This Week's Treasure of the Week

Week 47
Milk Bottles

These wonderful milk bottles can be found in the dairy room at the Oakham Treasures museum. Literally hundreds of them can be seen, and have been collected through a combination of auction purchases, farm closures, local sales and gifts.

British milk bottles were initially produced by the Express Dairy Company, and then by Wiltshire United Dairies which eventually became United Dairies.

Bottles came in all shapes and sizes from an 1/8th pint to a 2 pint bottle. A 1/3rd pint bottle was introduced later for schools so that the milk couldn't be resold.

Advertising first appeared on milk bottles in the 1920's, using a sand blasting technique to etch the advert onto the glass. Initially, the promotion was used to feature the farmers own herd and to ensure that the bottles were returned to their rightful owners. They were also used to signify large customers such as hotels. Later the big brands spotted an opportunity, and the likes of Kellogg's, Coca Cola and Brooke Bond used them to promote their own associated products.

Advertising largely disappeared with the introduction of infrared bottle scanners in the 1990's designed to check cleanliness.

Once the noise of the milkman delivering his morning round was a quintessential part of every day Britain. Sadly now however, with the rise of the supermarket and technological advancements, we have far fewer milkmen, and far fewer milk bottles, as they have been replaced by more modern and efficient distribution and packaging solutions.