In 1955, on a cold January morning, my first job began in the General office at The Midland Counties Dairy on the Penn Road in Wolverhampton.

It was a familiar building with large windows and white and blue tiled walls, with a logo above the main entrance of cows grazing. Situated in a triangle between Penn Road and Lea Road, passers by would be mesmerised by the continual clatter of glass bottles as they went around an a conveyor belt. Firstly to be inspected for cleanliness, then to be filled with milk, and finally to have bottle caps fitted.

I didn't need to apply for the job as my father, George Cartwright, had already worked there for many years, and it was almost guaranteed that if you had a relative working at M.C.D. you could be quite certain of following in their footsteps and joining the firm.

Penn Road Dairy.

I can remember quite clearly my father taking me into the Personnel Manager's office and leaving me there for my interview. Mr. Greig was the Personnel Manager, a kindly man with twinkly eyes. He welcomed me and asked about my achievements at school.

During the interview a lady came in with a trolley laden with hot milk in tall glasses, and left a glass on the desk and left the room. The glass of hot milk was pushed in front of me with the words, "drink this up Gwen, it will do you good."

Mr. Greig wasn't to know that I disliked milk, especially hot milk, and the mere smell of it almost made me heave. Feeling nervous, and not wishing to appear ungrateful, I took the smallest of sips, whilst kind Mr. Greig continued the interview and asked questions such as, what department I would like to be considered for.
Well I had always enjoyed science at school, so I expressed a wish to go into the laboratory. Mr. Greig looked directly at me and said "Gwen as you have only just left school, I suggest you start in the General office. Miss Nora Pennie is in charge of the laboratories, and she is a bit of a dragon and would most certainly eat you".

I followed his advice and was very glad that I did, as Miss Pennie was a frequent visitor to the general office and shouted at whoever she came in contact with, and the laboratory staff went in fear of her. Actually she mellowed with the years, and when I met up with her many years later, she really was a very nice lady.

Mr. J. Greig.

Mr. Greig took me along to the general office and introduced me to Mr. Brown, the manager. He was a stern man with a strong northern accent, and I knew instinctively that I would have to mind my P's and Q's with him.

However he took me over to a desk and introduced me to a girl named Wendy Jackson, who was in charge of the Ice Cream Department, and said  I would be joining her, and would she explain what I had to do. Also he informed her I had just left school, so would she be a friend to me, take me around the various departments, and show me where the Social Club was and what activities went on there, and so on.

Wendy took his words quite literally, and a friend she certainly was; not only during our working hours, but at leisure times also. From that very first day we became firm friends, and 50 years later, we still are best friends.

Over the next three years I progressed from the Ice Cream Department to Schools Milk Department, and was responsible for all the schools in the Wolverhampton, Bilston, Wednesbury, Darlaston, Dudley and West Bromwich areas, to whom Midland Counties supplied the small ⅓ pint bottles of milk, to which every child was entitled up to the age of eleven. This job also included liaising with, and charging the Education Departments for the supplies to each school.

The Dairy was a family orientated company, started by the White family, and amongst the employees you would find husband and wives, fathers with sons and daughters, cousins etc., and as I said in the beginning, any vacancies were usually advertised internally; rarely was it necessary to advertise in the press.

We also enjoyed annual dinner dances and there were teams for cricket and football, snooker and table tennis, and although not compulsory, anyone who wished to participate would be encouraged to join in. Matches were arranged between members of various departments, and depots within the M.C.D. and also other local companies.

It was indeed a very good company to work for and although I moved on after three years, my father achieved 45 years until his retirement at 65.

Eventually as the records will show, the White family sold out to larger companies. The local depots were closed or amalgamated, and Unigate extended the premises at Birmingham and a new purpose built site was acquired at Perry Barr. Like most large establishments, the personal touch was lost and things were never quite the same. The older employees were not keen to travel out of Wolverhampton and so had to find work elsewhere.

It was a sad day for all who remembered the Midland Counties Dairy in its heyday, and the local people in Wolverhampton, when the familiar white and blue building on Penn/Lea Road was razed to the ground. A part of the town's history was gone forever and a McDonalds take-away now sadly occupies the site.

Return to the
previous page