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Milk how was it transported around Ireland in the 1940's to 1960's?

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Colin R
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Hi all

Here is a question from a friend of mine, he is proposing to build a freelanced Irish narrow gauge line based around the Cavan and Leitrim area, what he would like to know is if any narrow gauge (or any gauge for that matter) railway transport milk in churns or did it all go by road in a tanker to a dairy for processing and distribution to local towns and cities?

If anyone has the full story about how milk was transported around Ireland at any time this would be most welcome.

Colin R

Edited by Colin R
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  • Colin R changed the title to Milk how was it transported around Ireland in the 1940's to 1960's?

Cavan and Leitrim had a ‘milk brake van’ 2L. Alphagraphix do a kit. Creameries tended to be local cooperative affairs in Ireland so raw milk didn’t tend to travel too far I think. Nothing like the milk trains supplying London’s lactate needs...PS ....the map here will show how close some of the creameries were to one another. It’s not a map of every facility , just those that were torched in 1920-21....

https://www.google.co.uk/amp/s/amp.rte.ie/amp/1137689/.

Edited by Galteemore
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29 minutes ago, Colin R said:

Hi all

Here is a question from a friend of mine, he is proposing to build a freelanced Irish narrow gauge line based around the Cavan and Leitrim area, what he would like to know is if any narrow gauge (or any gauge for that matter) railway transport milk in churns or did it all go by road in a tanker to a dairy for processing and distribution to local towns and cities?

If anyone has the full story about how milk was transported around Ireland at any time this would be most welcome.

Colin R

Hi Colin

In the days when narrow gauge railways were operating, in all reality milke was taken about the place by donkey and cart (there's a pic of one alongside a CDR train, and another alongside a C & L train - or for the super-sophisticated, tractor and trailer.

We didn't use milk tankers at all really - certainly not by rail at all, and by road not until the mid 1960s.

Almost all Irish milk was used in local creameries. We didn't ever have bulk traffic - what did travel was in churns in ordinary wagons.

For your friend's layout, especially if its based in the area you mention, the predominant goods traffic would be bags of grain, bags of cement, animal feed, SOME churns of milk in a van or open wagon, live cattle and general goods (.e. cardboard boxes of washing powder or liught machinery).

Virtually all goods traffic was carried in covered vans, bar of course the cattle; but even some of these beasts were carried in ordinary goods vans with a removable centre section of roof for ventilation - the famous Irish "convertible van" or "soft-top", as the railwaymen called them due to the central opening being covered by a canvas covering when the wagon was being used for goods instead of cattle.

Some "soft-tops" were still running in the very early 1960s, and the C & L had them to the end.

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As a follow-up, I checked out Michael Hamilton’s SLNC memoirs which include a highly detailed account of every major freight flow through Dromahair in the late 40s - which was a fairly typical rural station in many ways. The only mention of dairy produce was the import of new  ‘creamery cans’ (which IIRC is the Irish for ‘churn’ ) for farmers to use. He makes no other mention of milk as a traffic source, apart from occasional imports of ice cream from Sligo. Eggs for export, on the other hand, feature large. The biggest freight flow of all into Dromahair, however, was alcohol....

Edited by Galteemore
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The late Billy Lohan told me a story about a time he was sent up to Sligo with a light engine and guard's van to collect a rake of empty cattle trucks to take to Ennis for a cattle fair the following day. Since it was a special train, it would have been in the weekly circular but not the WTT. It's probably about 1940-42.

They got to a level crossing near Gort, and he had a Midland 0.6.0, a J18. The brakes weren't the best. Health, safety, day-glo clothing and  "safety cases" were a future fantasy. Billy's disdain for anything MGWR was matched by his admiration for all things Inchicore, as he was most definitely a "Southern man". He had been complaining all day about being given a J18 - he didn't like driving from the "wrong" side compared to a "proper southern" J15!

The gates were across the line. Billy whistled furiously and cursed the gatekeeper....no sign of her. Gates across the track. He slowed the train to a crawl, still whistling like mad.

The locomotive was now down to a walking pace, but still not stopped. The gatekeeper's hens were all over the place - as a completely separate issue, they had escaped from their pen.

As the loco crawled uncontrollably towards the gates, at about the same time the elderly J18 hit the gate a hearty CRACK and smashed it in two, the gatekeeper came running round the side of the cottage in her apron and slippers, shouting "Ah, me hins! Me hins! Me HINS!!""............

Billy went ballistic and replied to her in terms that would have made the "hins" blush......he was an absolute stickler for doing things the correct way, absolutely by the book. To say that Billy had a dim view of a gatekeeper putting the welfare of her hens above that of having the gates set properly would be an understatement!

A great guy, lived to be 103. I have recordings of him, having had the great privilege of interviewing him several times.

Your tale of chicks reminded me of that - sorry to wander off-topic.........

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14 hours ago, Galteemore said:

As a follow-up, I checked out Michael Hamilton’s SLNC memoirs which include a highly detailed account of every major freight flow through Dromahair in the late 40s - which was a fairly typical rural station in many ways. The only mention of dairy produce was the import of new  ‘creamery cans’ (which IIRC is the Irish for ‘churn’ ) for farmers to use. He makes no other mention of milk as a traffic source, apart from occasional imports of ice cream from Sligo. Eggs for export, on the other hand, feature large. The biggest freight flow of all into Dromahair, however, was alcohol....

"Can" I would assume is a low capacity milk container with a carry handle for a few gals of the stuff. A bit bigger than a Billy can.

Churn is a commonplace term.

I tried to find out what a milk "butt" was. Don't Google it, just. Don't.

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Too late I already knew what that meant, just don't ask how I know as I found out from a Nurse I had been working with in A&E the night before, trouble is now I have that vision back in my head again.

As this is a family forum I will leave it at that, however it did get me into a fit of giggles which when the subject comes ups starts me off again😂 😂 😂

Colin R

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4 hours ago, Kelvin White said:

Colin asked the question on my behalf, I’ve only just joined this forum. It was my presumption that milk in churns was not carried. Does anybody know if milk in churns was carried on the Isle of Man 3ft gauge lines.

best regards

stay safe, stay sane

Yes, the Isle of Man Railway carried it in churns too. Like Ireland, never had any milk tankers.

I think they used open wagons for them, stuck on the back of passenger trains, as dedicated goods trains in the IOM were almost unheard of.

 

 

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Some receptacles await loading at Rosses Point.....interestingly the official web page for Manorhamilton’s creamery points out that it moved from Lurganboy to its current site to be close to the railway. Although it’s actually in the middle of the town and nowhere convenient for the station !

Dromahair’s creamery was slap beside the SLNC out at Cleen, but was not apparently a source of traffic. The buildings still stand - and I think the trackbed is just behind if Google maps and my memory are to be trusted. My mother tells me that the milk from her farm was collected and taken here - effectively bartered for flour and meal. Just in across the road is this fantastic classically N Leitrim shop....locals would run up bills in shops like this for months on end in the 50s, accounts to be paid off when cattle were sold. Thanks for starting this thread - helps develop the social history side !

75138BFB-43E7-4B4B-B5BA-9CD12ED42E01.jpeg

88898EB0-DDC5-41EB-A450-A237BFEBF680.jpeg

07FEC462-F55C-4FA5-850A-A1B24620D7D2.jpeg

41C453E1-0549-4E2B-B5C2-720DCADCFDC4.jpeg

E7E9B0B8-30C3-4629-B801-E0E0F506867E.jpeg

Edited by Galteemore
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In the 1980s, when in my line of business I was sent on relief to various country towns, even as late as that nothing much had changed!

I recall a man who swopped lambs in late winter for a "tab" in the local grocery shop in a small south Armagh town........... (dark side being that aged 90, he was almost beaten to death by scum-filth who decided to rob a defenceless old man of about £25 in a remote hillside farm..... poor oul John had no family...). But that's a separate story.

Edited by jhb171achill
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I remember the late lamented Drew Donaldson after a derailment on his famous "0" gauge line, involving cattle trucks, say quietly  (unusual when something didn't go right) - 

"All still standing, Thank God"............

Actually, thinking about it, he may have uttered it in Irish first and then translated for we Northern Peasants?

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On 3/12/2020 at 4:35 PM, Galteemore said:

Some receptacles await loading at Rosses Point.....interestingly the official web page for Manorhamilton’s creamery points out that it moved from Lurganboy to its current site to be close to the railway. Although it’s actually in the middle of the town and nowhere convenient for the station !

Dromahair’s creamery was slap beside the SLNC out at Cleen, but was not apparently a source of traffic. The buildings still stand - and I think the trackbed is just behind if Google maps and my memory are to be trusted. My mother tells me that the milk from her farm was collected and taken here - effectively bartered for flour and meal. Just in across the road is this fantastic classically N Leitrim shop....locals would run up bills in shops like this for months on end in the 50s, accounts to be paid off when cattle were sold. Thanks for starting this thread - helps develop the social history side !

75138BFB-43E7-4B4B-B5BA-9CD12ED42E01.jpeg

88898EB0-DDC5-41EB-A450-A237BFEBF680.jpeg

07FEC462-F55C-4FA5-850A-A1B24620D7D2.jpeg

41C453E1-0549-4E2B-B5C2-720DCADCFDC4.jpeg

E7E9B0B8-30C3-4629-B801-E0E0F506867E.jpeg

Galteemore can you send me the website link please, I did have these photos years ago but I lost them, I had plans to build the Parke building at one stage for the 00n3 layout, if it is the same website there was a fantasic looking creamary on there as well, but can I recall how I found them? no I can't.

 

Colin R

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