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Doorstep milk deliveries drying up in Cheltenham

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: December 14, 2012

'HEAVY HEART' Dave Hulbert and Nigel Finch, of Woodlands Farm in Chedworth

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DOOR-TO-DOOR milk deliveries in Cheltenham have come a step closer to dying out.

It follows the decision of Woodlands Farm in Chedworth to stop its service this year, which it has been running since the late Cecil Finch started it in 1928.

His son, Nigel, has told his 188 customers in Cheltenham that his company will cease delivering from December 29.

And that, he said, would leave Cotteswold Dairy as the only firm still offering a doorstep delivery service in the town.

Mr Finch told his customers: "It is with a very heavy heart that I am writing this Christmas letter as we have finally had to make the decision to cease our door to door deliveries on the 29th of December.

"Even with our increasing the price to you, we have continued to lose money over the past year and we realise that cost is vital to you.

"Clearly, you can buy much cheaper milk elsewhere, though, I venture to add, not as assured a product.

"We are desperately sorry. You have been such long and loyal customers and we feel we are letting you down."

Mr Finch told the Echo: "It was a very sad decision we had to make but we lost money over the last 12 months and possibly longer. One just can't afford to do it any more."

He said the company was unable to compete with the supermarkets in terms of price, thought he argued that Woodlands Farm's milk was of a better quality as it had total control over its production.

He added he definitely felt the door-to-door delivery of milk was dying out in Gloucestershire but stressed that his company would still produce just as much milk once it had finished that service.

He said much of it would go to a dairy in London and some would still be sold at his farm shop, along with other dairy products such as yoghurt.

One Woodlands Farm customer for 26 years, Zena Giles, said she thought the end of the delivery service was "really sad news".

She said: "Their service has always been fantastic and they've got through in all weathers.

"The milk has always been fantastic quality and the newsletters we got over the years were always informative and with a bit of fun in them too.

"I made a conscious decision to continue having a doorstep delivery many years ago, regardless of the fact I could buy milk cheaper and by the bucket load at the supermarkets.

"I believe strongly that it's a vital service for so many older people and we should keep it going.

"While I will still be able to pop out of my front door to pick up my pint, courtesy of Cotteswold Dairy, I will be very, very sad to say goodbye to the fabulous team at Woodlands."

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  • amy86  |  December 16 2012, 10:07AM

    My father in law has been a milkman for cotteswold dairy for over 40 years, its so sad that the trade is declining, but its because they cant compete with the supermarket pricing. I cant think of a solution where dairies could realistically compete with supermarkets anymore which is such a shame; another grand tradition on its way out :(

  • Walker100  |  December 16 2012, 9:47AM

    Bonkin, F R Price are still delivering around Quedgeley.

  • Bonkim2003  |  December 16 2012, 7:52AM

    Chedworth Farm Shop - yes wages have shot up and home delivered milk in bottles would be prohibitive - even 12 years back when we had home delivery in Quedgeley the price differential with Tesco was significant - doubt if a roundsman can make much and people prepared to pay over the odds. The rules regards not reusing bottles and hygiene also affects honey, jams, etc, putting paid to the 're-use' component in recycling. Scrap bottles cost £5 to £20/tonne but costs £150 or more to collect - making the recycling game a charade.

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  • lowcadillac  |  December 15 2012, 11:59PM

    As the 'Woodlands Farm Milkman' through the 90's it' a great shame to hear of the service coming to an end.Production and transport costs along with the ever increasing supermarkets and their own delivery services seem to have led to the demise of milk deliveries i think.

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  • bonzaharris1  |  December 15 2012, 11:14PM

    They still do glass bottles Bonkim, my Mum has her milk delivered, and they are still delivered in the same glass bottles we all remember. Mind you how long for I don't know, just recently some piece of lowlife scum has been stealing her milk from her doorstep. After speaking to her milkman, and finding out quite a few of his customers were having the same problem, who knows how long his round will exist for. If it continues, then his customers will just cancel their orders, and he will be out of a job. He did catch the thief in the act, called the police and the thief was left off with a warning. My Mum is still having her milk stolen, so fat lot of good that did. Pity really, because my Mum is 86, and I expect a lot of his customers are elderly, last thing they need on an icy morning is no milk, and have to trudge to the shops to get some.

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  • suckitup  |  December 15 2012, 8:37PM

    you can still get glass bottles Cotteswold dairy do them ****gonised, non ****gonised, channel island and organic

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  • Chedworth Farm Shop  |  December 15 2012, 12:59PM

    Bonkim, glass bottles were stopped as the cost to collect and sterilise in order to be acceptable to new H&S standards was so ridiculously high. They have now bought out regulation saying they can no longer be re-used at all. Geraint, the milk from Woodlands Farm was non-homogenised and so DID have the cream layer on the top. You'd be amazed at the amount of people who would complain about it though...

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  • NibNobs  |  December 15 2012, 9:05AM

    Another retail industry killed off by the huge ever growing supermarket chains, and not forgetting us, the public that go there for everything thesedays.

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  • Walker100  |  December 15 2012, 8:43AM

    It is another blow to tradition in this country. I remember we used to have three floats around our estate when I was a lad, topped to the gunnels with milk. Everyone used to have their milk delivered. There was also the Bread man, the Fish man, the Corona man, the mobile shop and the fruit and veg man. You hardly had to go to the shop!

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  • thomas1996  |  December 15 2012, 8:41AM

    It's a shame, I can remember when we had a bread van man call round, a fizzy drinks van call round, and a mobile butcher call round - but these days of everyone being out of work and when you can get milk and ALL your groceries delivered in ONE single delivery and at a time you choose easily on-line by tesco, asda, sainsbury's and waitrose and no-one collecting the cash at the end of the week - then no wonder people have 'moved on'

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