P. J. Carseldine’s Milk Run.

Authors: Hugh & Joe Carseldine. (Sons)

In 1920 Percy James Carseldine took over the family farm at Bald Hills which had been established by his grandfather, William Carseldine in 1858. It was one of the first pieces of land selected at Bald Hills along with farms of the Stewarts and the Duncans. By 1920 it was primarily a dairy farm and in line with the custom of the day of naming farms, it was called “Fairfield”.

In 1928, in order to sell the farm’s milk direct to the public, Percy purchased a milk run around the Sandgate area from J. Gold who had a farm in what is now Depot Road, Deagon. The purchase included a horse drawn milk cart and the services of a lad to assist with the deliveries and to help on the farm. The cart had space for two 10 gallon (45 litre) milk cans in a partially enclosed ventilated box. The driver and his assistant sat on an open seat on top of the box where the cans were stored.  The 10 gallon cans were fitted with taps which protruded from the rear of the cart and at each customer’s house, depending on their requirements, a half pint, pint, or quart measure was filled from the tap and taken into the house and poured into the customers own container. This was usually a jug or billycan but some of them were rather unusual containers. This was usually left in a convenient location such as the top of the front or back steps or porch. Some customers paid daily, some weekly or monthly and a few never!

This was known as a warm milk run. Warm milk was defined as milk delivered to the customer within six hours of being drawn from the last cow in the herd. It was before the large companies came into existence with their large pasteurising plants. Because it was not treated or refrigerated in any way it had to be delivered to the customer in a relatively short space of time, hence the time limit on delivery. Also, as homes did not yet have refrigerators (some had ice boxes) it was necessary to make two deliveries a day. The usual method of prolonging the life of milk was to boil it. As there was no such thing as zoning for milk runs a vendor would try to obtain customers from wherever possible.

The Fairfield run commenced at what was then known as Duddington’s store at the intersection of Brackenridge Road, Baskerville Street, Nash Street and Deagon Street. At this point one of the men would take two cans, one of two gallon capacity and the other, one gallon together with a set of three measures. and walk from there over Nashville and parts of Sandgate on the hill adjacent to the school, delivering to customers scattered throughout this area; then on to Scott Street, Deagon. The other person would take the cart and head towards Brighton Terrace as far as 11th Avenue then work back in the direction of the Town Hall along the beach front and down various avenues. He would then meet up with the one who had completed the ‘Billy Run’ and they would cover the Deagon area between the railway and Cabbage Tree Creek. They would then head up towards the rail crossing at Sandgate Station, and on up Eagle Terrace to Shorncliffe and work their way back via Palm Avenue and Rainbow Street, where deliveries would finish. They would then return to Bald Hills through the town, Deagon Street and Brackenridge Road. In later years, my brother Harold and I would do the milk run.

The morning run would leave the farm about 4:00am and return about 7:45am. As some customers required milk only in the morning, the afternoon run was operated by only one person, who would leave the farm about 12:30pm and return about 4:30pm. The average quantity of milk delivered was about 20 gallons per day.

In 1936 P.J.C. converted his Model T Ford tourer into a utility truck. This cut the travelling time to and from Sandgate, but it was no quicker than the horse as one had to start the engine after each delivery whereas the horse would start as soon as one of the crew got onto the cart. In fact, one horse would start as soon as it heard the gate of a house close and one would have to run and get onto a moving cart. Another point with a horse was, when my brother Harold and I did the run, we could doze all the way to the first customer at Sandgate, and the horse would stop there and stamp a hoof to tell us to start!

During the period 1928 to 1938 some of the other vendors in the Sandgate area were A. Basnett, McConaghy, J. McKeering, McCready McDermott, Mrs. Newburn, J. Kirby, J. O’Farrell, H. Rouse, A. Staib, R. Rogan, S. Philp, R. Dawson, and K. Bryce. At the time P.J.C. purchased the run, milk was sold for 8 pence (9 cents) a quart (1.13 litres.) and there was a lot of competition between vendors. During the depression in the late twenties and thirties, some vendors started slashing prices. Accordingly, the Sandgate Milk Vendors Association was formed in an attempt to stabilise prices. However, one member continued to cut prices and was taken to court, but through a fault in the drafting of the agreement which had been drawn up, the case was thrown out

Government Inspectors made random checks on the quality of the milk, chiefly to check for the presence of added water, but also for the bacterial content, which indicated the cleanliness of the handling methods. They would suddenly appear in the early hours of the morning and buy a pint of milk. They would then put it in two containers which would be sealed with their official seal. One sample would be given to the vendor as his record and the other taken for analysis. If added water was detected a prosecution would result, with a fine of one pound (two dollars) for each percentage point of added water. One story, which has not been verified was that the inspectors one day pulled up a vendor who immediately turned on the taps, whipped up his horse and galloped down the road leaving a trail of milk. Another true incident is of a vendor, who, to protect the guilty we will call him Syd, when short of milk, would stop at the horse drinking trough (which was located in Rainbow Street opposite the entrance to the station) and top up the cans from it. Another vendor said to him “That’s a bit crude, Syd, what about the dirt in the water”. “That’s all right,” said Syd, “l strain it through my handkerchief”

One day P. J. was delivering to a customer at the top of the hill in Yundah Street, Shorncliffe. He left the T Ford milk truck facing downhill towards Cabbage Street Creek. As he came out of the customer’s gate, the Ford suddenly took off by itself. P. J. gave chase as it headed for one of the big Moreton Bay Fig trees growing by the curb side. Just before it hit the tree, one wheel hit the kerb. This made it old Model T veer straight at the fence. However as it bounced across the gutter, miraculously  squeezing between the fence and the tree, and circled back up the hill just as P.J. caught up with it.

P.J’s hobby was bee keeping. At one time he had over 40 hives. The milk run gave him an extra outlet for his honey to his customers. He had labels printed for the honey jars which stated, “From the Land of Milk and Honey”.

Hugh & Joe Carseldine 1983

Horse Drawn Milk Cart




  • Model T-Ford Milk Van