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An electric milk float in Liverpool city centre, June 2005
A horse-drawn milk float in Montreal, Quebec, in 1942
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.


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]


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 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] remained 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.


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.


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]


  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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298320 videos foundNext > 


A trailer for PMP DVD 1702 West Midlands milk floats by Roger F De Boer.

Morrison Electric Milk Float.MOV

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Shifting a heap of stuff with the trusty electric truck. Note, as I'm not a member of Google+ I cannot respond to comments or questions.

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Electric traction. Battery-powered milk floats. Milkman makes deliveries.

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Go Green Week has started this week at the University of Worcester and one of Monday's activities includes 'pimping' the milkfloat with materials from the Worcester Resource Exchange.

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Dougal from father ted does speed in a milkfloat.

298320 videos foundNext > 

855 news items

Birmingham Mail

Birmingham Mail
Mon, 23 Mar 2015 03:41:15 -0700

A suspected thief could be set for some porridge after a stolen milk float packed with breakfast deliveries took police on a high-speed chase through Birmingham in the early hours of this morning. The fastest milk float in the West Midlands was ...


Tue, 17 Mar 2015 05:42:21 -0700

Ernie the milkman had to make do with a horse and cart but he could have been the fastest milkman in the world if he used this milk float to do his rounds. Finished in the livery of "Ed's Dairy"' this 1981 milk float is unlike any other, having ditched ...
Yorkshire Post
Sat, 28 Mar 2015 23:00:00 -0700

My first such moment is The Moment The Milk Crate Fell Off Mr Coward's Milk Float. I would have been about seven years old and I was walking down Barnsley Road with my Auntie to buy a comic. My life was happy and secure, and would be even more ...

Police Oracle

Police Oracle
Wed, 25 Mar 2015 00:10:56 -0700

A stinger had to be deployed to catch a milk float as police attempted to conclude an early morning chase that left " a trail of breakfast destruction". Officers pursued the vehicle for several miles across Birmingham City Centre before the vehicle ...

The Oxford Times

The Oxford Times
Mon, 16 Mar 2015 11:31:04 -0700

The vehicles are all white Ford Transit vans with an image of a milk float on the back and a Dairy Crest logo reading “milk and more” on the body. Our top stories. One has been recovered from Colley Wood, Kennington, but three of the vehicles are still ...


Wed, 04 Feb 2015 15:06:53 -0800

“A Lancashire dairy is milking the benefits of the award-winning Nissan e-NV200 – using the versatile all-electric van as a 21st century version of the traditional British milk float. Grimshaw Lane Dairy in Ormskirk has taken delivery of four e-NV200 ...


Tue, 03 Mar 2015 04:18:28 -0800

If you're looking for an unusual holiday this year, why not go to Craggy Island? The company Ted Tours offers trips around the locations you'll certainly recognise from Father Ted. The series wasn't actually filmed on an island but in County Clare on ...
Daily Mail
Tue, 09 Dec 2014 08:13:12 -0800

A video shows the terrifying moment a huge milk truck left the road and flew through the air after its driver lost control of the vehicle as it swerved off the tarmac. Oleg Balashov, 35, was driving in central Ukraine's Poltava Oblast region near the ...

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