A Howard's Dairies milkman and his horse retire

Alf Pepper and his horse Donald

My Grandad was a milkman for Howard’s Dairies when deliveries were still made by horse drawn floats.  My Grandad’s name was Alf Pepper and his horse’s name was Don.  The newspaper clipping pictured below shows that he retired in 1961.  My Mum said that he was the last milkman in Southend area to use a horse drawn float.

He used to ride his bike or walk from his home in Hildaville Drive, in Westcliff-on-Sea, to the Benfleet dairy to pick up his deliveries.

My Grandad’s float had the number 92 on it (see photo below), does any body know what the number meant? My son’s friend restored milk floats and thinks that he has my Grandad’s one as it does have the number 92 on it.

Transcript of the newspaper clipping below.

Two old pals retire together

Alf & Don reach the end of trail


The children grew to love Donald, the almost human horse, who would do numerous tricks to get an extra lump of sugar from his customers.  The children loved Alf, too

Stop awhile

For although he had a big round to cover, he would always stop for a minute if one of the children wanted to pat Donald.
Alf put his feet up at his home in Hildaville Drive, Westcliff, and told the Times: “It’s a sad moment for me but I shall be going to see Donald regularly.  We are real old pals and he would miss me.”
But Donald won’t be far away.  He will join other horses at Folly Farm, London Road, Leigh, where all good horses go into retirement!

Great regret

Said a spokesman for Howard’s Dairies: “We retired Alf with great regret. He’s been with the firm for 50 years and it seems that Donald has been with us almost as long.”
“I am afraid that motor driven floats are gradually replacing our horse drawn vehicles.  It is naturally much quicker although not half as exciting for the children.”


Alf Pepper with his horse Don
Julie Sims
A newspaper clipping featuring Alf Pepper and his horse Don on their retirement
Julie Sims

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  • Hi Ralph,

    Thanks for getting in touch.

    I have added your memory to the article.

    Kind Regards,

    Pamela J. Bird-Gaines

    By Pamela Gaines (07/07/2023)
  • I lived by Westleigh schools and our milk was delivered by horse drawn cart from Howard’s Dairies. The name of the horse was Dolly but have forgotten milkman’s name. I used to get a ride on the cart down Eastwood Road! I used to love the cream from the top of the gold top bottle on my porridge.

    By Ralph Conroy (06/07/2023)
  • Great photos and the number 92 on the float was a fleet number for maintenance purposes.Howards acquired many small milk businesses in the fifties and fifties and were bought by United Dairies London late fifties.

    By Brian Baker (28/02/2023)
  • Thanks for the photo. I lived on Hillway, Westcliff on Sea. I can remember the milkman and his horse driven cart.

    By Janine (25/06/2021)
  • Lovely to hear about my husband’s Great Uncle Alf. Alf’s sister-in-law also worked for Howard’s Dairies in her long rain coat and cap.
    Thank you for the photos.

    By Kate Knott (19/03/2021)
  • I remember the old Howard’s Dairy building at the top of West Leigh Avenue across from my old school.
    It was closed up and the Unigate and Co-op floats worked the area.
    The Co-op depot was down on Glendale gardens.
    My pal’s dad, Den, used to do a milk round with horse and cart long before I met him in the 1970s.

    By Chris Chapman (19/03/2021)
  • Hi, Interesting to read about the horse drawn milk cart but I doubt very much if your grand dad walked to Benfleet. Howards Dairies were based in London Rd, Leigh (opposite the florist) and when they sold out to United Dairies the old building eventually closed and stood empty for years. No one knew what to do with a large old dairy building. The dairy company had other popular products such as Mickey chocolate milk drink and orange juice, the flavour of which, has never been equalled. Good old days. The brown horse on our round was called Rob Roy.

    By Jones. (05/02/2020)

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