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An electric milk float in Liverpool city centre, June 2005
A horse-drawn milk float in Ryeburne Street, Oldham, England, in 1978
Horse-drawn milk float, c. 1904, with dropped axle
A Dairy Crest Smith's Elizabethan milk float
A Dairy Crest Ford Transit based milk float
A Dairy Crest ex-Unigate Wales & Edwards Rangemaster milk float.

In British English, a milk float is a vehicle specifically designed for the delivery of fresh milk. Today, milk floats are usually battery electric vehicles (BEV), but they were formerly horse-drawn. They were once common in many European countries, particularly the United Kingdom, and were operated by local dairies. However, in recent years, as the number of supermarkets, small independent grocers and petrol stations stocking fresh milk has increased, most people have switched from regular home delivery to obtaining fresh milk from these other sources.

Characteristics[edit]

Because of the relatively small power output from its electric motor, a milk float travels fairly slowly, usually around 10 to 16 miles per hour (16 to 26 km/h) although some have been modified to do up to 80 mph (130 km/h).[1] Operators often exit their vehicle before they have completely stopped to speed up deliveries; milk floats generally have sliding doors that can be left open when moving, or may have no doors at all. Electric milk floats come in three wheel and four wheel versions, the latter normally larger. They are very quiet, suiting operations in residential areas during the early hours of the morning or during the night.

Most electric milk floats do not have seat belts, and the law in the United Kingdom only requires wearing seat belts where these are fitted in the vehicle. While there was previously an exemption in the law meaning those making local deliveries were not required to wear a seat belt, which would in theory have included drivers and passengers in milk floats with seat belts fitted, the law was changed in 2005 to deliveries less than 50 metres (160 ft) apart.[2]

Statistics[edit]

In August 1967 the UK Electric Vehicle Association put out a press release stating that Britain had more battery-electric vehicles on its roads than the rest of the world put together[3] It is not clear what research the association had undertaken into the electric vehicle populations of other countries, but closer inspection disclosed that almost all of the battery driven vehicles licensed for UK road use were milk floats.[3]

Glasgow has one of the largest working milk float fleets in the UK. Most of the vehicles operate from the Grandtully Depot in Kelvindale. Some dairies in the UK, including Dairy Crest, have had to modernise and have replaced their electric milk floats with petrol or diesel fuel-powered vehicles to speed up deliveries and thus increase profit.

Manufacturers[edit]

Manufacturers of milk floats in Britain in the 20th century included Morrison-Electricar, Smith's, Wales & Edwards, Osborne, Harbilt, Brush, Bedford and British Leyland. In 1941 Morrison-Electricar standardised three types of body which would become the basis for thousands of milk floats built after the war to deliver goods to the recovering population.[4] As of 2009, only Bluebird Automotive[5] remain in the industry.

During 2012, Bluebird Automotive will be launching a new generation of milk float. Called the BE-1, it is a city delivery vehicle with a 1.7 metric tonne payload. It incorporates battery swapping so that flat batteries can be replaced with fully charged batteries at a depot in around four minutes.

Alternatives[edit]

Before BEVs, dairy supplies were delivered using horse-drawn milk floats. This lasted from the late 19th century until the 1950s.[6] Today, with rounds expanding in coverage to ensure profitability in the face of falling levels of patronage, the limited range and speed of electric milk floats have resulted in many being replaced by diesel-powered converted vans.

Preservation[edit]

A collection of milk floats and other BEVs is kept by the Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Trust at their museum, and in addition several milk floats are still in service today, albeit repurposed after their milk delivery days. Many are used for work in factories, or as pleasure vehicles in rural areas, and some are hired out to make money for film, pr and events.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Electron E150". Bluebird Automotive. Archived from the original on 12 December 2008. Retrieved 2010-11-27. 
  2. ^ "Seat Belt Law". needasolicitor.com. Retrieved 22 March 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "News and Views: Britain's Electric Vehicles". Autocar. 127 nbr 3729: page 55. 3 August 1967. 
  4. ^ "History of Milk Floats". Retrieved 2012-04-23. 
  5. ^ "Bluebird Automotive Milk Floats". Retrieved 2012-02-01. 
  6. ^ "Commercial vehicles: As it was in the beginning". National Transport Museum of Ireland. 

External links[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milk_float — Please support Wikipedia.
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37 news items

London Theatre Guide - Online

London Theatre Guide - Online
Tue, 02 Sep 2014 02:56:15 -0700

Things aren't going to plan for this particular family - pieces are falling off Martin's ailing milk float, Kath's cooking is becoming stranger and stranger, Billy is pinning his hopes of a place at Art College on a revealing portrait of Dolly Parton ...

Wells Journal

Wells Journal
Sun, 10 Aug 2014 02:33:22 -0700

“Those passing Parr's Bank on Saturday evening were surprised to see the windows, stonework and the pavement in front of the establishment covered in milk, the result of a horse attached to a milk float running away and colliding with the wall at this ...

Express.co.uk

Express.co.uk
Sat, 30 Aug 2014 16:03:45 -0700

... the mere hubbub of the late 1970s does to us today. Who remembers the gentle burr of a milk float at dawn; the slow, deliberate noise of letters being formed by a Dymo label-maker, or even someone saying “cheerio”? Follow Chris on Twitter ...
 
Digital Spy
Wed, 27 Aug 2014 10:06:37 -0700

Our weapon of choice was the fearsome Kia Cee'd, a truly average car with about as much acceleration as a milk float. Still, it proved to be a hugely enjoyable thing to drive. You see, most people aren't used to throwing a boring hatchback around a ...

Stoke Sentinel

Stoke Sentinel
Tue, 26 Aug 2014 23:45:00 -0700

Paul Cliff, mitigating, said Tandy was in full-time work from leaving school and suffered a serious injury below his knee when driving a milk float struck by a HGV. Mr Cliff said: "By 2008 he had learnt to manage his pain and his mobility levels increased.
 
London Loves Business
Wed, 20 Aug 2014 01:22:38 -0700

But since then, only 1,400 operational charging stations have been installed, compared to original targets of 25,000 by 2015. EV uptake has shown the acceleration of a milk float: just 1,728 cars out of the two million plus cars sold in the UK last ...
 
Frome Standard
Sat, 09 Aug 2014 01:26:15 -0700

FROME milkman 21-year-old Martin Andrews, is more accustomed to driving a milk float around the town than a 53-seater single-decker coach, but from this week he can do both. Martin, of Trudoxhill passed his coach driver's licence and will follow in his ...
 
Queensland Country Life
Tue, 05 Aug 2014 17:49:43 -0700

TASMANIAN baby food maker Bellamy's Australia - which is targeting the booming demand in Asia for dairy infant formula - has been embraced by investors, jumping more than 30 per cent on its sharemarket debut. The company, formerly Tasmanian Pure ...
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