RE: JOHN Porter’s milk delivery horse laying down in the road (Letters, 2 February).

In Charlton, during the 1950s and directly opposite the Manor Road entrance, was the Andover depot of South Eastern Farmer (SEF) which no doubt had an office and was where its many flatbed milk churn collection lorries were kept. The head office for SEF was at Petersfield and the churns held ten gallons.

Before, during and for a long time after the 1950s (ending in 1979), milk was collected from farms in large, heavy galvanised churns with a sealing top. The farmers would load these full churns on platforms five feet high along roads, so the lorry driver could load them easily.

The flatbed lorries would have easily removable chains along the sides and rear to stop the churns falling off.

About 200 yards down the road, toward town from the depot and before the railway bridge, was a left turning which led to a diary processing plant called Andover Creameries Ltd.

Moving up this road there were allotments on the righthand side, probably for railway workers.

On the left-hand side was a house (still there) which was occupied by a dairy supervisor/manager and where milk could be bought out of hours in the early evening or on a Sunday morning.

Further up, on the left, was a workshop and an open shelter for maybe five electric open-sided milk delivery vehicles called floats. When the floats were in the shelter you could hear the loud humming outside coming from the battery chargers.

Sometimes these floats would run out of battery and would be towed back to base.

At the top of the hill, where Dairy Court flats are now, was the bottling plant which would fascinate us young boys. The dirty bottles would be put in a vat of boiling water, then through some brushes, before being put on a conveyor, filled with milk and the foil top pressed on.

At each of the three schools I attended in town we were given a third of a pint of delicious milk every mid-morning.

Any surplus bottles were quickly welcomed by myself.

At the London Road senior boys’ school, I was asked one day to return the empty bottles in a crate to the loading bay at the bottom of the school.

This was going well with the crate held in front of me until I reached a short corridor outside the headmaster’s office when I didn’t see a oneinch step and myself and the crate went crashing forwards to the floor.

The noise was enough to rouse the headmaster, who was Mr Roland Charlton (Chalkie), from his slumber, who quickly shot out to see what was going on. This was the only time he was concerned for my physical welfare considering all the canings he gave me.

During my three years of RAF training we would go to breakfast, fill our cereal bowl to the brim and pour milk from a large ladle held on the inside of a 10-gallon churn.

On a freezing cold morning we would have to break the ice inside with the ladle and there was nothing more refreshing on our cereals.

Derek Weeks, Martin Way, Andover.