Additional Observations

This research paper started as a look at the dairying operations of my grandparents, Thomas and Florence Small, at No. 90 The Green, Darlaston, but it naturally expanded to include a number of other similar operations in The Green around 1911. If the Smalls’ dairy herd of six cows was typical, milk production (hand milking) could only have been around 12 gallons per day if all six were in milk, i.e. about 100 pints.

Part of the skill of a dairyman would be to run a regime with the cows to maintain a steady supply of milk for their customers throughout the year. It is therefore not surprising that we found four dairies within such a short radius. We know that later, as already mentioned, there was another loose milk dairy business run by the Andrews family at the junction of Bush Street and Bell Street. My mother also mentions that there was Mills dairy in Willenhall Street, who supplied Smalls with loose milk when they disposed of the cows.

Milk would possibly have been delivered daily by rail from the countryside, in churns, to businesses in the town itself. From the story of the theft of Thomas Small’s cows, the value of a milking cow is given as around £20 which was a significant sum in 1910 (current market price is around £1,400 in 2019).

We don’t know whether they all owned their own cows ( from the trial report we see that Thomas Small had purchased his own), whether cowkeepers were looking after someone else’s cows, or whether the cows were rented from farmers elsewhere. Who had a bull to serve the cows as necessary?

From the theft story it is clear that getting animals to market was not a problem as Glover walked the two stolen cows to Wolverhampton Cattle Market via Willenhall, around 8 miles. I can imagine disposal of effluent being a significant problem and health risk as is shown by the court case involving Robert Worrall in 1908. According to Dave Joy, six cows would produce 1.5 tons of dung a week. In the spring and summer much of this would be deposited in the fields, but in the winter, if the cows were indoors, then there would be a continuous disposal problem. This might be solved by selling to a dung trader who would pick it up in his cart and resell to a farmer. It would also have value to owners of allotments nearby.

There was great concern over health risks from contamination of milk and adulteration with addition of water, and infected animals. Dave Joy in “Liverpool Cowkeepers” gives a list of legislation aimed at the dairy industry from 1860 to 1901:- Appointment of Public Analysts - Powers to inspect and seize unsound food including milk. - Heavy penalties for adulteration of food. - Registration of dairymen, cowkeepers and milk purveyors by local authorities. - Cowsheds and dairies to have adequate lighting, ventilation, cleansing, drainage and water supply. - Milk from diseased animals could not be used as human food. - Sale of Milk Regulations, specified minimum level of fat in milk.

So it was not surprising that Robert Worrall fell foul of the Public Health Inspectors in 1908, although his reaction was a bit extreme.

As the 20th century progressed and better testing regimes improved the understanding of disease, and in particular Tuberculosis, then grading of milk came in (Grade A & T.T ) followed by pasteurisation and finally sterilised milk, all of which favoured the large dairies, who could afford the finance required, and as my mother, Kathleen Small, explained, it led to the demise of the small local producer by 1949 and also ended fresh milk being brought in from the countryside.

Cows being herded through the streets of Liverpool. Courtesy Frank Smallpage (Liverpool Cowkeepers). This would have been a familiar site in Darlaston Green before WW2.
Below is an annotated excerpt from the 1918 OS Map showing the location of the dairies in Darlaston Green:

Above is the 1902 OS map showing the location of the open fields between Darlaston Green and the Bilston Road (Willenhall). The track between the Midland Works over the canal via Rough Hay Bridge and the Darlaston Brook to the White House would become Midland Road. The White House was originally Rough Hay Farm.

The Smalls, Worralls and Hollands would have easy access to this area. From the court case we know that they were going over the canal into Willenhall, probably using the White House fields. They were also using Rough Hay on the Darlaston side.

With grateful thanks to my friend, Mr. Dennis Parker for taking all the photographs, and doing the on-site investigations in Darlaston Green.


1. Ordnance Survey Maps for 1885, 1903, 1918, and 1938. Willenhall and Darlaston Green.
2. Old Ordnance Survey Maps for 1885, 1901 and 1913.
3. Willenhall and Darlaston Green, Darlaston, and Darlaston and Kings Hill Census returns for 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911 and 1939.
4. History of Darlaston - Alice Hall’s account of life in Darlaston at No.4 Bush Street.
5. Walsall Advertiser, June 1908, County Express, August 1910, and Lichfield Mercury, October 1910, Walsall Observer and South Staffordshire Chronicle, August 13th 1910.
6. “Liverpool Cowkeepers” by Dave Joy 2016 Amberly Books
7. “Photographs and Stories of Old Darlaston” by Tony Highfield
8. “Walsall as it was” Benson & Raybold 1978.
9. Darlaston UDC Medical Officer of Health Annual Report 1907 / 1952 (

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Appendix 1