This is a summary of our research into dairying businesses in Darlaston Green, South Staffordshire, at the start of the 20th century. Originally this was a project related to my grandparents, Thomas and Florence Smalls’ dairying business at No. 90 The Green, and my mother Kathleen Mary Small’s story about it.

This then developed into investigating all the dairying operations in The Green at the time. We also found that some of the buildings which we were looking at had avoided demolition in the 1970s and as such are of interest in their own right. This is still a work in progress as there is still investigative work to do regarding the later demise of these businesses, the last of which closed in 1949.

Peter J. Carter 01/8/2019

On the back of the Alan Godfrey Willenhall and Darlaston Green Old OS map for 1903 we read in the historical notes by Catherine Yates: “Gradually farming became a marginalised activity as mining and metalworking rose in prominence and by the publication of the first ordnance survey map of 1885 only Rough Hay Farm survived in the interstices between Willenhall and Darlaston. In 1901 the farm had succumbed to development pressure and ‘white house’, as the farm had become known, had the Criterion Stamping Works in its fold yard rather than animals.“ Rough Hay Farm can be clearly seen on the 1885 OS Map alongside the Bilston to Willenhall Road..

With the demise of local farms, and prior to the advent of the large dairies supplying bottled pasteurised and sterilised milk in the 1920s, milk was supplied fresh from the cow to the local community by small urban dairying businesses. These would be based on a small number of cows which could be herded to pasture on nearby open land, and also fed on bought-in animal feed such as mangolds and hay. Another source of animal feed was spent grain from breweries of which there were quite a few in the area. The pasture in Darlaston was mainly on waste land from closed down ironworks such as Addenbrooke's and The Darlaston Steel & Iron Company (Mills & Bills), or old coalmining projects. Frequently the dairyman would have a job in industry, relying on his family to help with the day to day running of what today might be called a micro urban farm. With no refrigeration or bottling facilities, the fresh “loose” milk had to be delivered quickly to the local customers.

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