Johnson’s Dairy, Percy Main

I used to love to go out with the carts and then take the horses to their stables

Johnson’s Dairy was in Backworth Street and the owner Albert had two sons, Raymond and Ken, who worked for him.  He had a thriving business with at least four horses and milk carts which carried large churns of milk, and people came with jugs, pans etc. and the milk was ladled into them.  Also, there were some bottles which were carried in racks down either side of the cart.  I used to love to go out with the carts and then take the horses to their stables which were alongside Percy Main Amateurs football pitch where we fed, groomed and put them in their stalls.  You had to be very careful when you went for the corn out of a large bin behind the end stall because when the horse heard rustling behind him, he thought it might be a rat and he would kick out with his hind hooves.  The bin was badly dented by this.

One hot Saturday, Mr Johnson sent me and Joe Skipsey out with a container of ice cream on a barrow to sell.  We went to the vicarage corner (now the Redburn Pub).  We sold one, then we had one ourselves.  By the time teatime came and we headed home with the container empty of approximately 2 gallons of ice cream, we had about two shillings to give to Albert.  He was not very pleased but he was a kind man and did not chastise very much.

He ran his business, it seemed very casually, as he was regularly robbed by some milkmen he employed who would collect the milk money and fiddle some or even just leave with it.  When he died, his two sons, Raymond and Ken took over and they were much more business-like and ran it for many years, until, like a lot of businesses, lost out to the supermarkets and finally stopped but they were both at retiring age so it was not a big loss to them.

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