.burton former Woodus lad (10/01/2016)
  • I worked the rounds in the late 60s early 70s with Phil Davis on the Chesterfield Road round. Happy memories sadly missed I got up early every morning and I can honestly say that I enjoyed going to work it was such a happy team never a sad face anywhere, even in the rain and snow we would be laughing and singing our way round. I left to enlist in the forces so lost contact with a lot of guys especially Phil he left just after and worked in Securicor on Anglia Way but lost contact. If anyone knows Phil or what happened to him and is family I would be pleased to hear

    By Mike Wilson (11/07/2015)
  • I worked there for about a year back in the mid 70’s, got the sack(but we won’t go into that lol). Remember Alf Meadows, he had one name for everyone ‘shitpot’. I had a 2 man Ravenshead round with Daz Thorpe and I also was a DJ for Bob Abrahall who owned Secret Formula/Rainbow Roadshow mobile disco. He had the one man Ravenshead round. i really loved the time I was there, some great lads and there was a saying, that it wasn’t a job but a way of life. Unfortunately my way of life didn’t match the jobs way of life. Early mornings and Alf Meadows bellowing down the dock at 5am. But respect to Alf, you new were you stood with him and nowadays we miss gaffers like him.

    By John Allcock (09/01/2015)
  • John!! The Milkman with Horse and Cart could be Mr Blood, he lived on the corner of Leeming Lane and Kingsley Avenue. On a Sunday morning in the 70s a car was in collision with his Horse and Cart injuring his son Ken near the Trough!! Ken passed away last year!!

    By Tom Shead (09/01/2015)
  • Some of the dairy staff from the 70’s brought some fond memories.

    I remember somebody with the surname Gee doing Bullfarm but funnily can’t seem to remember his christian name. Then there was Joe Childs and somebody called Eddie if I remember right doing the 2 Woodhouse rounds.

    Does anybody remember the name of a milkman in the 70’s delivering in Woodhouse with a horse and cart. Dont know where he got his milk from but I dont think it was the co-op but it could have been northern dairies.

    Happy memories

    By John (31/12/2014)
  • I had a job here during one summer holiday school break, 1971 I think. Alf had me working many different rounds, Bull Farm and Berry Hill for sure, and as a mate on the bulk deliveries to Sutton. Always an early start but never boring. I remember well taking the float off charge and reversing up to the dock to load – good job those docks had strong wooden side protectors. The bottled milk would be stacked on the dock maybe 5 crates high (how many bottles in a crate? 20?). We had an ‘S’ shaped hook that went into the bottom crate and with a hand on the top one all it took was a graceful pirouette spin to send the stack of crates sliding off the dock and down the deck of the float – often helped by fresh milk splashed down to help smooth the slide. Most of the customers paid for their milk – small plastic milk tokens or ‘checks’ bought from their Co-op shops, different colour for pasteurised or ‘sterra’ or whatever. Sterilised milk was always in a thin necked bottle with a crown top like a beer bottle. It’s all coming back as I write this. A very happy holiday.

    By Stuart Fennell (30/03/2014)
  • I fondly remember this building from a visit I made as a young pupil of, I think, High Oakham School (prior to that I was at Titchfield Park but can’t imagine such a long walk at such an early age). It must have been late Autumn/early Winter as we walked to it from the school with teachers diligently and urgently herding us along like Mother Duck and I particularly remember kicking piles of leaves that had gathered upon the short raised section of walkway along Berry Hill Lane. Strange how some things, however seemingly insignificant, seem to stick in your mind so vividly… the sound and smell of the damp, russet coloured leaves, the semi-circular glass dominated frontage of the building and the smell of disinfectant and echoing of footsteps on steps inside as we progressed up them. Does anyone know if there was a laboratory there? I remember nothing of any bottling or “factory floor” type surrounding but distinctly recall a lab and testimony to the power of a child’s imagination I could have sworn I heard a cow moo and was convinced they were on the premises somewhere! Happy days…

    By Bob (23/02/2014)
  • I worked there from leaving school in 1974 as a drivers mate working with Ray Wroughton on the Blidworth round. I remember Derek Lacey always singing and whistling. I left for a year then eventually went back to work on the bottling plant until the place closed. What a shame that was. I’d go back tomorrow. Fond memories of many people there, too many to mention.

    By Derek Harrison (02/04/2013)
  • I worked there in the 70’s and remember Mr Meadows and Mr Lacey! My drivers over the years were Colin Grice, Denis Baggley, and Willis (thrasher) Harris

    By Paul Robinson (27/05/2012)
  • Well guess what l’m the oldest son of Derek Lacey, he loved working at the dairy and he took me for my first driving lesson - in the dairy, nearly smashed the place up…. If anyone knew my dad I would be glad to hear about the stories, as my Dad was a well liked person.

    Regards Paul Lacey Sydney Australia

    By paul lacey (26/04/2012)
  • I have great memories of my time as a milkman I drove one of the commer walk through floats what great days are there any more pictures ? Life was better back then!

    By Terry smith (07/04/2012)
  • Alf Meadows was in charge of the rounds when I worked there for 7 years in the 70’s. Derek Lacey was in charge of the ‘bulk’ section, supplying private retailers in Derbyshire. One of the better supervisors I’ve ever worked under. Who could forget Dora in the canteen. I had a good experience with my time there working with Mick Bailer (worksop) Trevor Price (Derbyshire) Harry Hall, Chris O’niel, Tony (moses) Nailer, Chris Widdowson, Frankie Lyons, and others. Fond memories of them all and a beautiful collection of office staff!

    By Pete ( Ski ) (14/02/2012)
  • Great comments john I to remember the milk wagons bein parked at the Victoria Street, Garage bein a transport driver in the 70’s delevering Grocery Goods from the Grocery Warehouse, and even in those days we had a Coal Dept; within the same yard, by how time has flown and services are just a memories, and Tesco, Asda, etc think it’s new delivering grocery goods today !! Co-op did it years ago how times have changed

    By g.t.burton(former woodus lad) (04/01/2012)
  • Having worked there in the late 60’s early 70’s I can remember the building well. The entrance in the picture was on the Rainworth side and also had another identical entrance which mirrored this one approx 300m away on the Mansfield side. This was too allow milk floats loaded for delivery to leave the site and the other entrance was for the empty lorries & floats to return to the empties side to be unloaded. For milk rounds in the Mansfield and Woodhouse areas the milk was delivered on electric floats while for the outlying areas diesel lorries were used but these were stored at the Coop Garage on Victoria St overnight while the floats were charged overnight in the loading & unloading bays overnight.The milk was bottled in the bottling plant where the domed roof sections are. The milk from the farms was brought to the bottling plant by tanker and I believe churns as well, by lorry. Bottled milk was also delivered to Sutton and Worksop dairy I believe as well as other nearbye depots and dairies by large bulk lorries. The building protruding from the front with all the windows was where the managers and training teams worked. I also remember the forman Alf ? who wore a brown smock & was one of the old no nonsense foremen.

    By John (25/12/2011)

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