English Milk Bottle Collection in the News

Note: Apparently this collector now holds the Guiness World Record for World's Largest Milk Bottle Collection -- any American collectors out there that can beat this?!!!
BOTTLE BANK: Paul Luke in his 'milk museum'.  Picture by Martin Dalton
BOTTLE BANK: Paul Luke in his 'milk museum'. Picture by Martin Dalton
YOU would think a shed full of milk bottles and other 'dairyana' would be enough for Paul Luke. In fact, the 32-year-old sales rep has 10,000 bottles at the bottom of his garden - not to mention milkmen's uniforms, caps, badges and other 'go-withs', as collectors say.

But the man whose hobby is to collect all things to do with milk is after more.
Paul is interested in the history of private dairies - most of which no longer exist - and is hoping anyone with memories or souvenirs of the 'old days' will contact him.
He lives in Stanford-le-Hope with wife Lisa and eight-year-old daughter, who help him edit a website devoted to collecting milk bottles and all that entails.

Paul said: "I am certainly interested in learning all I can about old Essex dairies.
"I know there was Howards, a large one in Southend, but there must be others. I would appreciate any information."

Paul started his collection when he was a boy. He used to deliver milk for local tradesmen, and became fascinated by the advertising on the bottles. "At first it was things like Kelloggs Cornflakes, then they added their own names and the advertising became more adventurous, so I started to collect them," Paul said.

To start with, he acquired the bottles that stood on his parents' kitchen sideboard and then, as the collection grew, it made its way into the bedroom he shared with is brother.
Finally, when the collection reached 600 bottles, it was evicted into a shed. Since then, it has grown like Topsy.

"The thing is, there are - or were - private dairies all over the country which produced bottles with their own names on," Paul said. "I am still on the lookout for different bottles and often travel to different parts of the country looking for more. "I keep my eye out for discoveries on holidays. It's been sad to see how the milk industry is moving from individual dairies to a virtual supermarket monopoly," he added.
Paul edits the webpage Milk Bottle News, which is read by enthusiasts up and down the country. They write about rare finds, offer swaps and organise conferences and exhibitions.
Paul, who works for a dairy company based in Hertfordshire, would like to hear from anyone with information about local dairies, past or present.

He can be contacted on 01375 679527 or by e-mail at mbneditor@blueyonder.co.uk
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