The People

A Great Team

picpicRichard (Dick) Ishmael (inset right) ran the dairy on a day to day basis and his father Bill (George William pictured left) the founder of the firm would appear quite regularly to give advice as needed. Dick was married to Florence, they had two children Derek and Valerie and lived in Milton Grove Orrell. In the early fifties he drove a black Hillman Minx JFY 113 for personal transport and at the time was the main driver of the Austin A40 pickup. Dick used to smoke Philip Morris cigarettes an exotic American brand supplied by a friend who lived in Claude Street. Bill Ishmael (Senior) who at this time was a widower in his late sixties or early seventies lived in Gathurst Road near the top of the hill. He drove a grey Standard Vanguard. Charlie Orrell was the yard man, stable man, boiler man and general technician, taking care that everything was in good working order at all times including the horses. Charlie was a gentleman of the first order a very wise quiet man who could do anything. He lived on Ormskirk Road below the Carnegie Library at the bottom of Spring Bank and was Ken Greenway's father in law. Hilda Woodcock lived in the house adjoining the dairy yard, probably a widow she had a daughter Jean. Most days she could be found operating the bottle washing or milk bottling machines, in the afternoons she would do clerical work in the office making up the floats in the roundsman's money bags, counting Saturday's takings (the day for collecting) and reconciling them with the day books. She may have done the bookkeeping as well. Margaret Aspey and Betty Swift were two nice ladies in their thirties who operated the bottle washing machines and milk bottling machines. They always wore protective plastic aprons and wellingtons because of the rather damp conditions in the dairy during operations. Margaret Aspey lived with her husband and two boys on Norley Hall estate, she used to have milk delivered there. Betty Swift lived in Pemberton not far from the dairy. Frank Atherton and myself were part time helpers from the early fifties followed later by Peggy's daughter Vera, Dick's son Derek and my younger brother Alan (see contributions for Alan's memories). We turned out in all weathers, winter and summer during the week in school holidays and every Saturday and Sunday. Delivery staff in the fifties were Ronnie Beddard, Peter Hart, Billy Brown, Ken Greenway and Bob Porter, changes to personnel which happened gradually over time are detailed in later parts of the text.


Changes happened very gradually. At some stage Billy Brown bought a shop on Ormskirk Road at the corner of Leader Street, quite a new departure and slightly ahead of its time, it was self service a form of early supermarket. Peggy (pictured left with husband Bill Silcock), Dick Ishmael's sister sometimes helped by her daughter Vera took over his round with the horse. Sometime later Peter Hart retired and Ronnie Beddard took up a job at Triangle Valve, this is when Ken Philpot started (taking over Peter's round) and a certain amount of reorganisation happened. About this time Bill Ishmael (Senior) seemed to come out of semi-retirement, helping with deliveries using a second pickup truck, an Austin A70 Somerset. This vehicle looked as if it had started life as a van and had been converted to pickup, it was never as convenient as the A40 as a delivery vehicle the sides were slightly too high and it was difficult for anyone to ride on the back between customers. Bill did the Winstanley round at weekends with this vehicle and one of the part-time lads, he must have been well into his seventies by then and chain smoked Capstan Full Strength whilst the lad delivered the milk. picAt some time one of the vehicles was replaced by a green Bedford van with only one seat, the passenger had to sit on an upturned wooden milk crate. I learned to drive in this vehicle on the roads of Lamberhead Industrial Estate accompanied by Bob in the main but some times by Tom Hutchinson (pictured right with Don Neill, centre and Dick, right) who had just joined the firm from being a Wigan Corporation bus driver. I failed two tests mainly due to lack of practice, it was difficult to arrange practice sessions only attending at weekends and during school holidays, I was in the sixth form at Thomas Linacre School by this time with ambitions of becoming an industrial chemist. Later the other vehicle was replaced by a grey Austin A55 Cambridge Pickup followed by a blue version of the same model, this was driven by Oswald Gaskell who was the steward of Upholland Conservative Club on Church Street and joined the firm shortly after Tom, by this time the firm had a round in Billinge. Tom drove the green Bedford van and Oswald the blue A55 pickup. The Bedford was very handy in some ways, it had easy access through the sliding doors and access to the load from the driver and passenger seats. The rear doors were removed for easy access from the rear. These two vehicles were later traded for a green Austin J2 pickup (forward control with heavy steering) and a yellow or white Thames van cab with a short flat bed body. The latter took part in Billinge lower end carnival about 1964.

On his retirement Charlie Orrell was replaced by new yard man/dairy worker Bob Winstanley and Bill Steele joined the team in the dairy for a time. Bob had red hair and used to work in the mines, Bill was from Upholland and may have been related to the Ishmaels.

As it got older Dick Ishmael's black Hillman Minx was exchanged for a two tone Vauxhall Cresta, top light blue bottom dark blue. Early in its life it was damaged reportedly by a rag and bone merchant's horse and cart in Chapel Lane Wigan. Apparently the horse took fright in a queue of traffic and backed the cart into the Cresta several times. The large chrome bird or was it a plane on the bonnet was knocked off. At one stage we were regularly delivering milk on Norley Hall Estate using the Cresta, it was and still probably is the nicest car you could ever wish to drive. Some time later the Cresta was replaced by a very early yellow Ford Cortina estate (XWM 158), by this time the car was being used regularly as an important addition to the fleet at weekends. A grey Austin A40 (Farina style) used to appear regularly at the dairy and was pressed into service occasionally, this car was the personal transport of John Ishmael (Dick's younger brother) whilst at Upholland Grammar School and later Liverpool University, his father used it as well.

Palfreyman 2010