Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Dairy and bakery, Shepherd's Bush

The backstreets to the east of Shepherd's Bush Road, between Hammersmith and Shepherd's Bush, are essentially residential, with the odd pub here and there. At first sight it doesn't look like an area where many painted signs could be found. However Richmond Way has a few shops and, as I looked back before heading towards the hideous roundabout east of the green and then to Notting Hill, there it was! A large but simple sign for the local dairy and a bakery that for once wasn't linked to Hovis or Daren.


A. C.
Noted For
Home Made

Location: Richmond Way / Picture taken on: 31/07/2009

Several painted signs for dairies can still be seen on London walls. The development of shops specialized in dairy products was linked to the urban growth of the city in the second half of the 19th century and the growth of milk consumption in the late Victorian and Edwardian periods, due partly to a greater appreciation of its health benefits (even though at least until the milk grading and testing orders of 1922 and 1923, the milk sold across London was of more than dubious quality: water was often added and cream removed, and even worse, a study published in 1918 found that 99 per cent of samples had traces of cow dung while that supplied to schools and hospitals carried bacilli coli, indicating the presence of manure, and several million bacteria per cubic centimeter, a staggering figure at a time when 60,000 was considered hygienically possible). The first dairy shops opened in the West End and in the City, but soon they were found across the capital. By 1883, 1,941 could be found throughout London. In addition to milk, they sold butter, eggs, margarine and some groceries. Even though many dairy shops were independently-owned, most of the sales were handed by those linked to wholesale suppliers such as the London United Dairies Co., founded in 1915, and which by 1920 controlled 80 per cent of the milk supply to greater London and 470 shops. Large concerns were able to offer a steady supply and the same prices throughout the year, in spite of large differences in production costs according to the season. Their quasi-monopoly often led to accusations of inflated prices though. From the 1920s, independent dairy shops also faced increasing competition from co-operatives, whose share of the milk supply and retail market rose from 7 per cent in 1900 to 9 per cent in 1920 and to 26 per cent in 1939.

Dairy shops were part of everyday's life and remained so for a couple of decades after the Second World War. However technological developments, such as the introduction of UHT milk in the 1960s, and new shopping habits, with people switching to supermarkets, led to a sharp drop in their numbers. Only a few survive, often catering for the upper end of the market.

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