A milkman who started his round aged just four has retired bringing an end to a family business which has seen two generations deliver over ten million pints.
Alan Bryant, 60, joined dad Denis on the round as a four-year-old and has delivered the white stuff for 56 years – including one customer who dates back to his first day in 1954.
He was paid sixpence-a-day to ride on the back of the float dropping off milk and picking up empties.
But Alan has seen the industry change dramatically over the years and, in face of stiff competition from supermarkets, felt ”the time is right” to stand down.
He said: ”To the best of my knowledge, I am the last independent milkman in Bristol.
”There are lots of milk rounds still out there, run by big companies like Dairy Crest, but it’s rather sad to be the last independent milkie.
”I’ve always enjoyed the job. People think it’s a lonely life, but far from it. Mine is a very sociable round.
”Many of my customers are getting on in years, and they like me to ring the doorbell and have a chat each morning, rather than just leaving the bottles on the doorstep.
”Customers have never left me. They’ve passed away or moved out of the area, but they’ve never cancelled their orders because of changing lifestyles. They’ve been incredibly loyal.
”Even so, the world has changed – 30 years ago I was delivering to 600 customers each day, but now I only have half that on my books. But I hope the tradition of milk deliveries is somehow able to survive.
”People are increasingly going over to the idea of supermarkets delivering their food, so why not sign up to having milk delivered once again?
”Not only is it much more convenient than having to buy it from the shops – it’s a wonderful part of the British way of life.
”So many of the things that were taken for granted back in the 1950s have simply disappeared – the road sweeper, the vegetable delivery man, and the bread man.
”I do hope the humble milkman won’t go the same way.”
Alan’s grandfather Fred opened a dairy farm when he moved to Bristol from Siston, South Glos., in 1933.
He started delivering to neighbours after they pleaded with him to bottle and sell his milk and by the outbreak of WW2 had his own float.
Alan’s father Denis later took the reigns and employed him aged just four to carry the bottles to and from the float.
He helped out before school and during his school lunch breaks and at 15 left secondary school to work out full-time.
Alan and Denis spent the next 20 years working together until his father, who has since tragically died of a stroke, retired in 1986.
He added: ”Dad used to carry his Home Guard helmet and rifle with him on his rounds, just in case.
”It would take about half an hour each morning before school, and we were paid six pence a day – so we were happy to help.
”In the school dinner break, I would meet dad in Church Avenue, Warmley, and help deliver milk there, before eating my lunch and heading back to school.
”I still deliver milk to the same houses today – and in one house, the same lady is still there 56 years later.
”It was a very emotional moment when I knocked on her door to tell her I had decided to retire after all these years.
”She can remember me putting the bottles down when I was a child, and now here I am preparing for retirement.
”These people are much more than customers to me – they’re good friends, and they have all been incredibly loyal over the years.”
And Alan said he is looking forward to well-earned lie in.
He said: ”It will be hard to leave it behind – you can’t imagine how long I’ll keep waking up at 4.30am after I’ve finished. But I think the time is right.”
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