|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
|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
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
|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.
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