Thank you to Bob Cowe who wrote:
Leith Provident Milk
"I first started milk
delivery at the Henderson Street Branch
in 1955 when I was 12 years old. Iím sure
you had to be 13, but I stayed just around the corner in Speirs
Place, and my Mother, who like all the locals knew the Boss, got me a
It was pretty hard work for a laddie, 6
mornings a week and Saturday afternoon to make up for Sunday. I recall
that my Saturday was curtailed because of this. I
was always envious of my pals who could go off and play while I had to
I canít recall what the wage was but it must
have been OK as I stayed in the job until I was 16. I
worked full time as the Grocery message laddie from age 15, and at this
time also worked behind the counter in the Bakery shop starting at 6 am
'till 7 am and then on with the milk delivery. I
must have been fit!"
"I started off with biggest and longest
delivery in the branch. Maybe
thatís why the Boss was so keen to take me on. The delivery was made using
a large wooden barrow mounted on two metal shod, cart-type
wheels, which carried four crates containing approx. eighty pints, but
instead of a horse between the shafts there was a wee boy.
A feature of the barrow was a bracket fixed on
the right hand side which, in the Winter months, carried a candle-lit
lamp, showing white to the front and red to the rear. This also came in
handy for lighting the way up a dark tenement stair."
The Long Route
"Manyís the time I had to ask a Docker on his
way to work for a shove after I was loaded up. Then it was off, past the
Dumfriesshire Dairy on the corner, past Joe Muirs Paper shop on the right
then left at Jack Haynes Bike Shop into Giles Street. At this time, Giles
Street ran straight through to the Coppy Buildings with Wingy Robertsons
scrap yard on the left.
A right turn here took me down Parliament
Square, or The Broad Pavement as it was better known, to Parliament Street
where one of my deliveries was to the Lodging House which is still in
operation today. Across Henderson Street
to St Andrews Street past the Mission Hall (Band Of Hope) arriving at a
small street on the left whose name escapes me.
On again to Market Street on the left and up
to Tollbooth Wynd, no deliveries here but I
turned right towards the Kirkgate. Next,
Water Street and Charlotte Street then down the Kirkgate in the direction
of Leith Walk. A few deliveries here then into Storries Alley,
back up the Kirkgate, up Brickwork Close, no deliveries here either, then
back to Henderson Street."
No wonder the position was free!
The Short Route
"I soon decided that this was not for me and
told the Boss I was leaving. Fortunately
another run became vacant and I took that on. It
was the easiest run with only Brickwork Close and the top part of the
Kirkgate, A doddle with a smaller barrow and approx. forty pints."
Checking Out and In
"I can still remember Victor and Bert who
checked us out and in, and gave us a rocket if we were short on the
empties. How things change!"
Bob Cowe, Leith, Edinburgh: July 13, 2008