Milkin’ it! UK’s biggest milk bottle collector has 15,000 stored in his shed – and even became a milkman
A dairy-mad dad has collected 15,000 milk bottles he keeps stashed in his shed – and loves them so much he became a milkman.
Paul Luke, 40, from Corringham, Essex, has been collecting milk bottles since he helped his local milkman deliver his round at just eight years old for just £2 a day.
His milk madness quickly grew and now, more than 30 years later, he owns a huge 15,000 bottles – with some even dating back to the 1800s.
Lactose lover Paul even started up his own milk round in April this year, using traditional glass bottles, and now sells around 1,500 pints of the white stuff a week in his local area.
Dad Paul, who previously worked in marketing, said: “It started after I discovered there was club for milk bottle collectors.
“Most people stopped at 100 but I just kept going.
“It started with 20 bottles on Mum’s sideboard, and lead to 100 in my bedroom on a display shelf, and then bottles in crates everywhere.
“I loved seeing the different adverts, such as Kellogs Cornflakes or hot chocolate, and my uncle would bring new ones over I had never seen before when he came to visit.
“Eventually I had 15,000 in my shed, all organised by locations and diaries. “
Paul added to his collection by raiding the lofts of old farms and swapping with other collectors but his oldest bottle dates back to the 1800’s.
Another came from The Royal Dairy, in Windsor, from the reign of King George V in the 1930’s.
Paul said: “When there was a new advert, thousands of bottles would be printed at a time and then would be gone within a month with a lot of them being smashed or kept.
“I wanted to preserve a bit of history.
“I believe I have the only milk bottle from the Royal Dairy n the 1930’s still left.
“I also have two milk floats, one is the last of six made in 1927, and the other dates back to the 1940’s.
“Bottles were often stored in farmhouse lofts and so I started going around and finding the good ones.
“They need careful cleaning, sometimes using the dishwasher, depending on how fragile they were.”
Paul is still a member of the National Association of Milk Bottle Collectors Club and attends events with his partner Vicky, 46.
Earlier this year he branched out into the dairy industry himself and now supplies milk to hundreds of houses a week with his own milk round.
He said: “Glass milk bottles have made a big comeback, especially now everyone is more environmentally friendly.
“When we started we managed to gain 200 customers in our first two weeks.
“I even have solar panels on my house to help charge the float, so there are no emissions and no cost, but it can get cold without any doors on it.
“A little girl on my round has even started collecting bottles too and I gave her some from my collection.
“Many of diaries are now gone so around 80 per cent of collection no longer exists.
“People love seeing the old style float. It brings back a lot of childhood memories.”
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