Firman's Dairies

Sonny Firman started his milk delivery business in 1932 in the Langdon Hills area

Sonny (Seager) Firman
Pauline Denning
Sonny Firman and Martin.
Pauline Denning

Sonny (Seager) Firman started his milk delivery business in 1932 in the Langdon Hills area. Milk was collected in churns from the farmer Dan Markham at Great Berry and then bottled and delivered by trade bike to the customers. Empty bottles where then collected hand washed and sterilised. As the years passed the number of customers grew and the area widened, the milk was then delivered by horse and cart. More staff were employed and in one outlying area, Berry Park, the milk was delivered by a small van.

As time went by milk became pasteurised and was collected from the bottling plant in Laindon, which later moved to South East Essex Dairies in Cranes Farm Road Basildon.

During the 1960s the horse and carts were replaced by small vans, and in turn in the 1970s milk floats took the place of the vans.

Firmans Dairies was a family run business, my mother doing the paperwork, myself, sisters Brenda and Audrey on hand to help in all aspects of the business. Our husbands were also “roped in” to help when we were married. Brenda’s husband Vic decided the milk delivery service was a good healthy way of life and so worked for many years in the business.

My parents retired in 1979, the business was sold to Whife and Slopers, a local company from the Markhams Chase area in Laindon.

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  • Thanks to Bob Connell for letting me know I hadn’t imagined Wagers Dairy. It may well have been in Pitsea or Vange area, just glad for his confirmation.

    By Don Joy (26/12/2017)
  • In response to Don Joy I definitely remember Wagers Dairy. I am not sure if they were in the Laindon area though. I thought they were more towards Vange and Pitsea . I could be wrong it was a long time ago.

    By Bob Connell (22/12/2017)
  • I recall many milk supply companies from way back, but does anyone remember a company named Wager, or have I just imagined it?

    By Don Joy (21/12/2017)
  • I remember Bob the milkman delivering the milk with Molly and Billy.  Sometimes I use to help them out delivering the milk.   Sometimes wish those days was back. 

    By Stephen Kingsley (28/08/2017)
  • We lived opposite your family in Westley Road for many years from about 1975/6.  I remember your dad Sonny well – he always used to smile and talk to me when I was a little girl. x

    By Heidi (18/02/2015)
  • Great reading about my grandad, with fond memories of delivering milk at 5am in the morning, fingers frozen cold but I loved it.  The picture of the young lad is Martin not me.

    By Graham DRUCE (05/05/2014)
  • I remember Bob delivering milk in his horse drawn cart in all weathers. I can still visualise the cart with two large wheels down in ruts up to its axle being pulled by ?molly? delivering to our family in Shelley Ave, off Berry Lane, Langdon Hills. This would have been around 1955/56– thanks for the memory

    By Terry Stolworthy (26/04/2013)
  • Hi Lynn, we lived at Hawthorne, Berry Lane, and I remember milkman Bob, oh and that lovely orange juice. I was only about 5, but I can still picture him now. Have you a photo you could put on here of him?

    By Angela underdown (nee carter) (25/04/2013)
  • I used to be Sonny Firmans milk boy from about 1962. Many a fond memory. Very great man.

    By Martin Twelftree (21/04/2013)
  • I lives in Berry Lane and Bob used to deliver our milk with either Molly or Billy pulling the cart. I remember Sonny too. What lovely memories of the good old days

    By Joan Merchant (29/10/2012)
  • My dad Bob Davies was a delivery boy for Sonny in the horse and cart era and remembers him well and the great and not so great times delivering in all weathers along the unmade roads.

    By Lynn Cooper (nee Davies) (20/09/2012)
  • I remember Sonny Firman well. My family lived in Wellington Avenue, Langdon Hills. I think the horses name was Molly

    By John Watson (20/09/2012)
  • My cousins, Lesley and Dennis Hopkins were roundsmen using horse and cart plus grocery bikes. 

    I also helped them with deliveries, sterilising bottles and also filling bottles with milk at Westley Farm, the cream scooped from the inside of the churn was great. 

    We lived in Jubillee and Minerva bungalows in Nightingale Ave.

    By Len Boret (02/08/2012)
  • Pauline, my Aunty Betty worked for your dad and then for Markhams in the High Road, Betty Simmonds née Davies. I remember seeing her getting a lift home up the Laindon Link on a milk float. 

    I have to thank whoever worked the round in Albermerle Cresent in 1962 my young son was ill, milk was only delivered every other day because there were no roads and was pulled along on a cart, luckily this day was a delivery day and the chap walked all the way back to the phone box in Lee Chapel Lane and phoned Dr Cavaroli for me who arrived in the dark about 5:30 that night. He had the croup, because of the dampness caused by condensation on the asbestos walls, which was quite common. 

    By Gloria Sewell (11/01/2012)
  • Hi, very interesting article about your dairy business. I have a large collection of milk bottles and dairy memorabilia with lots of bottles from Essex. I used to work at Whife & Sloper as a boy. Do you have any other photos or milk bottles from your dairy?

    By Paul (30/11/2011)
  • Hi Pauline, I remember your dad well, you lived up Westley Road not far from my aunt Ada. I remember the horse and cart deliveries down Nightingale Ave., where I lived, the milkman I remember was named Bob. I don’t think I ever remember your dad not whistling, he had a very strong whistle and was always cheery.

    By Ellen English née Burr (26/11/2011)

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