Nostalgia Moves On


It is still possible to  find one of the old ten-gallon galvanised milk churns in antique shops, but nostalgia would soon wear thin if the buyer had to manoeuvre the 50kg of a full churn every day.

A small group of shiny metal milk churns on a raised stand was a familiar sight in the 1950s countryside, and the clangour of their comings and goings rang through the dead quiet air of my village like a bell.    

This type of churn was introduced in the 1930s as a development from its 17-gallon wooden predecessor, which was also used for butter making. They were both made in the Churn Works, Northgate, Haverfordwest, which at one time exported its products worldwide. The works were established in 1883 by John Llewellin, a renowned cooper, and products of the sort that I recognised around my country home were made up to 1979. 

Country kids now have the same electronic distractions and easy communications as their townie friends,  which might leave less time for the creative imagination borne of sheer boredom, though socialising with friends from home has kept all of our spirits up in this time of restricted movement.

Back in the good old, bad old days the approaching hum of a tractor was an event that would have had small boys like me at the window to see what sort of mighty contrivance was passing; and I was always envious of its lucky driver. Tractor driving, to my mind, was obviously a leisure activity, and it would not have been a surprise to me if farmers had to pay someone so that they could indulge in it.

Passing vehicles did not come any larger or more exciting than the flatbed churn collection lorry with its rattle of chains that kept the load in restive order. 

Riding in the cab of such a lorry would have been as sensational to me as the theme park thrill rides of today.

Lorry cabs of the 1950s were not like the travelling hotel rooms we have now; they were plain pressed steel boxes, and the upholstery, like a church pew, ensured that you kept your mind on the road ahead. The device flexed and squeaked and bucked on its cart spring suspension, and the churns behind clinked and wobbled like ninepins on a dance floor.

Memorable experiences were of a simpler and more basic nature back then, but not the lesser for that.

Those old churns were heavy, unwieldy and therefore inefficient, and as we are obliged to change our ways in the future, who knows what necessities of today will languish in shops that cater for the nostalgically afflicted?

Alan Martin

Alan Martin is a Pembrokeshire native who has worked in several UK locations as an engineering inspector. He now lives on a smallholding in mid-county with his wife and son.

Kitty Parsons

Kitty has forgotten how long she has been here now but she loves Pembrokeshire for its beauty and it's people. She spends her time searching out stories for, swimming in the sea , drawing and painting as Snorkelfish and eating cake. She says " has been an opportunity to celebrate this beautiful county and its people. Keep the stories coming. We love to hear from you."

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